This blog connects no dig gardening, tea and cake, a Thai orphanage and a kind gift from Walton’s Garden Buildings .
(Waltons have featured my blog several times on their site).
Every September we have an open day at Homeacres, Charles’ no dig garden. Admission is free and we offer refreshments for donations, which go to charity.
A few days before, some of the compost heap bays are cleared out to make a ‘book shop’. Here, Charles’ brother Oliver is setting up his apple juice and cider stall.
(Photo pinched from Charles’ Facebook page – we were so busy we forgot to take many photos!)
This year, the charities benefitting from the donations were Charles’ choice: Send A Cow
And the House of Hope orphanage in Doi Saket, Northern Thailand – my choice. Here are the children with some of their regular teachers, volunteers and Sarah (on the left, blue t shirt) who came to Thailand to work in Bangkok over 50 years ago for 2 years and loved it so much she has remained ever since. She has been very instrumental in organising all of the non-Thai residents in the area to help local projects.
Notice the open sides to the classroom!
On Saturday I spent the whole day baking. It was torture for my sons, who could smell all of the delicious baking yet couldn’t come and tuck in (they did get some when I was finished). We also had some gorgeous baked donations from our visitors and fantastic help from friends who served the refreshments all day.
A few weeks before, Waltons had kindly sent me two beautiful scarecrows. I knew they were just the thing to help us let people know who we were raising money for, and to look after the donations bucket.
Although it was a rather wet day, we had loads of visitors and a great time. The compost bays make fantastic shelters!
Thanks to Julie Bowyer for these photos of the event – the little girl is her granddaughter, Eliza
The scarecrows are lovely, really well made, so cheerful to look and very popular with our young visitors. I knew that after helping us raise money for children in Thailand and Africa, it would be great if they continue to be enjoyed by children. So once term started, I took the scarecrows to their new home – the local primary school in Bruton. The children have a gardening club there, so this jolly pair will help inspire a new generation of gardeners!
We raised £450 – so £225 for each charity. I changed mine into Thai Baht – with the addition of a few pounds, that came to 10,000 baht for the orphanage.
I got to know about the orphans and meet them via my dad, who along with Sarah and other members of the community help to support the children. As well as raising money for their education and welfare, Dad arranges events at his house for the children and also during the holiday the older ones are given paid work in his garden. Whilst I was visiting Dad tasks included rescuing fish from a pond with a broken filter and gardening. All of the work is overseen by Arnold, who has amazing skills for just about everything and is a great mentor for the children.
They also regularly visit Dad’s pool for swimming lessons and fun – and enjoy arts and crafts activities.
A big favourite is the Christmas party, again at dad’s house. Arnold is Santa!
Whilst I was visiting, Sarah, Lee and myself helped to make Christmas cards using hand cut motifs made by the children. I especially loved the festive bugs. With the terrible decline of insects, it was lovely to see how appreciated they are by these children, so much so they want them on their festive cards.
Much of the money raised helps to pay for their education. Most of the children will go into different kinds of work after school, but some are able to go to university too.
When I arrived at the orphanage, some of the children were practising their dance routines for the Christmas party, using you tube. After chatting for a while, the children sang us some songs, as a thank you. The dogs also wanted to be part of things.
Some of the older children were taught how to make key rings and fridge magnets by a Japanese volunteer, to sell to raise funds for the orphanage. These children are certainly enterprising. I’ve got some to bring home; I’m sure they’ll be very popular.
Some of the children waving goodbye (that’s my dad, heading back to his car). Visiting here really helps to put things in perspective. The buildings are basic, a little shabby and in places needing repair (this is being sorted now) yet the children are so upbeat, welcoming and supportive of each other.
Now I am finishing my last chilled Chang beer of this trip to Thailand, before getting the taxi to the airport for my long trip home.