Through a set of life circumstances, we discovered Baan Unrak in the fall of 2010. Baan Unrak is a “Children’s Home” located in Sangkhlaburi, Thailand, near the border of Myanmar. Baan Unrak was created more than 2 decades ago when Didi Ananda Devamala (Donata Dolci), moved to the region in order to provide assistance to the refugees after a significant episode of civil unrest in Myanmar. The story is reminiscent of that of Mother Teresa, as she was providing health care, food and support to refugees.
The story began when Didi found an abandoned child in the jungle. She thought to herself, “If I can take care of myself, I can certainly share my resources and take care of a child,” so she adopted the child. She later found another one, and another, and soon mothers in despair began bringing their children to her… and in this fashion, Didi literally became the mother of more than 100 children.
Today, Baan Unrak provides shelter, food, education and boundless love to nearly 150 children. After nearly 2 decades, 6 of these children have attended the University in Bangkok. Currently, a dozen teenagers are being home schooled while the rest are attending the local elementary school created and managed by Baan Unrak. The little ones, being still too young for school, stay at Baan Unrak with the mothers and staff. In a region of immense risk for human trafficking and abuse of all kinds, Baan Unrak is truly a haven of safety, peace, love and education for these children.
Since the beginning, funding has been the constant challenge for Baan Unrak to get by, let alone flourish. The main source of income at Baan Unrak is donations and virtually every month, their needs exceed their means. Baan Unrak has a weaving center that generates about 15% of its overall financial need. Aside from the income it generates, the weaving center provides job for mothers, which allows them to stay with their children and have a decent life, thereby protecting the family unit. If we could develop Baan Unrak’s weaving center, we could achieve two very important goals: rendering Baan Unrak financially independent and giving jobs and a future to local refugees, which in turn would protect these families.
Well: One of Baan Unrak’s greatest weaknesses is its access to water. In the spring of 2011, during 2 months the community was without water and had to truck its water from town daily. This was quite a challenge since Baan Unrak no longer has a pickup truck to perform this kind of task. So for 2 months they depended on the assistance of local people. It is easy to imagine the challenge of housing 150 children without water. The situation could be easily remedied because there is plenty of water in Baan Unrak’s ground, it is simply a matter of digging a well. The cost of digging a well would be approximately $30,000.
Truck and vehicles: Baan Unrak acquired in 2011 a tractor that allowed the community to save thousands of dollars on the various work of construction and necessary renovation in the community. However, its old pickup truck broke and has been found to be beyond repair. Without a truck and/or a minivan Baan Unrak cannot deliver food to the refugees in the jungle, bring children to town or to Bangkok when needed, and carry heavy items such as water. One pickup truck, one minivan and a few motored bicycles ($30,000) would greatly enhance Baan Unrak’s quality of life, functionality and mission.
Plantation: A land adjacent to Baan Unrak’s has access to a natural spring that could provide enough water for Baan Unrak’s farming activities, aside from providing nearly 100 acres of land that is ideal for a plantation. We are currently envisioning a plantation of fruits that have high value as dietary supplements in America and Europe, such as Indian gooseberry or mangosteen. Such a project would generate further income for Baan Unrak and provide jobs for men in the area, further strengthening the unity of families in the area. The sooner this property is acquired, the sooner we can begin the process of planting and managing the land, which would begin to yield crops in 3-5 years after planting, depending on the crop. The current price for this land is set at $100,000.