The calling to light up Thailand happened during a FFM pilgrimage trip to Sri Lanka in 2004. Through encounters like these, we realise that the benefits of each FFM overseas trip cannot be underestimated as it can unexpectedly bring new opportunity and inspirations to donors, volunteers and beneficiaries.
It was during the Sri Lanka trip when one of the participants, Mae Chee Tay suggested that we made a recce trip to Maesot (border to Myanmar/Thailand) to give assistance to a group of needy Karen farmers who can be reached only via the jungle road. During the raining season, the road was so wet and muddy that the four wheel drive vehicles required tire chains and road travel was not possible during the heavy monsoon season. Hence, very few locals travel to the village and likewise, the villagers are not able to travel freely for economic purpose which contributed to their material poverty. The Karen villagers rely on a generator for electricity and rain or rivers for their water supply. Parents do not permit their children to travel many kilometers to school by foot due to safety reasons, and the lack of education hinders their path out of poverty.
In year 2005, a group of 13 FFM volunteers brought along food supplies purchased at Mae Sot town/Muser market for distribution to the villagers with the guidance from the various Kruba Ajahns namely Ajahn Tham, Ajahn Siak, Ajahn Piak and Ajahn Chad who are residing within the mountainous terrain.
Over the past 8 years, Firefly Mission has contributed in a number of ways for the Sangha and villagers at Maesot. On the most recent FFM trip in January 2013, the group observed that the standard of living has significantly improved and that the villagers are much more confident.
The FFM projects in Maesot are as follows :
- Improvement to road and paths which were dangerous for vehicle travel. Not only are the roads safer for drivers and passengers during the raining season, better road access enabled the villagers to improve their economic situation
- Construction of a girls hostel near a local government school so that the villagers can send their children to be educated in a safe environment. This in turn encouraged more parents to support education for their children.
- Construction of village school so that more children can receive education.
FFM supported a portion of the building fund in Sam Mung Teang @ Mae Sot
FFM supported building of one class room at Huay Mei Han
- Donations to the laying of water pipes from river to new water tanks and new toilets so that villagers basic needs are met.
- Donated grainary machinery to Ban Pa Ka and Huay Cheng Lai villages to improve efficiency in processing the grains.
- Donated a football field for the Huay Cheng Lai, Ban Pa Ka, Sam Meng Theng for community building.
Over the years, during FFM trips to Maesot, we took the opportunity to bring and distribute items which the villagers need ranging from food supplies, books and stationery to warm clothing. FFM volunteers also enjoyed interacting and playing with the children. Here are some photos filled with happy memories from previous FFM trips to Maesot…