generalinfo

What we're all about...

Moo Baan Dek is one project under The Foundation for Children.
It is
a registered nonprofit Thai organization. It is non denominational, non
governmental and funded 100% through donations. Children here are provided
with free education and accommodation. The costs are covered by donations
from within Thailand and abroad through various programs of giving and sponsorship.
Funds for building construction are mostly from individuals and organizations in
Japan, Canada, United States, France and Thailand. Moo Baan Dek does not receive
any government funding. The students are from poor and/or abusive family backgrounds.
Their families live under the poverty line set by the United Nations, and are not able to provide a healthy environment in which the children will be able to grow to
their full potential. The atmosphere and the educational curriculum here are
designed with consideration of the children's distinctive backgrounds. It is
believed that by setting a natural environment equipped with loving kindness,
forgiveness,freedom, sympathy, and encouragement, the children's emotional stresses and behavioral deviations can be healed. Children's basic needs are also guaranteed. This helps them feel more secure, and able to effectively mature.
When first admitted into the school, the children are allowed to work on their
emotional stresses and their repressed feelings resulting from their harsh
living conditions in their earliest years. By giving them a chance to naturally
express themselves, the children will be able to adapt themselves in a new
society with a growing healthy personality regardless of the previous cultural
values imposed on them.

WHAT IS MOO BAAN DEK?

Moo Baan Dek (translated as Children's Village) is an alternative living
community. Through love, nature and freedom Moo Baan Dek strives to nourish
the damaged souls of abused, orphaned and underprivileged children. Not only are
our children offered free education, food and accommodation, but also they are
taught to love themselves, their culture and the land on which they live. Our aim
is to instill these children, often from the most difficult of backgrounds, with confidence
and skills, which will allow them to be self-sufficient and positive members of
society. Thus we hope to break the vicious circle of poverty in which these
children are trapped.

Registered with the Ministry of Education, the school provides education from kindergarten
through to sixth grade for orphans and children from poor or broken families as young as three years old. After sixth grade, children are encouraged and supported to further their high school education with the Informal Education Program of the Ministry of Education which makes them eligible to take the entrance examination to study in universities. Apart from this, under the Latya Garden Home Project, the children are also provided with vocational and artistic workshops, i.e. ceramic molding, batik and dressmaking, weaving, electronics, etc.

At Moo Baan Dek, nature is our classroom. Learning is not only confined to the
classroom, but takes place at every corner of our natural school. Although the
children are taught standard academic courses, our focus is to educate them in
areas that will allow them feed themselves and their families. The school is
equipped with various vocational workshops where the children can work on their
skills. Every afternoon the children can be found fine-tuning their skills in
electrical work, woodwork, ceramic, batik, weaving, or sewing. Whether it be
through academics, vocational skills or the arts, we aim to create members of
society who have the motivation to work hard, complete tasks and support
themselves.

The school's underlying philosophy is built around the concept of A.S Neills
Summerhill School in England. Elements of Buddhism and Natural Farming
were later incorporated and more recently Montessori has been adapted
into the Kindergarden. The heart of Moo Baan Dek's philosophy is that
all children are born into the world with an innate goodness which is deviated
as a result of poor living environments. Thus, behavioral problems are not
incurable and can be healed when surrounded in a healthy, loving and free
environment. The environment at Moo Baan Dek is arranged in such a way
that children from troubled situations can ease their suffering and begin to
return to their original state of goodness. A major emphasis is given towards
creating a living atmosphere that nurtures the spirit and the creativity of
children.

An important aspect of the Moo Baan Dek community is that of freedom and self
government. With the freedom to govern their own lives, the children are
prompted to think, problem solve, make choices, discover meaning in their lives
and come to attain self understanding. The children at Moo Baan Dek are free
to live how they chose. They are not forced to go to class, to the farm, to
meetings; it is their choice. Given this responsibility, and given the confidence to
make good choices, the majority of students participate. Teachers do not play a
dominant role at Moo Baan Dek. Everyone is an equal here. The role of the teachers
is to share their knowledge, increase learning motivation and to assist the children
in their chosen areas of study. This system of freedom creates a wonderful
learning environment. It motivates the teachers to create interesting and fun
classes so the children will attend. As well, the classes are filled only with children
who want to be there, thus creating a good learning atmosphere.

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WHERE IS MOO BAAN DEK?

Founded in 1979, Moo Baan Dek, or Children's Village School was located on Kwae Noi River (the River Kwai); Tasao Sub-district, Sai Yoke District, Kanchanaburi. It moved to the present location on the bank of Kwae Yai River, Wangdong Sub-district, Muang, Kanchanaburi in the 1985. The 80 acres (app. 32 ha) of land was donated by Chinda Iam-Chamriang Foundation, and the construction of initial buildings was funded by Foundation for Children.

Today, Moo Baan Dek is situated in the beautiful lush forest of Kanchanaburi province. It
is bordered by the famous River Kwae and the misty rolling hills which fall along the
Thai-Mynamar border. The closest village is Kanchanaburi. Kanchanaburi is about 3
hours from Bangkok and about 45 minutes from MBD.

Moo Baan Dek, Latya-Srisawat Rd., Kanchanaburi 71190 Siam (Thailand)
Tel. Tel. +669-9183269-70, Fax +662-8140369 email: mbd@ffc.or.th

Click here for larger map

Click here for larger map

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WHEN WAS MOO BAAN DEK FOUNDED?

Moo Baan Dek was started in 1978 as an experiment to prove that education, which
allows for the freedom of the students, is possible and successful.

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WHY WAS MOO BAAN DEK STARTED?

In order to demonstrate that education, which allows freedom for students, is possible, a site was chosen in 1978 and the construction of buildings began the following year. The first group of children who came here was from the direst poverty, the well-known slum area in Bangkok, Klongtoey. Raised within a violent prevailing environment and scarcities, many of the children had become very aggressive. At Moo Baan Dek, however, with simple facilities and enough food, they were assured that their basic needs would be seen to, and were encouraged to achieve their full potential with no use of authority.

In the beginning, it was hard to convince the general public that there were fatal flaws in the existing educational system. The rote learning, the use of authority, the dominant role of teacher, the hard and physically painful punishment, etc., were all taken for granted. In addition, since westernization has taken place in this country more than a century ago, education has been geared towards training, and equipping the population with occupational skills to serve the government, and increasingly the private sector at present. The ideal of Moo Baan Dek's founder was to create a learning community in which children and adults live on an equal basis. And the ultimate purpose was to enable the children to fully understand themselves, to uncover the meaning of their lives, through freedom and self-government. All these efforts sounded peculiar in those days.

Apart from support provided by a few individuals who understood the cause, it was very hard for Moo Baan Dek to raise funds from the public. It was difficult as well to convince the public and the government that the situation regarding the rights of children was very vulnerable. As the country grew economically, there was a huge influx of rural immigrants to the cities, and there they found their lives and that of their children more miserable. Slums sprang up in every corner of the cities, and bred the underage with all sorts of harshness, crime and violence. Therefore, in 1979, Moo Baan Dek with two other projects, namely, the Art Center for Youth and Baan Tantawan (rehabilitation center for malnourished children) have formed together an umbrella organization, the Foundation for Children, in order to facilitate fund raising efforts, and also to expand more work in the area of child rights and child education.

In the last two decades, Moo Baan Dek has been standing as the first living ideal of Thai education that seeks to truly nourish children. It has inspired many contemporary educators, and its emphasis on alternative education has led to the amendment of the present draft of the National Education Bill to allow alternative education to take place.

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HOW IS MOO BAAN DEK SUPPORTED?

Moo Baan Dek runs solely on donations. At the beginning it was very difficult to
raise money for the project. It was hard to convince the people that the existing
educational system had fatal flaws. The rote learning, the use of authority, the
physical punishment were all understood as the norm. As well, as westernization
has taken place in Thailand education has been more and more aimed at training
and equipping the population with skills to serve the government. As Moo Baan Dek
was moving away from this westernization, and towards traditional training such
as farming and craft work, much of the general public did not understand the
motives behind the project. Apart from very few individuals who understood the
cause, it was very hard for MBD to raise sufficient funding. Moo Baan Dek teamed
up with two similar projects, Baan Tantawan and the Art Center For Youth to form
an umbrella organization,

Now, after 23 years of success, raising funds has become a little easier. We have
many programs set up which allow people to help the kids at Moo Baan Dek. From
feeding the students for a meal, treating them with a bucket of ice-cream, building
new buildings, sending school supplies- there are many opportunities to reach out!
Donations can be made through THE FOUNDATION FOR CHILDREN.

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WHO ARE THE founders? students? staff? OF MOO BAAN DEK

FOUNDERS-

Moo Baan Dek was founded by Mr. Pibhop Dongchai and his wife Khun Rajani. They
were both teachers at government schools before they began to build Moo Baan Dek.
Pibhop was editor of Pacarayasara and an activist. His publications criticized
mainstream education. He is currently the secretary of THE FOUNDATION FOR CHILDREN.
Khun Rajani is the principle of Moo Baan Dek, she is "mom" to all the children there.
The amount of patience, love, respect and trust which she gives the kids is incredible.
The respect she receives in turn is also remarkable. Her mission is to make society a
better place for the children of the world,and towards this goal she works daily.
She is an amazingly busy woman. Sitting on many educational reform boards, giving
lectures about alternative education, advising homeschoolers, trying to rewrite the
standard curriculum, meetings here there and everywhere, all on top of mothering 150
children!

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STUDENTS

The students are from poor and/or abusive family backgrounds. Their families live under the poverty line set by the United Nations, and are not able to provide a healthy environment in which the children will be able to grow to their full potential.

Children adopted at Moo Baan Dek classified by Reasons of Support

(as of 1999)

Abuse
29

Abandonment
25

Broken home
60

Homelessness (runaway)
16

Orphanage
28

Total
162

Children adopted at Moo Baan Dek classified by Types of Education

(as of 1999)


Elementary level at Children's Village School)
117

Elementary level with the Non-formal Education Program
4

Secondary level at a conventional school
13

Secondary level with the Non-formal Education Program
4

State vocational training center
2

Undergraduate level
5

Total
145
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STAFF-

There are about 20 full-time staff at Moo Baan Dek. About half are teachers, and the rest work as social workers, administrative staff, accounts, etc. We have volunteers from time to time to teach, and to organize additional activities for children. up

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COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS-

How do these children end up here and why?

There is no welfare system for assisting very poor families in raising their children in Thailand, nothing for schooling or medical needs. Often the burden is too great for poor families, sometime a single parent is trying to raise a child, and just can't make ends meet.

The philosophy is very different here than at a state orphanage. If a parent makes the decision that they can no longer raise a child themselves, state social workers sometimes offer MBD as an alternative to a state orphanage. At MBD, a child's natural development and freedom are taken into consideration, and they are allowed to learn at their own pace. They are also exposed to a system of making decisions and implementing justice that involves the whole community.

At MBD, the child is given the chance to heal wounds from what often was a very traumatic early childhood, extreme poverty, sometimes physical or sexual abuse, very few choices, a lot of suffering,

What are the biggest expenses for the school community?

The food, the shelter, and the salaries for the staff.

Where does the money come from?

We rely on charitable contributions. Eighty percent of our funding comes from Thai citizens or companions, while twenty percent comes from international sources, mostly Japan and France. However, since the depreciation of the Thai Baht in July of 1997, the domestic contributions have substantially dropped.

Why don't you get money from the government?

Our philosophies are not the same as the government's. If we accept their money, we have to follow their rules.

MBD provides education for children from the first to sixth grade, what happens to older kids?

Children who have completed the sixth grade can go on for further education at the state-sponsored weekend school program. During the week, they have various jobs here, for which they are paid a salary which is put into their bank accounts. However much money they make, that amount is matched by the school. This is their fund for their education, for tuition, transportation, lunch near the school, books, school supplies, etc.

The system of addressing wrongdoing in the community through the use of a school council is admirable, but can children raised in this kind of community ever adjust to the injustices of the outside world?

There are two answers to this question. Firstly, humans are social animals, therefore they can naturally adjust to their present environment. However, we don't want them to change their ways totally. For example, take on the values of a very consumerism-oriented society, and they usually don't because they have been raised to be independent thinkers.

Secondly, they do suffer frustration, usually in the first three months of leaving Moo Baan Dek. And the problems usually arise with authority figures, not with equals, and especially for the teenage girls, they find it hard to adjust to the level of gossip and back stabbing that goes on. They are used to a little gossip, but on the whole, they are used to dealing with situations in a much more straightforward manner. When a student first leaves to do a work internship, one of our social workers will keep in contact with the student and the employer, to see how things are going.

ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION-

To the promote and investigate alternative education, Moo Baan Dek has been visited by a number of individuals and organizations from within and outside the country. Students from Japan come every year to live with children at Moo Baan Dek for a week or so and mutually learn from each other. In 1998, there were nearly 300 foreign visitors at Moo Baan Dek.

In order to campaign for the inclusion of alternative education in the draft of the National Education Bill, which is being read in the House of Parliament, Moo Baan Dek has formed the People's Council on Education, a coalition of homeschoolers, and those interested or involved in alternative education. The Council has organized seminars and discussions to raise awareness of alternative education among the public.

The former National Education Bill stated that every child has to attend school, and this had prevented homeschooling from taking place. It did not recognize also the importance of having alternative education. What was more worrisome is that educational curriculum has been increasingly designed to equip students with skills that serve the corporate, and that drive further the mechanisms of consumerism, rather than knowledge that helps them to understand the meaning of their life.

Through the People's Council on Education, Moo Baan Dek is taking part in shaping the education that embraces diversity of children, and that is ultimately aimed at assisting each child to become a sensible and responsible citizen of the world.

Our Network of Alternative Education-

In an attempt to expand the ideas and facilities of alternative education, Moo Baan Dek has initiated a project to provide funds and advice to small projects that adopt disadvantaged children for education. The operators of each project are free to choose the kind of education they see fit for the children. An emphasis is of course given to alternative education in which children find the opportunity to fully express themselves and to grow holistically.

1. Baan Huay Mai Hang School Project
2. Baan Saun Dek (Children's Garden Home)
3. Pu Takian Child Center
4. Baan Tor Fun (Dream Weaving Home)
5. Mae Moon Munyuen Center (Playon Kindergarten and the Elementary
6. Baan Saan Fun (Education for Peace)
7. Baan Soblarn Day-care Center and Kindergarten
8. Rasisalai Community
9. The Spirit in Education Movement (SEM)
10. Lang Muang Community


1. Baan Huay Mai Hang School Project: 40 poor and tribal children

Ethnic Karen Ampure Maesod, Tak provice: These tribal people still live with their indigenous culture, language, traditional dress, and pattern of life. Attempts were made in securing and improving their agricultural livelihood to prevent an exodus. Because they have adequate food to eat and forest to live, and understand Thai well enough. Then we consider how to prepare these children well so that they will not be easily trapped by the city life style as more and more city folks come visit them.

Tribal children under the program 40
Volunteer 1
Full time staff 4

2. Baan Saun Dek (Children's Garden Home), Baan Tamafaiwan, Kankraw district, Chaiyapum: 7 poor children

Based on Buddhist tenets, the school is an attempt to create a healthy community for children where they are given love and care. There, they learn how to live close to nature, and to improve their self-organization. The activities include natural farming, batik making, and other vocational training, as well as the practice of meditation. At present, there are eight children from Moo Baan Dek living at Baan Suan Dek.

3. Pu Takian Child Center: 15 poor children

This program has been initiated by a nun who was interested in implementing the idea of Buddhism in taking care of disadvantaged children. There are currently 15 children under this program based in a monastery, Wat Pu Takian, Saiyok district, Kanchanaburi. With love and care of nuns and monks in the center, the children have been progressively developing.

4. Baan Tor Fun (Dream Weaving Home), Tambol Nonglu, Sangklaburi District, Kanchanaburi: 25 poor and ethnic children

It gives an emphasis on friendly relationships and interdependence among human being and between human being and the environment. Most children here are ethnic minorities along the Thai-Burmese border. The activities for students include the practice of natural farming and meditation. Of the current 15 children at Baan Tor Fun, one came from Moo Baan Dek. All of them attend a nearby primary school for academic study. At Baan Tor Fun, they live like a self-dependent community, and practice natural farming.

5. Mae Moon Munyuen Center (Playon Kindergarten and the Elementary School): 65 poor children

The Mae Moon Munyuen village is located in Ampure Kongjiem, Ubolratchatanee province. There are 65 children aged from 2 to 15 years old. In order to help set up a school there, we have trained four teachers from the area in our Montessori courses held in November last year at the Children's Village School. Every 3 months the school sent teachers and assistants to give advice for the new local staff. We believe that teachers and children should come from the same community if we would like to provide the education as a process of strengthening the community.

At the moment, of 65 students, 35 are in kindergarten level and 30 in elementary level. They are siblings of the village folks, whose agrarian livelihood has been destroyed by the construction of large dam (Pak Moon Dam). About 1,000 families have set up their village to live together at the dam site since 1998. To learn about their suffering and background, please visit the homepage of International River Network.

Therefore, Moo Baan Dek -- Foundation for Children helps them in securing educational facilities and manpower. We began from helping with the kindergarten, and after two years the number of students has expanded to cover elementary school. Many of these students have been treated badly by teachers in local public schools, as they belong to the parents who fought against the government. Last year, the government authority (Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand) has instructed gang men to burn down all properties in the village, including the school buildings. Therefore, we are badly in need for funding for reconstructing the buildings.

Daily schedule for kindergarten students

8.30 preparation, yoga, prayers
9.00 games, singing
9.30 manipulation of Montessori material
11.30 storytelling, group activities
12.00 lunch
13.00 meditation
13.10 free time/ bedtime

Daily schedule for elementary school students

8.30 preparation, yoga, meditation
9.00-12.00 class (voluntary)
12.00 lunch
13.00 Community study / practice recording, observing
16.00 school end

6. Baan Saan Fun (Education for Peace): 20 poor and tribal children

Objectives
* To be center for the promotion of education among poor hill tribal children in remote areas.
* To instill love in their local cultures and traditions so that they do not move out.
* To install peacefulness among youth, and so that they are willing to help contribute to local environmental conservation.
* To impart academic education and skill training among poor children.

Target groups: 20 poor children aged from 7-12 years in adjacent neighborhoods of different tribes including Karen, Mong, Leesor and Moosur in seven provinces including Chiangmai, Chiangrai, Prae, Nan, Payao, Lampoon, and Lampang in the academic year of 2001 (starts in June).

Activities
* Provide sufficient basic necessities.
* Support children through their elementary and secondary education at Ngew Thao School, two kilometers from the project office.
* Provide supplementary education on vacations and holidays including sustainable agriculture, skill training, and arts.
* Provide supplementary education on traditional subjects on vacations and holidays including local culture and wisdom, environmental conservation, and traditional music.

7. Baan Soblarn Day-care Center and Kindergarten: 35 tribal children

A community of poor Karen in a very remote place with difficult access to schools. We plan to make possible a day-care center and kindergarten.

Baan Soblarn is a small community of 15 households, and located in Samerng district, Chiangmai. Local leaderships share the concern that their children have been educated in modern public schools and began to loose their self-respect in their local cultures and traditions. Some dare not speak their own dialect anymore. Also, many children in the village do not have access to public education, as the school is too far away. Therefore, a need is felt for creating a community education center with the aim to concoct educational curriculum, which suits local needs of the parents and the students. In 2000, a group of village folks have traveled extensively to survey the threads of culture, traditions and needs of the Karen tribes, who live along the Thai-Burmese border from North to South for nearly 400 kilometer stretch. They have come up with a curriculum based on the rich diversity of culture of the Karen tribes.

8. Rasisalai Community: 40 poor children

Assistance shall be given to the needy children belonging to the families which have been affected by the construction of the Rasisalkai Dam in Sri Saket. A small day-care center will be set up.

9. The Spirit in Education Movement (SEM)

SEM was founded by 1995 Right Livelihood Award recipient, Sulak Sivaraksa, as an alternative to mainstream education. It provides the general public with courses on Buddhism and mediation, community building, deep ecology, green politics, etc. Thus, for higher education, Moo Baan Dek cooperates with Spirit in Education Movement (SEM) to provide an undergraduate education which helps the learners to love nature, the environment, oneself and others, and to contribute to society in which they live. This kind of education is aimed at helping children as well as staff to live their lives more meaningfully and to instill confidence to withstand consumerism.

10. Lang Muang Community: 130 poor and tribal children

The community houses two ancient ethnic groups namely Karen and Black Moosur in three villages. The population is 386 with 69 households, and 130 children and youth. They have been relocated from their habitats in the forest, after the Royal Forestry Department had expanded the territory of the Forest National Park. This happened despite the fact that they had been living in the area since ancient time. At present, they live near the urban area, but without access to health and educational services.

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