At a glance, you would hardly know you were in a swank Bangkok neighborhood.
All you can see in front of you are rows and rows of corrugated tin shacks in a field of mud. Yet just beyond the shacks, just a few blocks away, the streets are full of posh condos and fancy restaurants.
What you’re seeing is a construction workers camp, filled with migrant families, mostly from Cambodia, who have come to Thailand to eek out a semi-nomadic living, moving from one construction site to another, wherever they can earn a modest day-wage.
During the day, most moms and dads here are working on nearby construction sites while a few grandmas look after the babies and toddlers. The older children are left to fill their days idly in their shacks or to wander and play in patches of deep rutted sludge. The children are not allowed off premise. This mud patch is their world, their entire universe.
Welcome to our newest construction camp school, located on Ekamai Road.
We call them Kindergartens, but that isn’t entirely accurate,
While kindergartens are generally for children ages three to seven, our construction camp schools are open to children of any age from toddlers to young teens. And our curriculum varies by the ages and needs of our students.
First and foremost, we want these children to learn to read and write, and in the process to ignite a lifetime love for learning. When the parents eventually and inevitably move to another construction site, we want their children to insist on going to school!
Equally important, our construction camp schools are safe havens. The world of a construction camp may be fraught with dangers, but when children enter our schools, they must know that nothing can hurt them.
Finally, we want our construction camp kids to develop like normal children everywhere. To this end, we make sure they have milk and fruit snacks and a healthy lunch every school day. We watch and measure their growth throughout the year. And we keep our eyes wide open for any tell-tail signs of problems at home or in the camp, especially regarding neglect and abuse.
As you can see below, our new school is humble. It’s just an “old fashioned” one-room schoolhouse. It keeps the rain out during the monsoon season. It let’s the air in every day. It’s a bright ray of sunshine, no matter how muddy it gets outdoors.
Our first class had ten students. The number of students will increase to twenty or more over time, but the quantity is not important. What’s important is that every poor child has a safe place to grow up, make friends, go to school, and have a chance in life.