Just like every year, the hot and humid weather in the summer of 2019 drives the temperature beyond 40 degree Celsius in many Thailand’s northern provinces. Unquestionably, cooling oneself down in a relaxing stream is a delight people usually seek. In Tham Lot sub-district, Pang Mapha district, Mae Hong Son province, youth joining World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT)’s Child Sponsorship Programme in Pang Mapha Project have worked with their parents and local villagers to build a check dam in Ban Hua Lang. The check dam does not only slow down the stream flow of the main community’s watercourse, Huai Chong Creek, to supply the community with water for use and consumption and mitigate drought disaster in the long run, but also offers a haven for the Tham Lot community members and people living nearby to take a relaxing dip in the refreshing water.
Ban Hua Lang Village is located in Ban Huai Haeng Community, Tham Lot sub-district, Pang Mapha district, Mae Hong Son province. It is one of many communities situated in the area where the Huai Chong Creek originates. The village constantly suffered from water shortage and the people were in much trouble.
“Because of the vast deforestation around the water source area, more water shortage was experienced. During summer, water from the mountain supply system was not sufficient. Despite the 10 sites of the community water storage, water was always extremely scarce, especially in April. We needed to ask a far-off village for a favour to use their water which we bring back in our containers. The villagers endured great hardships due to the water shortage,” Mr Somphong Khanthong, Ban Hua Lang Assistant Village Headman, talked about what happened every summer.
The establishment of the Community Development Youth Group, most of which members are WVFT’s sponsored children, has been supported to encourage the adolescents to do good deeds for the community’s sake. After the brainstorming and planning, the group has submitted a project proposal to WVFT for the support of community check dam construction. With concern for the well-being of all children and families and awareness of the pressing problem due to the lack of clean water, in order to promote good health and sufficient access to water for yearlong use and consumption for all children, WVFT has supported budget for the purchasing of materials and equipment to build the check dam along with a 3-day volunteer camp to mobilise youth power for the check dam construction. The camp included a training session to cultivate among students, youth, and villagers the sense of community engagement and volunteer spirits, as well as environment conservation and restoration, which is vital for human and animal living. With the power of youth and the reinforcement from the community adults, the construction of a 2.5-metre thick, 8-metre long check dam has successfully completed. It is located at the creek down the village and has been in service for over one year.
It is a pride of Duangdao and Ong, eighth-grade girls from Ratprachanukhro 34 School, as well as their peers in the Community Development Youth Group, which consists of 34 members who are students from grade 3 to grade 12, to be part of the check dam construction, which is one of community development activities regularly carried out by the youth group in these 2 consecutive years.
“I’d like to thank the sponsors and WVFT for the support for all the youth group’s activities, which give us opportunity to fully use our capacities to do something for the greater good and get involved in community development. We believe in the power of youth to do good deeds from our heart. Thank you so much,” Duangdao expressed her heartfelt thankfulness.
“In the past when there was no check dam we didn’t have water to use. My family was in great difficulties. Now we have the check dam, which brings lots of water. On weekends most of the villagers take advantage of it to cool down here. My friends and I like to play in the water under the supervision of the adults and the older kids from the WVFT youth group who know how to swim. They make sure we won’t be drowning.” Ong said with a big smile.
Mr Somkid Jaidee, WVFT’s Pang Mapha Project Staff, mentioned the benefits that children and villagers from more than 65 families get from the check dam; besides providing yearlong water for use and consumption, within only one year the check dam has promoted water absorption in the soil, built up underground water, and restored lush, abundant forests, which provide food sources such as fish and crabs for people in the community to complement their family meals. Plus, because of the check dam, seasonal vegetables, eg vegetable fern, have thrived, waiting to be picked and served with family favourite dishes. Not only creating self-sufficient well-being for the community, the check dam also provides the local people an oasis to cool down amidst the heated, sweaty weather.