Sunday Mail Column for Sunday 7 March: Helping orphans in Thailand
It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means it’s time to donate $10 to a worthy cause. So far hundreds of Sunday Mail readers – working as a group – have put books into the hands of young girls in Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan and paid for more bedding to ease the plight of Australia’s homeless. So what is the First Sunday Club aiming to do this month?
We’re helping orphans in Thailand.
Few of us will forget watching the horror of the Boxing Day Tsunami unfold on our TV screens in 2004. The destruction of the environment and human life was hard to comprehend.
Peter Baines was working in Forensics with the NSW police force when the Tsunami hit and was part of the team despatched to Thailand to help identify bodies. Once there, Peter was confronted with the shocking reality that vast numbers of Thai children had not only lost both their parents but also their extended families. With their homes and villages also completely destroyed countless small children were living in tents, left to fend for themselves. So Peter, together with UK policewoman Gil Williams, set up a charity – Hands Across The Water (Hands).
To date, Hands has built two orphanages and a community sports field in the badly damaged Baan Nam Khem region of Phuket. They’ve purchased trucks, cars and motorbikes so the kids can get to school, are running sponsorship and scholarship programs to fund the kids’ education and fund a full time nurse who works at the orphanages.
In a significant step towards self-sustainability Hands has also recently established a rubber plantation and fish farm that, once mature, will generate an income for many years to come.
In 2010 Hands will build a medical and community centre at a cost of over AUD $1 million.
My good friend Bobby Cox, Marketing Manager of Ideal Electrical, recently completed an 800km bide ride through Thailand to raise money for Hands. Just five weeks ago, Bobby was standing in the Hands orphanages, seeing for himself what the charity was providing.
“The orphanages are beautiful places that give the kids all the love and care they need,” Bobby tells me. “All the kids are enrolled in school – a good education is vital because it enables them to take care of themselves and become leaders of their community.”
According to Bobby, just ten dollars will pay for twelve weeks of school for each child.
Every cent donated goes directly to improving the lives of the children
at the orphanages. Not one cent is spent on administration and there are
no political or religious ties. Any costs incurred in running the
charity are personally absorbed by Peter and other board members.
So it’s time to hand over your moula. Go to www.handsacrossthewater.com.au and click the donate button. Or send a cheque to “Hands Across The Water”, PO Box 4337, Castlecrag NSW 2068.
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Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.