In the wake of the 2004 Asian Tsunami, Palomar College faculty and staff assisted Thai national Sasha Bilar, collect toys to distribute to children in Thailand. With hundreds of pounds of toys and $700 in donations, Sasha and Judy Eberhart delivered the toys throughout the tsunami zone to children who were orphaned or abandoned in the disaster.
Bringing “toys to Thailand” began as a quest to give comfort to Thai children but the vision quickly expanded. T4T volunteers made a humanitarian trip to visit Tribal schools in Chiangmai and Mae Hong Son (2007) and there they witnessed hundreds of children living in horrible conditions, without adequate food, clothing, clean water or toilet facilities.
Over the past eight years, Toys for Thailand evolved from providing toys and basic need items to funding larger scale school projects to improve the living conditions of Tribal children in Northern Thailand. T4T volunteers have purchased and delivered resources to over 30 hill tribe schools in Mae Hong Son and Chiangmai.
With extensive support from Toys for Thailand, Romklawpantaong (King’s) School in Maehongson was honored to receive the Dream School Award (2011) by the Thai Government. The King’s School, a residential school that houses 260 children representing 6 different Hill Tribes is now a model for other school programs. Our goal is to support Huay Pooling, a remote Tribal school with strong leadership and support from local villagers, so that the school may one day achieve Dream School status.
As a way to celebrate and honor hill tribe culture and provide a fundraising venue for the Tribal schools, Toys for Thailand initiated the first annual Small World Festival (SWF) in 2010. Small World is free public event held annually on December 24th in downtown Mae Hong Son. This amazing festival brings together hundreds of hill tribe children and their teachers from schools in Mae Hong Son. The festival celebrates Hill Tribal cultural traditions and schools market and sell their handicraft and agricultural products.
As we look to the future, our work will continue to fund sustainable projects, shaped by self determined needs of the individual schools and the skills and interests of the school administrators, teachers and students.