When Berni was three years old we began applying at schools with no luck. I offered to teach English for no salary and we were delighted when The Good Child Foundation charity school accepted us. I approached my volunteer work with absolute dedication and after three years I’d managed to improve the children’s English skills to a level only seen in fee paying private schools.
Our Founder is also the Chief of Police of Chanthaburi Province. Last year he asked me to try and raise some much needed funds for our school. I spent some time thinking this over and agreed to help, but with two conditions.
I was to be allowed to find and give school places to any young Down syndrome children.
Down syndrome children here are either sent away to homes for special needs children or never go to school. Obviously the children never reach the potential they undoubtedly have.
I’d have to be allowed to teach the children to sings songs which would relate to my Irish/Celtic background. I felt I was part of the Celtic family and I’d have to go to you for help.
We started about six months ago. The first songs I taught the children were two of my favourites,’The Town I Loved So Well’ and ‘The Fields of Athenry’. Teaching these songs to rural Thai school children takes a tremendous effort from all involved. About three months is required to teach one song. We translate the song into the Thai language [after twenty years my Thai is fluent] so all the children understand the lyrics. I explain the history surrounding the song. Vocabulary games are played with the lyrics and the lyrics themselves are used to teach the children to read. Singing instils confidence in the children for conversation in English. Overall, the songs provide great educational value.
Responses to the children’s singing have been very positive. They have been on many Celtic forums and the Children have sang ‘The Town I Loved so Well’ on Blarney on the Air, a radio station in Chicago. The latest song ‘Over and Over’ by our youngest children was very popular and great fun to make. A good friend of mine, Sean Grew [see youtube] has been instrumental in fund raising for us.
My Downs bhoy is doing well, recently we saved a young Downs girl from a life in an institution by offering her a place at school. She to, is doing just fine. The children singing the songs will have an extra English teacher [who is Irish] soon, a fellow Celt recruited from The Huddleboard. The students life chances will be greatly improved by good language skills. The songs will continue, and the next one is ‘Let the people sing’.
Our students play football in our hoops, sing our songs, and know our history. Please support them, any small amount goes a long way out here.
You can hear more about Paul and the children’s story on this Saturday’s Lostbhoys Podcast.