Hilltribe School – Mae Na Chon

Here is a tale to pull the heart strings and give you a little faith in humanity.
My friend (an off-road tour company owner and animalistic drummer!) Alan, came across a hill tribe school when searching for new tour trails. This school was in dire need of some assistance as it was poorly funded. The main care for the upkeep was1000123_669602136401697_1903181080_n coming from the Royal Thai Border Patrol Police and the Army, with teaching carried out by volunteers. The children and their families were quite poor in the region, and there was very little in t1001678_669602683068309_1504421451_nhe way of facilities, including running water.

So Alan, being the soft-hearted gentle giant that he is, after speaking with the staff and border police, decided that he would make an appeal to help the school out. Over the course of a few years, with the help of the local community and volunteers at the school, lots of fantastic improvements took place.

By the time I went along for the first time, some of these changes had already taken place and work was ongoing. On this particular day (14th August 2013) it was more about a celebration day for the children. Essential items were taken up in 4×4 trucks and a few riders who had donated came along for the ride. A bit of fun was organised for the children970010_669602719734972_1429968014_n, which included a giant bag of toys for them to enjoy (which was part of the Chiang Mai ToyRide, an annual fundraiser for children in need.)

Me, not knowing what services to offer for that day, fell back upon face-painting, which I had done on a few occasions in the past with a bit of success. So, armed and ready, I waited for the children to come over and have their faces painted upon.


None came.
They were super shy! 

One of the volunteer teachers rounded up a couple of the children (haha, poor things!) and veered them in my direction. I had already printed out a collection of face paint designs I had gathered from the net (spiderman, butterfly face, etc), so i showed the paper to the first wary victim sitting in front of me. His eyes lit up as he pointed to Spiderman. So..Spiderman he became. This got the other boys a little excited and a low hum of whispers started circulating among them. The next brave victim took the seat and became Batman. The hum of whispers then started getting louder and the buzz of energy was starting to draw in curious faces.1003181_669602036401707_1427488654_n By the time I had finished the third face and looked up, i could no longer see the same surroundings I had before. I was now right in the center of a mob of children all battling to get a view of the facepainting going on. Haha! Great!

HOWEVER, I then realised that I had a sea of eager faces all wanted to be painted on, but only one of me. I needed to step up the pace, drastically!

I really don’t think i have ever painted that many faces in such a short duration in my entire life. I just didn’t want to let any of the children down. By the end of it I was hot and sweaty but I felt absolutely wonderful. I looked around and saw children playing the roles of their painted faces, whereas before they were being shy and reserved. Success!

But getting back to the important stuff. Over the course of a couple of years hundreds of thousands of baht was raised. This money transformed not only the school, but paid for necessary items such as warm winter blankets and health care, such as eye testing and spectacles.
I had the joy of returning again a year later to help paint the outside of the school building. Was a fun day even though I was initially teased by friends for wearing a disposable pink rain jacket (joke was on them when I had no paint splashes to worry about though!). It seemed that some of the children remembered me from before, but most were too shy to speak. They just would stand and watch a little then run away with nervous giggles when spoken to. One boy in particular though was very brave and practiced his English on me. I was very impressed! 1609753_895732617121980_1741569107834614989_n

It was a very heartwarming experience and wonderful to have had the chance to go along.
Hope it gave you a nice warm feeling too 😀

To end, I should give a quick plug 10557447_10152627203524509_5615172775336651390_nfor Alan’s tour company which offers amazing tour packages. If you check his website you will see what I mean. He offers fully supported and fully inclusive, motorbike tours for off-road, on-road & enduro: Thai Bike Tours994857_669602423068335_928827495_n602704_669602479734996_2095469253_n


*NOTE* A couple of these photos are from others who attended the event and not my property

Have you ever taken part in The Toy Ride here in Chiang Mai?
What stories have touched your heart?
    Comment below! 😀

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