For the past three years, we have been working together with a poor community of ethnic Mokan (sea gypsies) living on Koh Lao, an island in Ranong Province. This community, which for generations had lived on the sea, must now make their homes on the land, where they struggle for most necessities, including food, water, basic health care, and the education of their children. They also struggle for recognition as residents and citizens in the country of their birth. We don’t want them to lose their culture and religion as sea gypsies as they are a part of the wonderful mosaic of Thai peoples, but we also want them to take part in the most important Thai family holidays. Last week we joined with the village to celebrate a very traditional Thai New Year. As pictured above and below, the children gently poured water over the hands of each village elder, and the elders placed their hands on the head of each passing child, wishing each one a world of joy, health, and happiness throughout the New Year.
During the New Year holidays, our Street Teacher Kru Nang, our staff psychologist Ms. Aw, and our friends from the Child Welfare Ministry in Bangkok traveled to Ranong to help the Koh Lao village children: to teach them how to play, to create, to imagine, and most of all, to celebrate the joy of being children.