January 2018 – Nok, one of our volunteers in Nan Province, was contacted by a friend to see if we would be willing to help fix the roof over the children’s wash station at Piangluang school. The school had requested assistance from the regional school district, but there was no funding. Thailand is similar to the U.S. in that school budgets tend to reflect local incomes. Piangluang is a poor hill-tribe village on the Laos boarder. Nutchaya, the school Principle, got an estimate of about $500 USD for materials. We agreed to sponsor the project and stopped in for a visit on our annual trip in January, 2018. As you can see from the photos, the roof was certainly in need of repair.
Replacing the rotting wooden posts and framework with new wood was not a long-term solution. After discussing design options with Soegsan, the school handyman, we opted to build the replacement from steel. It cost a little more but it will last a lot longer. Nutchaya accompanied us to a local town where we ordered the roof panels and steel framing needed along with fasteners, welding rod, rust-proof paint, etc. The materials cost about $700 USD but I think it was worth it.
While discussing the wash station project with the school Principle, we discovered that they had another, urgent problem – they were about to lose their kindergarten teacher, Chitra. The school district cut their budget and will only pay for three teachers to cover kindergarten through 6th grade. Chitra’s contract is up in March, 2018 and won’t be renewed this year. Nutchaya has petitioned for her salary in 2019 but the budget is set for this year. The kids love her, as do the villagers. In fact, they took up a collection to try to keep her. But these are poor farmers and it just wasn’t enough for her to live on. She has kids of her own. To make matters worse, her husband is Soegsan, the school handyman. The school would lose both of them if she had to leave the village to find work. Her salary? The equivalent of $1850 USD per year, a bargain by any standard. So Thainitiative has pledged to cover her salary for the rest of the year. Hopefully, Nutchaya will be successful in getting Chitra’s salary budgeted for 2019. In the meantime, the Piangluang children get to keep a beloved teacher and their handyman. That’s a win for everyone.
The day after we left, the village men teamed up with Soegsan to build the new roof over the washbasin. They wasted no time and completed the project in just a few days. Thank you to all the Thainitiative supporters who donated to this cause. Check the photos of the completed project below. We will updated this page with progress on the kindergarten teacher’s situation.