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Opening of Sunshine Kids Center in Siplang Village

After 3 months of ups and downs since January this year, we finally reached the day to open the door of the early learning center for Akha children in Siplang Villagein Doi Monlan, Wiang-pa-pao, Chiangrai. Inspired by the idea of Mr. Katsuhiro Mizuno, our main donor (an architect from Gifu, Japan), we named it Sunshine Kids Center. As you can see in the photos, we made the sign board with 4 languages: English, Thai, Akha, and Japanese, to indicate that this center is the result of collaboration by many organizations and people around the world.

The moment we brought in blackboard, colorful books, toys, and puzzles, purchased with support from all children and adults at Bangkok Prep school, children started to stream into the center. All kids, big and small, literate and not yet so, got to enjoy all the cool stuff 🙂

Saturday went by in an instant as we did last-minute preparation–paving the path to the bathroom at the back, putting up the sign board and the banner, organizing books and tory in places, etc. We had our first meeting with the parents to talk about school schedule and other small but important agreements. When Yoshi was having the meeting, Tuu was busy reading to a bunch of eager kids (including those who don’t understand Thai language!).

To mark this day, we held a small opening ceremony on Sunday morning. Since Siplang is a Christian village, we started by singing gospel songs and hymns outside the center. P’Sem, the religious leader and the main constructor, led the prayer before opening the door. All of us went inside, and exchanged thanks and happiness inside the cool and cozy room. Kids couldn’t stand listening, so they started to reach books to read as grownups talked :p

Of course, this is just the beginning of the center’s history, but we definitely feel that it was a major milestone. We are so grateful for each and every individuals and organizations who care about us and support us from near and far. THANK YOU!!

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.