Today we went to Mae Top waterfall again with 2 friends in town who are volunteer - Vicky from England who is here with VSO and Julie from Australia who is looking for NGO work here. Poor Vicky and Julie have attempted to find Mae Top waterfall for the past 2 weekends to no avail. They did manage to find one waterfall last weekend though, and it made me laugh when we got a call from them saying “Hi we’re at the waterfall, but there’s no water here”. Hmmmmmmm….. don’t ask, I don’t know either how it’s possible for a waterfall not to have water in the height of rainy season?!
This evening Janjira’s dad came down from the mountains to pick her up and take her back home. I was really sad to see her go, even though I know she will be back again one weekend soon. I didn’t realize how attached I had become to her!
Felt so bad for her father too who had to drive 1.5 hours down from the mountains through heavy rain, and when I say heavy, I mean the tropical heavy type of rain!
She is a real diamond, has a purity that you don’t see in many teenagers today, with a pure and humble attitude towards life – she will go very far. I desperately want to help her in whatever way I can because I can see that if she’s not given the right opportunities her potential will be lost. She told me about the choices she has after finishing high school:
1) Going to a small college nearby which is close to where her father works so she can catch a lift with him or
2) Go to a college in Mae La Noi town. Which is a better college but much farther away from her home and she would have to take a local bus there
When children attend La Up school it is free. They walk or cycle to school, and don’t need to pay for books and uniforms aren’t compulsory. The only thing they need to bring to school with them is a portion of rice to have for lunch, and the school canteen has meat/vegetables for them to eat with the rice. However after they finish at this school if they want to continue education, where they can study for the equivalent of A Levels they need to go to the nearest town of Mae La Noi where there is a college. However, most children can’t afford this further education as they don’t have the money to pay for the bus to Mae La Noi, for books and for uniform.
So after they finish school most children in La Up village end up helping their families on their farms or doing manual labour. For children of wealthy families they can afford the costs of going to college.
I am going to start looking into a scholarship program for children who want to continue education but do not have the financial means to do so. When Pat enquired about costs with school teachers we found out that it costs only 15,000 baht per year for 1 child to attend college for 1 year. This is the equivalent of 150 GBP or 300 USD. This is nothing when you think of it in terms of allowing a child to finish education and gain a high school certificate, for the cost of a pair of designer shoes, a weekend break away, a nice dress or two.