Friday, December 29, 2006

Phi Phi and the Tsunami Funds

Ryan and Josh left on December 15th. Ryan headed back to the states for work and obligations. Josh headed home to Chiang Mai to manage his rock climbing business - Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures. I headed to Ko Phi Phi to investigate the impact of the tsunami and the donations that I had sent over a year and a half prior.

My quest was also to find the recipient of the remaining funds that I have. Because of all the confusion with government funding and questions about where the money was actually going, I had to get very specific and meet the people that were going to receive the rest of the tsunami money. Yes - I am shocked at how long it took to distribute the remaining funds. Traveling to Thailand, calling and setting up appointments from there was absolutely necessary to make sure the money was distributed properly.

The result? Duang Prejip Foundation out of Bangkok. I spoke with their organization representatives and they arranged a visit to an orphanage just north of Kao Lak. So, I caught a ferry to Phuket and was picked up by a few ladies and children for a van ride to the orphanage. When I arrived, 30 beautiful children, all of whom lost their parents in the tsunami, greeted me. We ate a delicious meal of rice, pork, cabbage and fish. This was a special treat for the kids because there is usually just one dish besides the rice. They had a few extra because I was there apparently. Just after dinner, I was surprised with Christmas Carols - in English - sung by the kids! I was blown away. Possibly the cutest thing I have ever seen, heard and felt!

So I got to know the ladies that take care of the children and hear their stories. Amazing stories of resilience, and love for each other. The remaining funds will go to creating a library of books for the kids to help them to read and learn. I will also provide toys and sports equipment for them to use. Including a bunch of initiative gear, along with instruction and training on how to use them. This will create long-term value for the children and this is a donation specifically for the children. The sports gear will remain and be used for a long time. I am soooo happy that I finally got the funds to where they belong. For anyone reading this that supported me in my cause - Thank you. The resources are being well taken care of and the money is going directly to the children impacted by the tsunami. My time there concluded with an interview with one of the women there. She had lost her husband, two children, parents and 5 other family members in the tsunami. Her message was so inspirational. A very brief slice and summary: Live life to the fullest every day - because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

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