Dear all ARC friends,

happy new year! Yes, we just had Thai new year from April 13 to 15.
May this year filled with countless smiles and good luck, and may your every day accompanied with naughty smiles and warm affection.

How are you doing in every corner of the world? I am very fine in
Thailand. We are already through the new year holidays, but people still
 seem to be in the holiday mood this week. Bangkok is in the hottest
season of the year. Occasional showers cool down the town and bring
greens back to life. After a night, however, the city becomes an
enormous oven once again. Good things are that fruits are getting
sweeter and more juicy with cheaper market price, and that there are not
 many mosquitos around.

The red-shirt movement is still ongoing, so we have to be careful
where we are heading to, not to run into the area of mob. Otherwise,
it’s as peaceful as usual.

OK, without much delay, here are the headlines of news from ARC today:

1. Fundraising with colorful children
2. Going public in Thailand
3. “To be an association or to be a foundation, that is the question.”
4. Our next step in the north-east
5. ARC as the second home for books
6. (HIGHLIGHT!) Our new staff
1. Fundraising with colorful children

Neilson Hays Library is the oldest English-language library in
Bangkok. They not only provide 20,000 quality  books to English
readers in the metropolis, but also conduct various activities in the
community as a part of society.

One of the activities is called “Reading Marathon,” and ARC is luckily
involved in it this year since March. It’s a fundraising activities
through book-reading, and a part of the raised fund goes to purchase
children’s books in Neilson Hays Library, and another part goes to a
social project.
This year, ARC was selected as their target project.

600 children at four international schools in Bangkok competed amount of
 books they can read within a certain period of time, and their family
and friends pay for their reading. I think it’s a great method to
motivate kids to read more, and contribute to the society at the same

As small gift back to them, I have visited two of the schools to give
motivational speeches about people with different disabilities in the
society. In the speeches and Q&A sessions, I tried to illustrate the
positive side of people with disabilities that are often overlooked in
mainstream media. They touched Braille alphabet, and so many hands
were raised high up in the air to try out cane-walk with blindfold.
Please look at the photos attached. I
was so happy to answer such importnt questions as “How do you read the
menu in the restaurant?” and “How do you eat without looking?”

I truly enjoy and admire the ever-lasting curiosity of young children,
and hope many of them will not forget to wonder even after they grow up.
 I am very much looking forward to meeting some of them again on May
15 at the closing ceremony of the reading marathon. Many thanks toMs.
Annemarie at Neilson Hays Library, and Ms. Marjan Konijn in Dutch
2. Going public in Thailand

ARC appeared on NBT, a national TV channel on Mar. 30. ARC is so lucky
to be covered by media in the earliest stage of the project progress.
Also, I met an editor of well-known monthly magazine called “A Day,” and
 he promised to write a story about our project. Since A Day is read
by many young people in Bangkok, it would greatly help ARC to recruit
more volunteer staff and get people interested.
3. “To be an association or to be a foundation, that is the question.”

Since I arrived in Bangkok in February, registration of ARC has been a
big concern for me. I have consulted many people, including people
running NGO, staff at a foundation who closely work with local and
international NGOs, and two law firms. Finally, I decided to ask support
 of a lawyer to register ARC as a foundation in Thailand. Because of
current political instability, it might take even longer than usual (3-6
 months). However, I am quite happy that I know the direction to go.
4. Our next step in the north-east

We are planning to make our first field trip in May. I am in touch
with a friend of mine who works at a blind school in a north-eastern
province, and he is trying to hook us up with local government
officers and center for special education. After school term starts in
May-june, I am thinking of doing some reading activities at schools
and institutions around Bangkok. I am positively excited to actually
reach the children at long last!
5. ARC as the second home for books

We have been collecting second-hand books both domestically and
internationally. So far, we received almost 100 books from Japan, and
about a dozen picture books (even with Braille) from an institute in UK.
 We are going to call for donation at numbers of international and
private schools around Bangkok. Although there are countless number of
quality books abroad, we want to emphasize domestic donation because
we want to provide most of books in Thai language. Mainly, from
foreign countries, We are asking for donation of special books, such
as tactile books and pop-up books, which are quite difficult to find
in Thailand. In case we get donation from outside, we translate the
contents into Thai and modify the book.
6. (HIGHLIGHT!) Our new staff

I came to Bangkok literally alone, and now, not anymore. After my
friends helped me to call for bolunteers through posters and various
blogs, many people contacted me via email and phone, showing interest in
 ARC. Most of them are mainly interested in field visit to the
village, but a few of them are willing to work in the preparation
phase as well. Let me introduce our two skilled volunteer staff, Pat,
and jum.

Pat: Pat contacted me via email as the first volunteer staff to ARC. She
 lives in Nontaburi, so she has to travel the most amongst all of us.
She has studied in Japan for 5 years, including 1 year in a high school,
 and 4 full years in a university. Then she went to the States to do her
 master’s course in international relations. Now she can speak, read,
and write in Thai, English, and Japanese. She has just come back, and is
 looking for a job in the non-profit field in Thailand. She may seek for
 higher education abroad sometime soon. But in the meantime, she is
working as a volunteer staff at ARC.

Jum: She called me in March on the phone. She lives near BTS
station, Saphaan Taksing. After finishing her BA at Kasessat univ.,
she went to the States for 3 years, studying and working at the same
 Shee  has worked in Mae Sod with refugees from Burma for 1 year, with
both children and adults, and has worked at international school. Now
she is teaching Thai language to foreigners at home.

I hope more and more brothers and sisters will keep joining us!
Thank you very much for reading the long letter. I tried to keep it
compact, but at the same time, I did not want you to miss anything.
Please feel free to write to us any time. ARC is happy to be in touch
with you!

Stay healthy, enjoy the world, and laugh every day!