Happier Mealtimes in Thailand
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Happier Mealtimes in Thailand

Our Bangkok associates improved a school's dining conditions during a day of community service

Kanchanaburi Province, situated about 200 miles west of the Thai capital of Bangkok, is best known as the location of the infamous "Bridge on the River Kwai"—but it's also home to the Pu Ong Ka Primary School, which Grand Circle Foundation has been supporting since 2004. Of the 220 students who attend classes here, around 70% are from the Mon ethnic tribe, whose families emigrated from the Thai-Burmese border. These families earn meager wages farming for a living, and are well below the economic standards of the rest of the country.

Since we began our partnership, Grand Circle Foundation has supported the Pu Ong Ka Primary School with donations of more than $12,000, which have helped purchase computers, employ an English teacher, plant an organic farm, and more. Yet there is still a great deal to be done—which is why our team in Thailand chose the Pu Ong Ka Primary School as the location of their annual community service event this past August.

According to Regional General Manager Ton Rerkdee, the team had concerns about the condition of the school kitchen, which could not be repaired without a lengthy approval process for funds from the provincial education office. "The teachers help each other to cook for 220 students each day with very poor kitchen equipment," says Ton. "Therefore, all Grand Circle associates in Bangkok decided to help improve the quality and hygiene of the kitchen and dining area."

The team of 38 associates divided into two groups. The first group focused on the kitchen and dining area, installing a wastewater treatment tank and setting up newly donated tables, chairs, and shelves. The second group did some general maintenance on the school grounds, mowing the grass and removing weeds from the farm and garden areas. Then, everyone gathered together for an afternoon of fun and games on the school's soccer field—featuring a new air rocket flyer that the team purchased for a fun lesson in science class.

The school principal, Mrs. Arom Timon, expressed her appreciation to the volunteers, and to Grand Circle Foundation. "On behalf of all teachers and students, I would like to thank you for the continual support given to our school," she said. "Our students have been given so many more opportunities for their education, and now, with your support to improve the quality of the kitchen, we are able to provide a more hygienic atmosphere for our students without waiting for approval from the provincial education office."

At the end of a long but rewarding day, the team took some time to reflect upon what they'd accomplished together. "I felt that being a part of this community service event wasn't just about changing lives in Pu Ong Ka. Moreover, we're helping to create a better world," says Ned Panyasattho, who works in the Air department. "It was also an opportunity to get to know my colleagues." Operations Manager Jaye Sappattarabune agrees. "With full participation from associates, students, teachers, and villages, all tasks were accomplished with joy and a lot of fun. This community service event has helped make our Thailand team even stronger, and we look forward to next year's event already."

Featured in our October 2011 E-Newsletter. Read the full issue here.