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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Leelong's walk to the local shops!

An exciting update about Leelong!!! This week Leelong took a very cool walk to the local shop (check out the footage!!!)

Over the last few weeks he has shown some good progression - standing and clapping by himself, walking with the assistance of another person etc. Over the last few days he has made great use of the walker that volunteers Aoife and Becky bought for him, and on Tuesday he walked down to the local shop to buy a well deserved coke!

This was a great achievement for Leelong and we look forward to him being able to walk to the local shops unaided. Childlife has been caring for Leelong for the past few months after we found that he had been left house bound and unable to walk in his village.

To read more please click here and read the previous blog article about Leelong.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Thanks to Lisa in the US

A huge thanks to our friend Lisa who has helped us by conducting 3 small fundraisers in her home town of Montana in the USA. Lisa visited the Childlife shelter last month to donate a ping pong table and teach the kids the game pente.

At the fundraisers they sold jade horse and heart pendants/earrings they bought in Mae Sai, using the slogan 'Hearts and Horses helping Childlife Organization'. In addition to raising funds they spoke to the people and distributed information about Childlife and the situation and issues we work with to raise a greater interest and awareness about the problems.

A huge thanks to Lisa from everyone at Childlife. If you would like to help Childlife by also running a fundraiser please email us for more information.

Farewell and thanks to Jack

This week Childlife said farewell to Jack who had volunteered with Childlife over the past 2 1/2 months.

This was Jack's second stint volunteering with Childlife after first volunteering in November last year.

During Jack's time here, he spent time working and improving the Nana Buffet and Restaurant (both aesthetically and for vocational training), coordinated international volunteers, helped out in the office and spent some cool time with the children including a wicked day trip to the local cave and swimming lake.

On Jack's return to the UK he will help organise a charity ball for his mother's company of which half the money raised will go towards Childlife and our new shelter.

For Jack's goodbye he cooked the kids hamburgers which was the first for many of them, which they enjoyed immensely.

Pee Jack will be missed by all the children, staff and volunteers at Childlife.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A ka la Tseu - Akha Festival at Childlife

Over the weekend Childlife held its 2nd Akha Swing Festival which was enjoyed by our children, their families, staff and volunteers, as well as local villagers from Sean Gai, children from the DEPDC, students from Mae Far Luang University, children from the local Sankhong School and Mirror Art Foundation.

The Akha Swing Festival is the best known of all Akha celebrations and one of the most important rituals in the Akha calendar. The festival is held once the rice harvest has matured marking the end of the hard weeding work and takes place approximately two months before the harvest season. In essence, this is a sacred thanksgiving ritual and a time of celebration.

Preparation for the festival at Childlife commenced on Friday with the building of the traditional Akha swing, constructed from bamboo poles and rope. Although traditionally there would be no swinging until the following day the temptation was far too great for both our staff and children alike!

The main festivities kicked off on Saturday morning with the traditional sacrifice of a black pig followed by a reading of its liver carried out by the Sean Gai village elder in order to foresee what the coming year has in store. Thankfully Childlife was predicted a prosperous future with many more children joining our ever expanding family.

These rituals were then followed by the Swing Ceremony, where the village elder performed a traditional offering of grass (harvest), stone (strength) and thorn (protection) to ancestors to ensure a good harvest, strength and protection for the community. Our good friend Aju provided everyone with an explanation of the history and traditions involved in the Swing Ceremony. The first to swing is the village elder followed by a female villager. Kru Ngaow was then the next person to swing, proving that quite a bit of skill and technique is needed for the swinging action! We were also lucky enough to experience the traditions of the swing ceremony’s bamboo dance accompanied by the rhythmic beats of the drums.

A feast was had for both lunch and dinner as ample food during the festival ensures a rich harvest and plentiful food throughout the year. Celebrating the Swing Festival is a way of saying thanks and expressing respect for food.

After lunch both the children of Childlife and DEPDC displayed their many singing and dancing talents on stage. There was also a performance from Aya, the winner of the last ‘Akha Idol’ singing competition, which was a highlight for many of the children.

Another highlight of the afternoon was the attempts of the children to reach the 500B which is placed on the top of a 6m tall bamboo pole. Generally climbing things is a speciality of many of the children, however when the bamboo is greased with some cooking oil the task is made that little bit more difficult! That didn’t stop many of them from trying with 4 boys finally succeeding with a team effort.

After the evening meal we heard an encore performance from Aya as well as a beautiful performance from Charlih, one of Childlife’s older boys, who is an incredibly gifted guitarist and singer. The ‘Dek Doh’, older children, closed the festival with a very fun and entertaining play.

The first Akha Festival was held last year to enable the children of Childlife (of which almost 90% are from the Akha minority group) to celebrate a traditional event in their calendar.

The festival gives the children the opportunity to get in touch and learn more about their wonderfully rich culture and traditions as well as to help instill a sense of pride in their history. This is particularly significant as the Akha people verbally pass down their traditions and knowledge through the generations, without the need for written records.

A huge thanks to Global Youth, Dom and Leni for funding this important cultural activity and a great weekend of fun for the children.

Thanks to Jake

Childlife would like to thank Jake from the USA for volunteering with Childlife through i-to-i over the last 4 weeks.

During his time Jake taught at the local Sangkong School and did some cool activities at the shelter with the children, including painting the visitor rules on the wall (check out the cool pic)!

Jake's cool calm attitude will be missed by everyone!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Make over for Nana Buffet

The Childlife Nana Buffet and Restaurant in Mae Sai has recently received a make over thanks to the assistance of "Training for Travel" who are a major training provider for the travel industry in the UK.

Over the past month Nana Buffet and Restaurant has been receiving a makeover with new signage, new paint work and new heating plates to keep the buffet food warm.

The new signage has helped to increase the awareness of the restaurant in Mae Sai and has resulted in busier trading for the buffet.

In additon, a new burger and shakes bar has been opened to provide an international flavour to the restaurant.

The Nana Buffet and Restaurant was opened last year thank to the financial support of the British Council in Thailand for the Needy (BCTFN) to provide vocational training for our children and assist Childlife to become sustainable.

If you are in Mae Sai, please come taste our delicious food and support our Restaurant and our children.

Happy Mothers Day!

As Sunday was the Queen's birthday in Thailand the country also celebrated Mothers Day.

At the shelter families of some of the children visited to celebrate the occasion. We were very happy to have some great friends come and provide a special lunch for the children and their families including chicken curry, noodles and fruit.

Afterwards the children had a small party in the hall which included lots of kareoke. There was also a display of the artistic and creative works the children had been working on all week for the occasion.

The day was heaps of good fun however was quite emotional for many of the children and the families who attended.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Football visits Childlife and Sankhong

The children at Childlife and Sankhong school were treated to an afternoon of football fun thanks to a visit from Joel Rookwood from the Liverpool Football Academy and three of his mates.

The children were taken through some sprinting and dribbling skills and heaps of other fun games including relays of human chains, 2 kids running with the football between their heads, catching and head butting the ball.

Joel also taught some of the older children some cool tricks with the football.

The fun was finished off with 2 mini games with the kids receiving some medals from Liverpool Football Club that will be kept at the shelter and the school.

Afterwards the boys visited the shelter for a quick tour.

We thank them for providing the kids an afternoon of very cool fun :)

Irish girls say goodbye

Yesterday the children at Childlife said goodbye to Aiofe and Becky from Ireland who volunteered with us for 4 weeks through i-to-i.

During their time they taught at Sankhong school and spent some great time with the children at the shelter. They taught some of the children some Irish dancing and did a heap of creative and arty activities.
In addition Aiofe, a physio student, together with Becky worked closely with Leelong on his rehab. During their time they helped Leelong from being unable to sit up unassisted to standing without assistance and the aid of a table. They surprised Leelong in their last week with great present for his rehab, a walker. Leelongs eyes lit up when he saw this and wanted to try it straight away.

They also did a presentation on Leelong’s case including a program of activities to undertake after they leave.

A big thanks for everyone at Childlife for your time with us, well miss you both a lot!


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