Asian Studies Outreach Program
How One Ton of Rice is Making a Difference
ASOP Director leads funding drive to provide rice to Thai orphan
- By Jacqueline Drouin
While coordinating the 2012 Institute on Thailand and Its Cultures, a 3-week graduate course for Vermont educators in Thailand, Director Bill Williams asked Mr. Pipat, an administrator at Montfort Primary School in Thailand, if Montfort could arrange a school visit to a government school in rural Thailand. For the last six years, Montfort has hosted ASOP's overseas programs in Chiang Mai, and having worked with the Asian Studies Outreach Program for many years, Mr. Pipat, recommended that instead of a government school, the group of Vermont educators to visit the Chalempraklet 48 Pansa School in Lamphun.
"This is a school for young girls 1-18 years of age. They are orphans and many had their parents die from HIV/Aids. It houses about 350 girls which are taught and protected there.” Explained Master Pipat. Bill Williams agreed to the change in itinerary, knowing that the visit to the school would have a profound impact on Vermont educators. In lieu of traditional gifts, the teachers brought funds to buy supplies for the students.
In a recent trip to Chiang Mai, Bill decided to stop by the school again and speak with the director of the Chalempraklet 48 Pansa School. During this visit, Bill was able to spend more time with the students and teachers, and see how hard each was working to imporve their life's condition.
"Once the director realized that he and I had many mutual friends in Thailand, that allowed him to open up and share some interesting details with me. He let us know that the due to the economic crisis in Europe, the school had lost one of its major funders. The biggest need at the school became rice." Upon return to Vermont, Bill called upon his family, friends, and teachers who had visited the school and let them know the need for rice. Teachers were quick to respond and to meet the goal of raising enough money for one ton of rice. With the help of Mr. Pipat, Sriwimon Wongchomphu, former visiting scholar to UVM's Asian Studies Outreach Program, and the support of Montfort Primary School, rice was found from a local seller and Montfort Primary delivered the rice.
“I have stayed in contact with one young girl who I met during my time at this school. She has become very close to my heart and I welcome an opportunity to support her and the school with a basic need.” Responded Melissa Sargent-Minor, participant of the 2012 Thailand program. Funds raised have since been sent to Thailand, and with the help of many connections, have provided the students with one ton of rice.
The Asian Studies Outreach Program is funded by the Freeman Foundation. All fundraising efforts for the Chalempraklet 48 Pansa School in Lamphun are separate. For information on how you can help the school, view their brochure (part A and part B) or contact Bill Williams.