Readers' Submissions

Say Buddy, Can You Spare A Dime?

  • Written by Anonymous
  • July 27th, 2007
  • 4 min read



There has been a lot said about the decline in the dollar in relationship to the Thai baht lately and rightly so. For folks like me it has become near critical because I support a Thai wife (we have been married 18 years), 3 children of our own and an additional 11 unrelated children who live with us in our home, three of whom are now in university.

We want to be able to do more but we simply cannot, considering our limited budget (we depend on donations from friends) and the declining value of the dollar. It is not only the fact that the dollar has lost considerable ground against the baht – it is also the massive increases in school costs – added fees and tuitions, books and uniforms, fuel costs, utilities, and food prices that has taken a heavy toll on our ability to provide badly needed help for impoverished kids who need to remain in school. I no longer teach at the university but have chosen a more satisfying way to spend my time, I operate an orphanage strictly on guts.

It has now been ten years since we opened our home fulltime for kids. We came to Thailand in order to get away from the rat race and dissatisfying life working style in the Middle East so we could look after indigent kids. We have helped lots of them over the years but there are far too many for us to help. We try to do our best to help whenever possible. Say buddy, can you spare a dime?

We currently sponsor a school with 142 children (Ban Yoei Sakae School in Buriram province) with grades nursery to grade six.

Many of your readers enjoy the life here in Thailand as well but perhaps some of them might consider making a small donation to a local school near where they live. Visitors to Thailand for short visits can do the same. We have or are providing new donated items to this school, such as desks, water coolers, paint and playground equipment and find out which of the children are deemed neediest and outfit them with inexpensive uniforms. We have provided flip-flop shoes for kids in quite a few schools who otherwise would go barefoot. They are not fancy but they are cheap. They do the trick. Say buddy, can you spare a dime?

Friends help contribute toward offsetting the cost of these items. Now we have just outfitted 47 kids with uniforms and are encouraging folks in Canada, the USA, Australia, England and elsewhere to donate used children’s books in English so we can deliver 50 books each to the school libraries. There are approximately 1,100 schools in our province so that is going to take a lot of effort but we have people already helping to gather and send these welcomed items. 29 libraries have graciously received them so far. Snowball effects. We are hoping to gather 55,000 books this year.

Uniforms for kids: A simple set of one white shirt and khaki pants, or one blouse and blue skirt is not much more than 200 baht. Having worked in rural Thailand since 1998 we have learned that here in the rural areas that schools receive a mere 5 baht per child per day in government assistance. That is 1,100 baht per year for elementary students and 1,800 for secondary students. That does not include the cost of teacher salaries which are borne by the government but the schools have to make do with what they receive including covering the cost of supplies, utilities and maintenance expenses for the school.

I am convinced that some of your readers, if they were to take the time to consider these and other kids in the same situation, would not suffer a major cash crisis if they were to come up with a little chump change to help out. Take the time to check out one of more of the schools in the rural areas near where you are staying and dig into your pockets, you don’t have to go too deep.

Go to a store that sells uniforms and buy a few sets and deliver them to one of these schools. The kids most in need are generally the younger ones, the 4 – 10 year olds. Watch the smiles on their faces when they receive something nice from a foreigner.

Here at the TreeHouse we write several hundred email letters every month and send them everywhere, asking folks to get involved in doing something to help the less fortunate. The costs are minimal and you will certainly feel better than you might trying to recover from one too many of those god-awful hangovers. No need to get the government involved, that entails waste, fraud and abuse. Besides the kids won’t get much that way. Until next time. Say buddy, can you spare a dime? Of course, you can if you want to. Be blessed for it. Thanks Stick for allowing me this opportunity to encourage your readers to provide some assistance to needy kids.


Roger Walker

Tree of Life Orphanage Buriram

Stickman's thoughts:

I have always said to people who wish to help out to buy kids a pair of shoes. It breaks my heart to see kids in rural areas walking to and from school barefoot. A pair of shoes, proper shows, not flip flops, costs little – but they can make a big difference to kids. Also, basic materials including pens and pencils given by a farang will be very special items that the kid will take a pride in using – and it may be the turning point which really makes them a better student.