We are getting closer to wrapping up the 2021 Children's Winter Clothing Appeal. In January, President and Project Champion Dylan continued delivering warm clothes, jackets, blankets, shoes, and toys to two more vulnerable communities.
The first destination was the Ban Mae La Ma School in an impoverished remote Karen village in the Sop Moei district of Mae Hong Son Province. President Dylan had made three delivery attempts in Phitsanulok and Uttaradit Provinces before he finally left the donations with this village. We deliver only to truly deserving communities. They must be located at a high elevation (where there is cold weather in Thailand), hard to access, and impoverished. The three above mentioned villages did not meet the criteria. Therefore, this load ended up traveling for three days and over 1,400 kilometers by the time we found a suitable destination.
The second destination was Ban Mo Khi in Omkoi, Chiang Mai Province. It is believed to be the hardest-to-access village in Northern Thailand. President Dylan, our daughter, Charlotte, and I delivered winter clothes to this ethnic Karen hill tribe of 200 residents on impassable steep roads littered by rocks, fine sand, and mud. They have no electricity, phone service, or Internet connection. For 5-6 months of the year, these villagers lose contact with the outside world. They cannot leave their village due to the heavy downpours in the rainy season. A doctor pays a visit to them once every month when it is possible.
There is one shared truck for two villages in the area, which the local teacher owns. If he relocates, those villages will lose the only truck they can use. Even though the vehicle was a four-wheel drive, it failed to tow us out or drive up to the hill to call for help when our truck got stuck. We had to stay overnight and wait for the government to send a rescue truck. A Karen family gave us food and shelter for the night. The adults did not speak Thai, but their two children did, and our 7-year-old Thai-speaking daughter, Charlotte, made friends with them, and they played together.
We can attest that temperatures drop down significantly at night, and boy, we were lucky that we had warm blankets! The morning came, and still, nobody came to our rescue. It turned out that the government wanted to send us a tractor. However, being a Sunday, they could not find an available driver. A couple of hours later, our knight in shining armor arrived in the form of a heavily reinforced and equipped 4WD pickup truck. By the end of the trip, our vehicle had lost two of its tires, a rooftop rack, suffered damages to its body, and became incapacitated for two weeks. (No passenger was injured.) Regardless, it was a great adventure!
So far, we have distributed donations to sixteen remote, hard-to-access locations (marked with red hearts) in eight Northern provinces, namely Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Tak, Nan, Phayao, Mae Hong Son, and Uttaradit. Amongst the beneficiaries are refugees, hill tribes, migrants, and local villagers - people of Lua, Palong, Lahu, Lisu, Karen, Shan, Thai, Burmese, Kayan, and Mien origin. In addition, the Burma Children Medical Fund delivered donations on our behalf to newly displaced refugees in Mae Sot, Tak. The donations weighed 9,392.69 kgs (20,707.34 lbs).
Thanks to the generous donors at Lanna International School, we have received another truckload of winter clothes that we will deliver in the coming weeks. In addition, our long-time project partner, Philanthropy Connections, got in touch with us and said that they wish to send some more donations along. We will report on our latest delivery trip (marked with a green heart) in the next CMIRC Bulletin. In the meantime, you can read more details about this project on our website and watch videos of our delivery trips on the CMIRC Facebook Page and Instagram.