“Doing Good Deeds, Building Discipline, and Focusing on Schooling” was the policy raised in the campaign run by “Cake”, or Sirilak, a 7th grade sponsored girl in Child Sponsorship Programme of World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT) in Mae Taeng Development Area, Chiang Mai province, which made her elected Little Chief Executive of SAO (Sub-district Administration Organisation) of her school last academic year. “Cake,” one of many children from vulnerable families supported by the Child Sponsorship Programme, has been sponsored since she was in grade 4.
“I won with 86% of votes. The work which I took pride in throughout the previous year when I took the position of the Little Chief Executive of SAO was to lead younger students to do good deeds, build discipline, and picking up trash to make the school more pleasant,” Cake said in a cheerful voice about her roles as a trusted person by the entire school in the previous academic year. “It was fun. I had opportunity to gain practice and learning and to do many activities.”
Mr Narong Aphaijai, Director of Ban Mueang Kuet School, Mae Taeng district, Chiang Mai province, shared the background of the school’s “Little SAO” initiative that the school has collaborated with Education Quality Development Network Committee and Child Sponsorship Programme Committee of WVFT’s Mae Taeng Development Programme to conduct an activity to promote youth democracy and student leadership under “Mueang Kuet Model”, in order to give students opportunity to gain learning and practice, as well as academic skills and life skills, from various activities.
“We’d like to get our students to learn about the local administration system, so that they can communicate this to their parents. The children have learnt about democratic administration, election, and roles of the SAO, which is their immediate local administrative mechanism. The Little SAO has also trained students to develop leadership, take responsibilities, and work as a team. The school has been carrying it out for 7 years. Cake is our 7th Little Chief Executive of SAO. Each of the chief executives has set good role model for the younger students. The activity has much interested the students. Those whose parents are in the actual sub-district administration organisation have also applied to be election candidates and got to learn about this since they were young.”
Aside from the Little SAO activity, Director Narong, as well as representatives from the Education Quality Development Network Committee, has exchanged opinions with Dr Sarawut Rachasrimuang, National Director, World Vision Foundation of Thailand, and Mrs Teresa Ferrari, Regional Leader-East Asia Region, World Vision International, during their field visit to monitor the progress of the Child Sponsorship Programme in Chiang Mai province. “Thank you WVFT for fulfilling this educational institute to promote child development readiness. It is a very good thing. When various relevant sectors have joined hands to think and work, the positive impacts fall upon children, which include students’ learning development, children’s abilities to generate ideas and take actions, self-esteem in all aspects, and sense of responsibilities. Besides educational support, children and families have also been promoted to have proper occupations which generate sufficient family income. It takes cooperation from all sectors to make these possible. Nobody will be left behind. Our goal is to develop children to ensure that they grow up successfully, have decent jobs, be able to provide for themselves, and productively contribute to the society. Let’s fulfill these together to drive joint development,” said Director Narong.
In addition to the Little SAO initiative, the executives from World Vision have also learnt about the instructional arrangement for children with learning disabilities and vocational skills development activities for students, such as Little Captains (kayaking tour guides) and bead accessories making, etc. They have also followed up the progress of the occupational support for the family of “Ice”, a sponsored child, who have been provided with local-breed (Pradu Hang Dam) chickens to raise to generate family’s supplementary income. The visitors have also learnt about the transformational process, from the family occupational promotion to the development of Ban Si Dong Yen Community Enterprise, which has built upon Akha traditional sewing skills to make various products which can be sold to generate supplementary income for the group of housewives, who were once jobless, to provide for themselves.
“In the past, four or five of us needed to share a single mackerel, but now each of us has the whole mackerel of our own to eat. Because World Vision has provided occupational support, parents of sponsored children and unemployed housewives get together to work. It’s better than just hanging around and let days pass us by. Many thanks to the sponsor of my son (Ahai) and to WVFT.” Orathai Mayur, the chair of the Akha Housewives - Ban Si Dong Yen Sewing Group wrapped up in a good mood.