HELP ME VOLUNTEER IN THAILAND & LAOS
While I was in Chiang Mai I had the opportunity to work with an amazing Arts organization, Art Relief International, under the umbrella of a larger NGO, Cultural Canvas. Each day, we would travel to another, (sometimes 2), NGO's that served people in need. My work with orphans, HIV children, children with other physical or debilitating conditions became a life changing event for my self.
As a side project, I was asked to tutor Buddhist Monks and although I was hesitant initially out of fear of the unknown, I accepted the challenge and met 3 of the most amazing young men I have met to this point in my life. What started out as a challenge for my self has turned into an ongoing friendship that has had the opportunity to grow and flourish since that initial meeting.
In September of 2012, I returned to Chiang Mai to continue work with Art Relief International and spend as much time as possible with Phra's Kritsada, Yee and Khamla.
I recently sold 2 pieces of artwork and passed along the money to Phra Khamla who was raising funds to provide athletic equipment, books and other basic necessities desperately needed in rural schools in his home country, Laos.
This year, as part of my 49th birthday I will return to Chiang Mai to continue my volunteer work with those in need. I am in the planning stages of helping out at Art Relief International as well as providing tutoring to Monks and assistance to Professors at the Buddhist University in Chiang Mai. And as a result of my success in providing Phra Khamla with needed funds, we have decided to visit his homeland with Phra's Kritsada and Yee and with donations received here, we will visit and provide a number of schools with additionally needed items.
All of the 2012 Chiang Mai Edition prints that I am offering are printed by my self using oil based inks, 100% acid free paper and are suitable for framing.
Funds raised will help towards travel costs, lodging, donations to Lao schools and transportation to and from Thailand to laos for my self and Phra's Kritsada, Khamla and Yee.
It is my hope that I will raise enough money to suitably suppliment my own funds and provide enough financial assistance to be in Thailand from mid-September through the end of October.
Good Morning friends in the East. A beautifully sunny morning here in Chiang Mai.
Here's a little mini-documentary of my recent volunteer trip to Laos with Phras Khamla Yotthavong, Yee Vongpaseuth, Kritsada Prueprung and Rit Yanawutti NP.
Thank you again to all of those who contributed to my fundraising efforts, I will be mailing out your Art Rewards as soon as I get back to NYC later this week.
If anyone else is interested in contributing for the next Building Bridges trip in the Spring, information is at the end of the video. It includes a request from anyone working in a company that does PR work by giving out pens, pencils, backpacks, book bags, t-shirts, etc. If you have leftover items from any give-aways, we would be happy to take them off your hands and pass them out to any schools we visit.
Thanks again, and please enjoy my fumbling through the few Laos/Thai words in the voice over I did for the video. ;)
I wanted to let everybody know that your contributions are allowing myself and Phras Kritsada, Yee and Khamla provide much needed school supplies and individual scholarships to a number of students.
The video below is our most recent trip to an elementary school that Kritsada attended in his hometown of Loei Province, Thailand. About an 8-10 bus ride from Chiang Mai where I am presently based at. We had an absolutely amazing trip, the school was incredibly appreciative of our visit, in fact, we showed up on a Sunday, (a non school day), and the Director of the school was there as well as all of the teachers and 20 students attended dressed in their school uniforms.
If you're on FB, you've probably seen some of the other fun things we did while visiting the school and staying with Kritsada's family. It is a trip I will never forget and am continually reminded and humbled by being given this opportunity by all of your generous contributions.
On the 22nd of October, the four of us will be venturing to Laos and visiting 2 additional schools, one with over 100 students and a much smaller rural school. We will once again be using your contributions to distribute classroom books, scholarships and sports supplies for the rural school.
Stay tuned for pictures and another video after we complete this next trip.
And if you want, we will gladly accept any additional donations and apply them to our trip next week.
Just an update on my travels in S.E. Asia.
I arrived just in tme for my Birthday on September 12th, a bit exhausted from the 36 hour door to door travel time, but thrilled to be here on my very birthday.
I was unexpectedly met by Phra Kritsada at the airport here in Chiang Mai and was promptly thrown into life here in the old city. Even 3 weeks after arriving, I am still adjusting to the weather, (rainy season, 90+ degrees almost every day), the pace of the city, (not quite as fast paced as NYC, and a bit of a challenge with my body and brain having to slow down), and missing my Mimz, (plenty of dogs here).
I've been keeping myself busy drawing almost on a daily basis, in between the searing sun and the sudden downpours and have completed the drawing part of 9 new linocuts. I've decided this time around to focus on the Lunar Calendar Animals that represent various birth years and are visible in many forms throughout temples here in Chiang Mai. So far, I have managed to capture 5 different creatures. Once again, timing is everything when trying to find a shady and/or dry spot in order to draw one of these guys.
Volunteer work within actual NGO's has been a lot less than I anticipated. Art Relief International actually has a very full roster of volunteers at the moment and extra hands aren't always needed out at the various orgs that they visit and Care for Dogs, the other NGO I had high hopes of working with became a personal challenge for myself after traveling 30 minutes out to their location, (an expensive trek each way), and an experience once there that made me realize that perhaps animal rescue/animal shelter work is not in my future. Without going into details, let me just say that working that closely with dogs in need was a little too close to my heart. I left the day there broken-hearted and embarrassed to be part of the human race responsible for the condition of these helpless creatures.
So while here for the remainder of my visit, I have decided to turn my efforts to occasionally helping out at Art Relief International when they need an extra pair of hands and participating in 2 amazing trips with a group of 3-4 Buddhist monks who will be traveling to schools in their respective hometowns, 1 in Thailand, (a 10-hour overnight bus ride, lord help me), and another trip to Laos later this month.
We will be bringing much needed school supplies, I hope to do a little art project with some of the kids, (details to follow), the guys will incorporate Dhamma talks and we may even get the chance to have a little fun with reading a kids book in Thai, with English subtitles. It should be noted here, many of these kids have never seen a foreigner in real life, we'll be going to some schools in very rural parts of each country. Funding for these efforts come directly from funds provided by all of my generous contributors. I will be sure to pass along to the students that they have friends from all over the world hoping they get some joy and inspiration from all of us.
One of the gentlemen joining us, Phra Yee, an aspiring photographer/filmmaker will be documenting our travels with a camera that has been provided to him with funds raised above my initial goal of $5000.00 and supplemented by my own personal funds. (Thank you Joshua Fennel for throwing an unexpected freelance job my way before I left NYC).
This next 3 weeks proves to be a new direction in my life and one I gladly walk into openheartedly and welcoming all possibilities of change and challenge.
Things are never really quite what they appear on face value here in this part of the world, and schedules are really more of a Western concept than a S.E. Asian occurrence.
Apologies for typos, weird words, messed up sentences, my brain is functioning on a variety of conflicting paths. ;O)
I am still looking for contributions to add to the funds raised to purchase a good quality digital camera for my friend Phra Yee, who has graciously agreed to document or upcoming volunteer trip to Laos, his home country, with friends Phra Kritsada and Phra Khamla.
As well as being a monk in Chiang Mai Thailand, Phra Yee is an aspiring photographer who recently received scholarship to study photography.
So far, I have received $200 on GoFundMe that I am applying to this and I am contributing $200 of my own funds from a fun freelancing job that a buddy unexpectedly passed along to me.
I'm hoping for another $200-300 in order to purchase the camera we've looked at which will not only be used for still pics, but for video that I will be able to upload while on my travels. The camera will then be donated to Phra Yee in order to continue his own personal photography journey.
I am making this special print available for $125.00 to add to the camera funds.
Only 4 made, 100% acid-free Rives BFK paper.
Please contact me if you're interested in helping out.
Peace and have a beautiful Saturday,