Last year Midge McCormack, who used to teach at Shaw Ridge Primary School raised £2,000 to renovate the school kitchen at the Isaan Boys’ Town in North East Thailand, part of the Joe Homan foundation. In December she went there to see how it was spent.
“Returning to the materialism of Christmas just after coming back was a real shock,” said Midge. “The Buddhist culture that I’d experienced was completely the opposite. People have only what they need and anything beyond that only causes stress and worry.”
She and her travel companion Rosemary Phillimore expected to mend clothes and mosquito nets during their time with the boys, but instead were struck by their resourcefulness and entrepreneurial skills.
Midge said, “they grow their own produce and orchids, which they sell to raise funds, and they do all their own laundry, ironing, cooking and sewing. They also had just received a donation of brightly coloured mosquito nets, so we spent most of our time talking to them in English and helping them build their confidence in the language.”
The Isaan Boys’ Town celebrated its 20th anniversary during their trip, and charity founder Joe Homan himself flew in from India for the party.
The Boys Town is run by 76 year old Dr Anukul. “He’s such an inspirational man,” said Midge. “The boys are aged 11 to 18 and they are all so happy and cooperative. There was no aggression at all in their behaviour, and it was quite amazing how they stood by each other.”
The poverty and lack of possessions became especially apparent on a tour of the boys’ dormitories, with four boys sharing a cupboard to store their school books and an occasional toy.
Midge and Rosemary are hoping to establish closer links between Swindon schools and Isaan Boys Town through a website and resource pack for teachers.
Midge added, “the boys thought I was a bit famous when I showed them my picture in The Link.”
• Midge raised a further £350 at a Bombay Lounge charity curry evening at the end of January, plus £126 from a raffle