It’s been almost 2 years since I last came to Baan San Fan and there have been a number of changes in both the orphanage and the kids.
The orphanage is almost entirely run without ongoing funding so one of the biggest objectives has always been to be self-sustainable. When I came last time it was as a voluntourist through an agency and I was one of the first to come (through that route). Baan San Fan wanted to see if voluntouring was a viable way of generating an income. The problem was that between the volunteers and the orphanage there were two agents (Andaman Discoveries and WAVA) and by the time they’d taken their cuts there was very little left for Gai and Sam. That’s not to say that this model cannot work and Home and Life have proved that it can be effective. Its also important to note that Andaman Discoveries were integral in the initial process and helped us enormously, but, from a financial perspective, we needed to go it alone to make it cost-effective.
The alternative to agents was to deal directly with volunteers and generate enquiries using the website. We modernised the site and optimized it so that it was receiving traffic. I’m sure that many of you that are reading this will have come through that route. I’m glad to say that this has been very effective and BSF now have enough volunteers and home-stayers to cover the monthly costs of the orphanage. Its important, however, that we generate a little more so that the orphanage can actually start to replace some of their essentials such as the car (now 10 years old), the kitchen fridge and the furniture.
Interestingly many of the volunteers have subsequently taken it upon themselves to go home and raise more money and this has helped enormously. Gai and Sam send their thanks to everyone who has helped in whatever way.
Some of the other projects are going well too. We seem to be rich in fruit these days and everywhere I look I see bananas, pineapples, jack fruit, mangoes, papaya, mangostines and star fruit.
The chicken farm has gone from strength to strength and they now have a large ‘coop’ which is home to several hundred birds. BSF has an ongoing agreement with Wicked Diving to sell them eggs for their live-aboards. We also have a ‘organic producer’ certificate now from the government which allows us to sell products to organic suppliers such as Pura.
The ducks and geese that we rescued from the market are all growed up and there are now several goslings wandering around the farm. Unfortunately all 3 of the ducks turned out to be boys so no eggs and no babies. Must improve on my avian-sexing skills!!!
Sadly, the organic gardening hasn’t gone too well because flooding destroyed many of the beds but there are still beans and chillies. Sadly the flooding also meant that the pigs had to leave.
Sam has two new projects. Firstly he uses the chicken poop as fertiliser for his palm trees and has managed to produce two tonnes of fruit which will be sold at market. Secondly, all of the waste food from the kitchen is now used to produce gas and more fertiliser.
So, overall things are going well. Everybody that has visited the orphanage can be proud to have been a part of the ongoing success.
Since I came Mo Mae has left to go to university and Tang Mae got married and had a baby. Num and his wife have also had a baby.
4 new children have joined the orphanage.
Sadly Bew was taken away by her mother. Her father begged Gai not to allow this but she was powerless under Thai law. My understanding is that she is now working on a rubber farm.
One of the older girls – Ing – who used to be at BSF (and visited many times when i was here last) was sadly killed in a motor bike accident.
Much of the orphanage was badly damaged by a storm last year which ripped off the roofs of houses 1 and 2 (boy’s hut and volunteer’s hut). It also destroyed the old chicken house. A group of volunteers from Singapore managed to raise enough money to rebuild everything. Obviously special thanks go to them.
The money that was raised by viewers of the Batchelorette Baan San Fan show (over $4000 thank you, thank you, thank you) was used to build a fence around the farm and stop the thieves and the dogs.