28th Feb 2019
Back in 2010 Stuart, and an extended team of Barr Group adventurers, headed to the Thai / Myanmar (Burmese) border to help build infrastructure for The Baan Unrak Children’s Home there. Reeling from many years of civil war and an unprecedented refugee crisis, the Sangkhlaburi area was then, and remains, desperately in need of help from the outside world. Most of the people in the area are members of the Mon and Karen ethnic groups who have escaped across the border into Thailand. The original Barr Group team built the boys dormitory at Baan Unrak and two years later returned to secure the perimeter border – providing the children with a safe enclave to live learn and play.
Last month, a new and rejuvenated Barr Group team returned to the same area, this time to the nearby Huaymulai Children's Home, to build much-needed infrastructure. The home was founded by the amazing Paw Lu lu and her husband Nandoe (refugees themselves who have dedicated their lives to helping those fleeing the conflict). Paw Lu lu is well known as an advocate for women’s and ethnic minority rights. The home is supported by, amongst others, the small UK based Kvell Project. Please do get in touch if you would like to know more or think you could help.
Huaymulai is home to more than thirty children, as well as staff members and their immediate families. It is a structure built from the ground up and over the years has been extended upon to accommodate it's growing ’family’. With their own intuition and skills, the staff have worked to accommodate everyone and make their living environment as comfortable as possible, but, as with all buildings, disrepair and increasing demands on the space are a continuing issue. In the long term, sustainable remodelling of the children's home is required in order to maximise space and provide a basic level of comfort.
As part of that project, an extended Barr Group team headed out to build a kitchen extension, which will help the home’s support workers cater to Huaymulai’s ever-growing number of inhabitants! With only 5 days to complete the build, the team had a massive task on their hands. They had access to basic building materials and tools, and the team, who have various levels of experience, made the best use of their time and skills mix to get stuck in and complete the task in hand.
After a hot and busy day’s build, the team headed over to visit Baan Unrak, where the Barr Group had worked previously. They were greeted with great affection by the 130 children and staff - many of whom remembered the team’s first visits. They were treated to a special performance from the children - not an unhugged team member or a dry eye in sight!
The team are already setting themselves goals for projects they plan to tackle on their return trip to the Huaymulai Children's Home in 2020.