I remember Boxing Day 2004 like it was yesterday. I was standing in the kitchen with my mum banging on about my brandy and cinnamon panacotta (as I am prone to do) and debating whether I’d drive into town for the Boxing Day sales. And then I remember glancing over at the TV and finding out about the tsunami that hit Thailand. I will never forget the news footage. Entire Thai villages being swept away like sandcastles at high tide. People clinging to telegraph poles. And roof tops. And the children. All those children that suddenly became orphans. Thats what I remember most of all. Everybody talking about the thousands of Thai children who had suddenly become orphaned. In real life losing your parents is less Harry-Potter-exciting and more unspeakable tragedy.
Six years on, those children still need our help. So for this month’s First Wednesday Club I’ve chosen an Australian charity that is doing just that – continuing to help all those orphaned kids in Thailand.
Peter Baines was working in Forensics with the NSW police force when the Tsunami hit and was part of the team despatched to Thailand to help identify bodies. Once there, Peter was confronted with the shocking reality that vast numbers of Thai children had not only lost both their parents but also their extended families. With their homes and villages also completely destroyed countless small children were living in tents, left to fend for themselves. So Peter, together with UK policewoman Gil Williams, set up a charity – Hands Across The Water (Hands).
To date, Hands has built two orphanages and a community sports field in the badly damaged Baan Nam Khem region of Phuket. They’ve purchased trucks, cars and motorbikes so the kids can get to school, are running sponsorship and scholarship programs to fund the kids’ education and fund a full time nurse who works at the orphanages.
In a significant step towards self-sustainability Hands has also established a rubber plantation and fish farm that, once mature, will generate an income for many years to come.
In 2011 Hands opened a medical and community centre in Baan Nam Khem at a cost of over AUD $1 million. Meanwhile Peter has just returned from Kanchanaburi where he has committed support to an orphanage for children who have been rescued from the sex industry and who have been physically abused. From now on, donations to Hands will also go to providing these children with medical attention, food, and and education.
So can your ten dollars really make a difference? Yes it can. According to Peter, just ten dollars can pay for twelve weeks of school for one of these children. That’s the price of three cups of coffee.
You’ll be pleased to know that every cent donated goes directly to improving the lives of the children at the orphanages. Not one cent is spent on administration and there are no political or religious ties. Any costs incurred in running the charity are personally absorbed by Peter and other board members.
So it’s time to hand over your moula. Click here and donate. Your $10 can make a difference. If you’re interested you can also buy Peter’s book, Hands Across The Water: celebrating the children of the tsunami.
Do you remember what you were doing on Boxing Day 2004?