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Siplang Village in New Year Celebration

We visited the village one last time before the opening ceremony. The whole village was in celebration to welcome new year. In fact, according to P’Nalae, our would-be teacher at the children center, there is no “absolute” new year’s day around this region. Each village take turns to celebrate during early April, so that there will be good meals offered in different villages for people to join.

In the afternoon, they killed a pig at the back of P’Nalae’s house, then the whole village came to help cutting it up into different parts. Meat was shared amongst all villagers, and without question, it was a huge dinner that night, starting with a prayer. They literally eat EVERY part of the generous pig.

All the ladies stayed up late that night to prepare for the celebration next day. They’d pounded up a kind of purple onion (not the edible one), and cook it with eggs to color them red. Also, they mix rice powder with sugar cane juice to be wrapped in banana leaf. Of course, our beloved P’Nalae was not at all an exception!

The next morning started with morning service, and children got red eggs as good luck gift. As soon as the service was over, kids started to hithis/her egg against another’s. This is a small competition to see “Who’s got the toughest egg?!” FYI, I did it with Tuu, and Tuu got stronger one :p

they enjoyed sweets and drinks. ARC made a small contribution by making sweet iced tea for the villagers. Since electricity is mainly just for lighting at night, there is no refridgerators in Siplang. So, iced tea, or, iced ANYTHING is hard to come by.

Someone made a huge potful of noodle in spicy soup, so the party went on and on till after lunch, but we came back around lunch time. It meant a lot as this was our first time to join their new year’s day. We all hope that we will be able to come back again and again to celebrate with them in years to come.








New Year Greetings

Do you know what a dragon look like?
What color is he?
What can he do?
What sound does he make when he roar with all his might?

Now, try to go on his back,
and fly up in the sky with him.
What can you see?
How do you feel?
What do you smell?

Friends, this is the power of imagination, and the beauty of dreams.

With your continuous support, ARC has been trying to empower people of all ages to imagine and to dream on by bridging between books and people  who cannot reach them.
In this year of dragon, with much respect and gratitude, I wish you a healthy year with time to imagine and dream.
Don’t let anything (amount of your hair, what you do to eat, money in your wallet, or whatever) come and intervene!
Forgot how to imagine? Thought dreams were for kids only?
Well, join us, and soon you will see.

A happy 2012 to you!

จดหมายข่าว คาราวานหนอนหนังสือ (ARC) ประจำเดือน ธันวาคม 2554

ถึง เพื่อนๆ คาราวานหนอนหนังสือทุกคน


ทักทายจาก อ.พร้าว จ.เชียงใหม่ ซึ่งห่างไกลจากคริสต์มาสที่เต็มไปด้วยหิมะ แต่พวกเราก็ยังรู้สึกได้ถึงความหนาวขณะที่ขี่มอเตอร์ไซด์ ในอุณหภูมิที่ต่ำกว่า 20 องศาเซลเซียส
พวกเราขอทักทายและส่งคำอวยพรสำหรับวันคริสต์มาสด้วยนะคะ แม้ว่ามันจะช้าไป 2 วันก็ตาม
วันนี้พวกเราไปส่งของขวัญวันคริสต์มาสให้กับคุณตาวัย 90 ปี ในหมู่บ้านห้วยทราย
แน่นอน มันคือหนังสือ!
พวกเรานำคัมภีร์ไบเบิลและหนังสือคริสเตียน ซึ่งพวกเราได้รับบริจาคมาจากเพื่อนคนหนึ่งของเราที่กรุงเทพฯ
คุณตาเป็นคริสเตียนเพียงคนเดียวในครอบครัวและเริ่มหูตึง คุณตาดีใจมากที่ได้รับของขวัญจากเรา
นี่เป็นอีกสะพานหนึ่งที่เราสร้างขึ้นเพื่อเชื่อมโยงหนังสือเข้ากับผู้คน ขอบคุณสำหรับเพื่อนๆที่สนับสนุนเรา

พวกเรา ขอขอบคุณทุกคนที่ให้การสนันสนุน ARC มาตลอดปี 2554 นี้
และคุณทำให้ผู้คนกับหนังสือ สื่อถึงกันได้
ARC ไม่ได้มีของขวัญพิเศษอะไรมามอบให้กับทุกคน แต่โปรดภูมิใจว่า “คุณ”เป็นคนหนึ่งที่ได้มอบรอยยิ้มให้แก่เด็กๆ
ความรู้สึกอบอุ่นและความรู้สึกดีๆที่คุณรู้สึกได้นั้น ถือเป็นของขวัญจากพวกเรา
มาสนุกกับสัปดาห์สุดท้ายของปี 2554 และ เตรียมพร้อมต้อนรับ ปี 2555! ไปด้วยกันนะคะ


Bookworm News Dec. 2011: Christmas of a 90-Year-Old Grandpa

Dear friends of ARC around the globe,

It’s far from white Christmas here in Phrao, Chiangmai, but we feel freezing while driving the motorbike around under 20 degrees.
Let us send you our heartful Christmas greetings, though it’s already a few days late!
Today, we went to deliver Christmas gifts to a 90-year-old grandpa in Huai Sai village.
What were the gifts?
OF COURSE, books!
We brought him a Bible and some Christian books, which were donated from one of our friends in Bangkok.
As the only one Christian in the entire family and being hard of hearing, he seemed to enjoy our gift a lot.
Another bridge between books and people were built, thanks to our friends’ support.
We thank each and every one of you for supporting ARC throughout 2011.
You made it possible for us to connect books and people.
ARC cannot give you any gifts, but please be proud that YOU were the one who put on a smile on the kid’s face.
YOU were the one who made that grandma laugh as our volunteer read for her.
That warm feeling in you is the gift from us.
Let’s enjoy the last week of 2011, and get ready to welcome 2012!

With warm regards and much gratitude,


Bookworm News Oct. 2011



Dear everyone,


Greetings from Phrao, Chiangmai. This is Yoshimi at Always Reading Caravan.

Yes, it has been such a long time since I wrote to you about the progress of ARC. I am so embarrassed about it, and feel so bad about it. There is no excuse that I can make, but I promise that you will hear from us more often after this.


I am happy to tell you that I have so much to tell you regarding ARC. Actually, it ended up to be rather long letter… So please sit back and enjoy!






Chapter 1. Flood in Thailand

Chapter 2. Our Partner in Suphanburi: A Flower of Library in Blossom

Chapter 3. Projects in Chiangmai

Chapter 4. Projects in Bangkok

Chapter 5. Picture books/Kamishibai Translation Project

Chapter 6. Social Media and ARC

Chapter 7. Introduction of ARC Members





Chapter 1. Flood in Thailand


You might be worried about us as Thailand has been hit by the worst flood in half a century. At the moment, 26 out of 77 provinces have been affected. Over 300 people lost their lives, and 2.4 million people have been affected by the disaster.


Water is reaching Bangkok slowly but steadily. I am not in Bangkok, but have to go back in 10 days time before going back to Japan briefly. I hope that the road between Chiangmai and Bangkok will be still accessible by then…


Fortunately, up to now, nobody at ARC has been affected by the disaster. Our partners in Suphanburi and Chiangmai are also unaffected. All the books for our Bangkok projects are in my apartment, but it’s on the second floor, so there is no need to worry. I assure you that all books are kept safe and dry!


Please pray for us so that water will go back to where it belongs. If possible, please make a donation to support flood relief.


The Thai Red Cross is accepting donations as they continue working in 34 provinces to provide fresh water, hot meals, medical help, and rescue services to victims of the flood.


The Bangkok Post has also put out a list of public and private groups accepting donations, including the Prime Minister’s Office and the Rajaprajanugroh Foundation.





Chapter 2. Our partner in Suphanburi: A flower of library in blossom


Since last year, we have conducted several mobile library activities in Suphanburi Province in Central Thailand. This has been one of the most successful library sites as we have a local partner in the village itself.


Aj. Wiboon is a Thai teacher at a local high school. She and her husband have a piece of land full of beautiful trees and cozy houses. Her long-term dream has been to open a small community library at home to encourage people in the village to read more and freely. So when I met her by coincidence and told her about the concept of ARC, she immediately offered us to open weekend library activity at her home itself!


See pictures of our activities here:


Activity in Mar. 2011



Activity in Oct. 2011



After our latest activity at her place, she wrote to me via Facebook:

“We are in the school holiday now, and many kids keep coming to borrow books from here. They also make record of borrowed books nicely. Our dream may really come true, Yoshi!”
ARC is so happy to see our first seed of library, beginning to grow to be a beautiful flower in the community. Thank you, Aj. Wiboon, brothers and sisters in the village, and all the small bookworms there! And we thank you, friends and supporters around the world, for making this happen.






Chapter 3. Projects in Chiangmai


We have started our permanent service in this area in collaboration with Warm Heart Foundation.



We will hire a full-time paid staff as project assistant, and start the following projects:

      Motorbike library: a mobile library on a motorbike for children in and around Huai Sai village, Mae Pang Subdistrict, Phrao District, Chiangmai Province. We are in the process of needs study, and are hoping to kick-start our library within a month. We have set up a station for our mobile library at the children home at Warm Heart Foundation. It’s a small rice barn with raised floor, and it’s a perfect place to relax, read, and take a nap too!! You can see its photo here…



      Preparatory school for Akha children: a pre-primary school on the mountain for children from Akha tribe in Sip-lang village, Monlan Mountain, Wiang-pa-pao District, Chiangmai Province. You can see the village view from here:



We are going to start this project in December with construction of small schoolhouse out of mud, straw, grass, and bamboo. Very excited to send you the progress later on!




Chapter 4. Projects in Bangkok


In this area, we have been conducting weekend mobile libraries and small story-telling activities with volunteers. From now on, this area will be concentrating more on administrative and PR-related work. Some of the activities that will be covered are:

      Fundraising: We will conduct various activities (e.g. book bazaar) to raise fund.

      Media coverage: We will take interviews to raise awareness towards the public.

      Delivery story-telling: Small groups of volunteers visits organizations/individuals who are in need of readers, such as elderly, persons with disabilities, hospitalized patients, etc.

      Weekend mobile library: We visit communities with committed partners and conduct 2-3 day activities to encourage reading. We will start from the community in Suphanburi Province, as this will be our official land of registration.


At the moment, activities must slow down due to the flooding, but hopefully life will be back to normal in a month or so…




Chapter 5. Picture books/kamishibai translation Project


We have over 30 volunteer translators around Thailand and beyond, willing to translate English/Japanese picture books into Thai. Then, we will use them in our activities both in Central and Northern Thailand.


There are a lot of quality picture books in Thai language, but we are looking for the following type of books (new or gently used) in English or Japanese.

      Tactile books (books that children can touch and feel)

      Pop-up books (durable ones, if possible)

      Folktales from around the world (except for well-known ones such as Isop, Grimm, Andersen, etc.)

      Picture books based on lives of children around the world (wars and conflicts, poverty, adventure, disease, etc.)

      Kamishibai (Japanese-style picture slides for story-telling)


Please send them to my apartment in Bangkok, and then I will distribute them to volunteer translators. (Please see my signature below for my postal address.)


* As we will be physically cutting and pasting the translated text onto original text in the picture books, kindly select books with less text. For instance, literature for young adults with tiny illustration for each chapter would be too difficult to be translated. If you are interested in contributing into this project in any way, please feel free to contact me.




Chapter 6. Social media and ARC


We now have a Facebook page, Twitter account, and Youtube channel. Please come back to check regularly for update.
















Chapter 7. Introduction of ARC members


Please watch this Youtube video to see some of our core members working closely with me, mainly in Bangkok area. Excuse me, the video is in Japanese, but we put detailed description in English too.







Thank you for reading all the way through. I hope to stay in touch with you more regularly so that you don’t have to read such a long story in months!


Last but not least, all staff at ARC appreciates your continuous support. Children are our future, and we do want to help open their window into the world through reading, but all the activities would not have been possible without your support. We would be very happy if you could spread the words about us to your friends and colleagues so that we can reach out to more potential bookworms here in Thailand. Here are some ways that you can join our caravan.


1. Monetary Donation:
We are currently in the process of registration as an official organization in Thailand. In the meantime, please use the following bank account. This account is to be used only for ARC activities.

Account Holder: Yoshimi Horiuchi
Bank name: Thai Military Bank
Branch: Arkhaan Yada (Yaka Building) Silom branch
Bank No.: Saving Account 232-204-9202

2. Books Donation:
Please send any type of new or gently-used books (except for textbooks) to the following address. We will use the books for children in our activities, and other books will be sold to raise fund for ARC.

Ms. Yoshimi Horiuchi
Urai Apartment 209
70 Krungthonburi Rd, Soi 4
Banglamphulang, Khlongsan,
Bangkok 10600

If you are near Chiangmai or would like to donate books for children in particular, please send them to the following address. It will be used mainly for children from various hill tribes in Phrao, Chiangmai.

Yoshimi Horiuchi
c/o Warm Heart PO Box 8
T. Wiang, A. Phrao, Chiangmai 50190

3. Volunteers:
Wherever you are, whatever you are good at, we are always happy to welcome you as our volunteer. If you are interested, please send your inquiry first. If you already know what you would like to do, please send your CV directly.
Email: volunteer@alwaysreadingcaravan.org
Our director, Yoshimi Horiuchi, can be reached at
in Thai, English, or Japanese.





Yoshimi Horiuchi

Director/Founder, Always Reading Caravan (ARC)

Urai Apartment 209

70 Krungthonburi Rd, Soi 4, Banglamphulang, Khlongsan, Bangkok 10600 THAILAND

Email: yoshimi.horiuchi@gmail.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/yoshimiarc

Twitter: www.twitter.com/yoshimiarc

Mobile in Thailand: (+66) 83-542-7283




City Blind Mouse and Country Blind Mouse

I regard myself as quite independent in terms of daily life including mobility. I go anywhere I want to go on my own, although I do ask my friends to go with me in some occasions, like shopping clothes.

 I started to walk around without sighted guide when I was 15 as I entered a boarding school 800 km away from my hometown. There was no protective family and caring neighbors there. It was not easy at first as I am very bad at directions up to now, but practice makes somewhat close to perfect, right?

So I have taken it granted that I can move around like any other people. But… it seems that the country mouse has gotten used to the city life a bit too much and forgot about the countryside.

This month, I started to live in a small town called Phrao, 90 km away from the province capital of Chiangmai, the second-largest city in Thailand. Here, ARC will start two new projects in collaboration with Warm Heart Foundation. I’m very lucky to be here, and things are going smoothly, except one tiny stumbling block…

Near my house, there is a bus stop, yes. But the bus comes only a few times in an hour (if any). Almost everyone move around on their neat motorbikes, if not vehicle.

So how do I move around?

Well, lucky me again. My colleagues and friends here comes to pick me up and drop me at home every day when I go to work at Warm Heart office. If I need something to eat, someone can take me on a motorbike.

It’s just like when I go back home in Kochi… I totally depend on people around. The only difference here is that I have to work constantly, not just relaxing at home with occasional outings.

Needless to say, I feel so grateful to have friends who offer me transportation. And like the famous Isop fable, the country mouse love the modest and peaceful way of living that she has been used to from childhood. I must admit that I do miss the freedom that I enjoy in the city like Tokyo and Bangkok…

If ever possible, genious people out there, please invent motorbike for blind mice like me! I wouldn’t be greedy and ask for the car, you know :d

Or, maybe it’s easier if I get a horse, and train him to be my guide horse that I can ride anywhere in this beautiful countryside!

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT: Always Reading Caravan (ARC) Project Assistant

Always Reading Caravan (ARC) is a non-governmental and not-for-profit organization to promote the joy of reading and learning among children with and without disabilities in Thailand.  Our missions are:
• to promote reading for pleasure,
• to provide equal reading opportunities for children from various background, and
• to encourage children with and without disabilities to mingle with one another to remove mental barrier between them.

Currently, we are planning to start two new projects in Phrao, Chiangmai in collaboration with Warm Heart Foundation.
1. Motorbike library: a mobile library on a motorbike for children in and around Huai Sai village.
2. Preparatory school for Akha children: a pre-primary school in Sip-lang village on the mountain for children from Akha tribe.

Job Description:
Ms. Yoshimi Horiuchi will be in charge of the projects mentioned above.  The project assistant is required to work closely with the director in all aspects of work.  He/she must be able to travel and make overnight trips. The main tasks are as follows:
• Conduct story-telling and other fun activities for children at the library site. The director will accompany first, but later he/she may need to conduct all the activities by himself/herself.
• Take photographs and videos.
• Drive car and motorbike.
• Has a driver’s license, and owns a car or motorbike.
• Basic computer skills (MS Word and Excel, emailing software, internet)
• Strong communication skills
• Problem-solving skills.
• Sense of responsibility.
• Adventurous and ready for challenges.
• Love working with children and youth.
• Preferably can speak English and languages of ethnic groups in the north (e.g. Akha, Lahu, Lisu, Karen, etc.).  If not, must be willing to learn from scratch.

Education Requirement: N/A (as long as you can read and write in Thai)
Language Requirement: Thai, but preferably English and Japanese
Working area: In and around Huai Sai Village, Mae-Pang Subdistrict, Phrao District, Chiangmai
Employment Type: full time
Salary Level: based on skills/experiences
• Free shared accommodation if desired (to be shared with the project director)
• Chance to learn English and Japanese
• Health insurance

How to Apply:
Interested candidates should submit a CV to
or call

Attention, attention! Application for a Great Opportunity is Now Open Again :)

A couple weeks ago, I have received a letter from a friend Noora, who is working for IISE (International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs), Kerala, India.
As many of you already know, this is where the idea of Always Reading Caravan (ARC) was born, and I have gained plenty of untradable experiences, and met many inspiring role models and friends there.
IISE is is NOT a university, but I have learned many things and skills that I would have never been able to learn in any universities around.
As Noora writes in her letter, the application for 2012 course at IISE is open now.
Please read this through, and spread the news to your friends.

Here is the letter from Noora:


 Dear Friends

Check out this new social entrepreneurship institute called the IISE, in  the back waters of the beautiful state of Kerala, South India!

This institute offers practical methods of learning that help aspiring social innovators to set up their social projects (eg., NGO’s, Charitable Institutions, Societies, Associations) back in their own countries.Their main objective is to create a network of grassroot organizations that bring positive, social change all over the world.

The unique factor of this institute is that it values passion, motivation and stories of surviving major life challenges more than educational qualifications. The only requirement is that the potential applicants to this scholarship course are conversant in at least intermediate level english and have a plan for social change.
 In case you are an aspiring social innovator or you know of someone who
please help spread the message listed below for your viewing.

Applications NOW OPEN for 2012

International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs

The International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs (IISE) is a
dream-factory where participants from all over the world share visions
acquire all necessary skills to create social change.

The IISE welcomes participants, all over 22 years of age, whom have overcome
significant life challenges ranging from vision impairment, disability,
poverty, war, discrimination and exploitation. Most of them have personally
experienced adversity or witnessed a particular situation that they wish to
change so others do not suffer. They have a passion to make the world
a better place and the strength to be forces of good rather than victims of circumstance.

The IISE does not select its participants according to
What we are looking for are motivated and dedicated individuals who have the
potential to start and run a social project.

For those who are selected, the IISE offers an 11 months high profile
unique leadership course. This course is conducted by international
who help the participants to develop all necessary skills to succeed as
social innovators.

The 2012 course will take place from Mid January 2012 till mid December

To ensure high quality training the IISE accommodates a maximum of 30
participants per academic year who are chosen through a stringent 5-step
selection process.

If you know of potential participants, please do inform them about the
existence of the IISE course and refer them to our website at

Also please send the above poster and this letter to anyone else you
would know of potential participants including individuals, your social
network contacts, organizations, student leaders etc.

Feel free to print the above poster and post it where you believe it
reach potential change makers!

If possible, post this letter and the Poster on your website as well.

Your support is greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your consideration.
With very best wishes,

Thanks and Regards,
Noora Michael

Intake and Alumni Coordinator  | Braille Without Borders | International
Institute for

Social Entrepreneurs  | noora@iiseconnect.org | office@iiseconnect.org I
www.bwb-iise.org* <http://www.bwb-iise.org/>

The Flier to call for application for IISE 2012 course in Kerala, India
The Flier to call for application for IISE 2012 course in Kerala, India

“Oh, I Have SOOO Many Friends!”

Today, I received a call from the mother of a blind boy. The boy’s family lives in Srisaked province, hundreds of kilometers away from Bangkok, and he goes to a blind school in Roi-et province under Christian Foundation for the Blind in Thailand (CFBT), which is even further away in the northeast. His mother told me that he is at home as it’s the summer break now. Here is a little chitchat I had with him over the phone, which happens to be the one of the happiest conversation I have ever had in Thailand.


Yoshi: Hi! How are you doing, dear?

Boy: I’m fine.

Yoshi: How’s school?

Boy: Oh, it’s fun!

Yoshi: Are the teachers kind to you?

Boy: Yes, they are kind.

Yoshi: Have you got new friends yet?

Boy: Oh, I have sooo many friends!


Why do I think this was one of the happiest conversation I have had in Thailand?

Well, that’s because this has been his first year at school at the age of twelve, and at one point, we thought we would never be able to get him into education system.


I met him about five years ago when I was an exchange student at Thammasat University. I visited my close friend’s hometown, and this boy’s family happened to be in the same village. My friend took me to his house, hoping that the parents could be convinced to send him to school.


He was very very shy boy, and was always staying at home. He has been to a blind school before, but his family had to take him back as he couldn’t stop crying, missing home. His mother is a lovely person, but she loved him too much, and din’t dare to let him go to boarding school alone.


Previous to that, I had met a professor from Poland, who really puts his passion into education for blind kids, especially in the field of tactile recognition. He kindly gave me something called “Wikki Sticks” which is a kind of soft rubber sticks which sticks onto smooth surface. You can form shapes and letters, and you can recognize them by touching.


So I tried to play with him with bits and pieces of Braille patterns and Wikki Sticks. But to my surprise, he was not at all interested. I soon realized that it was probably because he has never been expose to so much “touching” and “feeling.” I myself enjoy touching various objects around me and explore the world in this way, but obviously, this has been possible since people around me, like family and teachers, have encouraged me to do that.

Then, I really felt the needs for him to start learning in more stimulant setting like school.


Though it took a bit too long than we wanted, his family decided that he was old enough last year, and sent him to the school. And my goodness, how confident he sounded on the phone! It’s quite hard to put it into writing, but he sounded like a different boy. And how happy I was to learn that he now can read and write Braille, and best of all, “have sooo many friends!”


He showed the true power of education to me.

He taught me by himself that going to school absolutely change someone’s life, regardless of different circumstances.

I cannot be more happy for his wonderful start at school, and would love to congratulate his family to make a positive decision for his future.