Mobile By Issarachon

ActionAid Thailand Joins Forces with the Issarachon Foundation to Brighten the Lives of Some of Thailand’s Poorest Children.

 Bangkok’s Homeless Children Given the Chance to Smile

Here in the slums of Bangkok, children sleep on sidewalks. Denied the opportunity to experience the joys of growing up, they beg for money, hide from sexual predators, and pray for comfort.

Most of these kids have never owned a single toy.

ActionAid Thailand has decided to change that, by donating its Big Smiles Van to the Issarachon Foundation. The Issarachon Foundation, which has been widely lauded for its outreach to Bangkok’s many homeless people, is already doing much to ensure the van brings hope to hundreds of young lives.

"The Big Smiles Van is a learning station that lets kids use their imagination and explore their creativity . It is also provides an opportunity for people to make new friends and exchange life experiences. Inside the van are items including sports accessories, educational and developmental games, toys and VCD cartoons. We are delighted to donate the Big Smiles van and its contents to the Issarachon Foundation, " Said Vachararutai Boontinand, executive director, ActionAid Thailand.

The Big Smiles Van is now also rolling through Bangkok’s slums with a fully-stocked toy library, which contains a colorful assembly of playthings and cuddly stuffed animals just waiting for a special child’s love.

Said Issarachon Foundation president, Natee Sorvaree, "as our foundation expanded and we received more donations, we realized our one small van alone was not enough to fulfill our wishes to help these people. We applied to ActionAid for help and were delighted to receive their Big Smiles (Tam Yin) van. It is already making such a difference. You can see it on the happy faces of the kids."

"The Big Smiles Van’s mobile toy library is full of donated items such as toys and fairy tale books for younger children," Natee continued. "We also supply puppets and books to older kids. The Big Smiles Van also provides activities that parents can join, so that they may also have some fun and form deeper bonds with their children."

Many of the families living here came to Bangkok with the goal of building more prosperous lives. Instead, they became trapped in a downward spiral of poverty that has kept them virtually trapped in the slums. With the help of AAT’s Big Smiles Van, the Issarachon Foundation has been able to provide free transportation so that families that desire to do so, may return home to their villages in the countryside. The van is also providing educational outreach so that children may become better acquainted with Thailand’s environment and natural resources. In addition, the van spends a portion of its time reaching out to surrounding rural areas.

The Big Smiles Van was originally founded as part of ActionAid Thailand’s Tsunami Project. Once operating in six provinces in Southern Thailand, it provided education and resources for young people affected by the 2004 disaster. At the time, Big Smiles visited schools, communities and temporary shelters. It also offered a theater workshop that taught creative puppetry and amateur drama. Such workshops will now be offered by the Issarachon Foundation.

"We at ActionAid are thrilled that the Big Smiles Van is continuing its life of service to Thailand’s poor through the Issarachon Foundation. I think the biggest smiles are our own, knowing that so many more deserving children will experience the joy of play and reap the benefits of education,

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