Maekok River Village Resort
VWB has been in partnership with Meakok River Village Resort (MRVR) and Outdoor Educational Centre since 2004. Our community project programme began with the discovery that many local schools in the Mae Ai area struggled to provide adequate facilities for their students, especially in terms of sufficient and hygienic toilets, canteens and kitchens and in some cases fresh water supplies. One of the first projects undertaken was to improve toilets in a school where there was only one working toilet for 400 students. Since the start of this programme, almost 150 projects have been completed. These have been funded by visiting international and local schools, as well as institutions from abroad. As of the end of 2016, the combined figure for all the projects was rapidly approaching US$750,000. In nearly all cases, visiting students from around the world have raised funds and then have come to contribute to the building work.
In some cases, a visiting school has focused on one particular local school during their annual visits. For example, over a 6 year period, West Island School from Hong Kong provided toilets, a canteen, library, nursery, school shop and a medical room to Hang Tum School. The help from West Island School was a great impetus for the school to take in initiatives of its own, adding to existing projects, improving the landscaping and developing a small farm. As a result of this joint effort, Hang Tum School has won awards for being one of the best equipped and best-kept schools in the North.
It is often the case that students have returned to the MRVR to teach in local schools during their holidays or on leaving school before moving onto university. This has encouraged us to offer short packages for Year 11s, 12s and 13s in their summer holidays, giving an opportunity to broaden horizons and become more independent – a valuable experience before applying for college. The MRVR has also become the Thailand base for Africa Asia Venture a UK gap company as well as offering our own longer stay gap opportunities to those wanting to come independently. We have also built accommodation for volunteer teachers in 4 schools including Thomas House. Accommodation comprises a bed-living room, own shower and toilet, cooking facilities and social area. Volunteers are expected to provide their own breakfast and evening meal (daily lunch is provided by the school) and keep the accommodation clean and tidy. There is no charge for this accommodation.
We have been fortunate that teachers from international schools have given their time and paid their transport costs (they are provided with free board and lodging) to conduct professional training for local staff. These workshops in English teaching, art, special needs support and I.T. have been very well received as these opportunities are not readily available for local staff. Visiting schools have also brought library specialists to set up and demonstrate how libraries can be places of more active learning.