Five mothers walk side by side, laughing and talking as they reach the gate. Today, they’re celebrating – a new centre is about to open.
The mothers are wearing their best clothes, sleeveless dresses of blue, red and black cotton and have carefully tucked their long hair behind their ears. These women, and the other residents I meet, are smiling widely with anticipation – it’s almost a carnival feeling.
But there are no acrobats or magicians in this village.
Instead, the excitement surrounds a freshly painted orange and white concrete building standing in the centre of town. For this community hidden in the misty hills of northwestern Thailand, it’s a place that offers new hope.
World Vision’s Omkoi Community Development Center promises agricultural opportunities. Training in breeding pigs, raising chickens to produce eggs, growing organic vegetables, pumpkins and longan fruit, along with creating bio-fertilizer, will be offered as a way for villagers to increase their family income.
Already, a mushroom growing programme has been conducted and has been a success – parents learning new farming skills, new ways to earn money.
“We make mushroom packs because no one else is in Omkoi,” says MrIsaraBoonsom, a World Vision manager working in Omkoi.
Some 1,360 families in this village and its surrounding area are expected to benefit. For those who live too far from the centre, a dormitory has been built so that workshop participants can stay at the centre during the multi-day intensive training sessions.
The children I meet are beaming today. Maybe they know what this place could mean to their future. Not too long ago, a high number of children were infected with parasites, Isara tells me. They didn’t have enough food to eat. Few children finished high school.
The parents know the significance though. The mothers I watch walk into the gate tell me their children are sponsored. They are ready for change. They are excited at what this centre means to their community, to their families.
And it’s not the animals and vegetables that might be produced her in the future that excites them. They are excited to grow their knowledge.
For this community hidden in the misty hills of northwestern Thailand, the centre is a place that offers new hope.
For the mothers, it will be a way to ensure that their children stay in school, that they have better health. When parents are able to improve their yields, they can better support their children’s education – even beyond high school.
As the World Vision staff and community leaders get ready to cut the pink ribbon tied across the doors, I notice a little bird sitting on a nearby window. It starts to sing. It’s as if it’s announcing the change that’s on the way.
The Omkoi agriculture learning centre is one of the 16 centres that World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT) has set up under the name of WVFT Development Center. These centres continue to provide hands on training to improve the livelihood of many families.