Guest contributor, Dr. Ron Baker, takes us inside his recent experience at the 10 year anniversary of the Small World Festival. The Toys for Thailand (T4T) co-hosted 10th annual Small World Festival took place on December 24, 2019 in downtown Mae Hong Son, Thailand.
One of the reasons we have been traveling all these years to Thailand is to support the work of our favorite charity, Toys for Thailand, and to participate in the annual Small World Festival. What started 10 years ago with a small group of schools has now grown to 68 regional schools coming together in one place for a day of cross-cultural exchange. Many of the schools in Northern Thailand have students from a variety of tribes many of whom have not interacted with many other school kids in the region. Some students travel 4-5 hours to Mae Hong Son and sleep in the local temple. All of the students are fed, participate in educational activities during the day, and at night a few group are selected to dance in their tribal clothing.
At sunset, with fireworks bursting in the air, the festival started in a beautiful location. Local Thai teachers, school directors and friends created this lovely environment for all to enjoy.
One of the hallmarks of our participation is to support the kids. Here the T4T crew and city dignitaries are distributing scholarships from several T4T donors, which help kids to buy sport shoes, school uniforms, school supplies etc. that are not provided by school funds. T4T supports many more projects each year, but only a few are highlighted at the festival. This year 3 students from each school received a scholarship based on their school director’s recommendation.
This year as a result of a generous donation, soccer balls were also distributed to the schools.
Blankets were also donated by several T4T donors. This year, with some unusually cold weather, students who stay/sleep at the residential schools put these blankets to good use.
Once the speeches and presentations were over, the real fun began with dancing. Here are a few cute shots of the participants.
Notice all of the different head coverings and costumes. Quite a show from all of the different tribes that were represented.
As you can see from these photos, this experience is very rewarding and brings together a wonderful group of international volunteer, local teachers/school directors, and, of course, wonderful kids who’s lives are enhanced from these gifts of time, talent and money.
Click below if you would like to help tribal students benefiting from Toys for Thailand projects in the Mae Hong Son Province.