ARC has a community library (Rang Mai) based in Phrao, Chiang Mai, serving all those around the district who are able to come and visit. With over 6000 books, and bursting at the seams, there is something for everyone, from Harry Potter novels to musical/pop-up books for children. As well as books, there are a good selection of child and adult DVDs to rent for two days. The library also has Wi-Fi, the latest magazines and up-to-date newspapers, making this place a great spot for meeting with friends and socialising within the community. Rang Mai Library has four paid staff members; three all local to Phrao, who are committed to transforming the library into a welcoming environment, promoting the love of reading. Every Friday afternoon, our activities coordinator prepares an arts and crafts activity for the children, which is always sort after and enjoyed by everyone.
With Rang Mai Library as its base, the ARC mobile library travels across the district to far-out places. The mobile library comes in the form of a 4X4 truck, making it easier to visit the mountain schools, where the roads leading to them may not be so good. Three days a week the mobile library will visit different schools to allow students a chance to read and play with a selection of our books. Our activities co-ordinator also arranges fun activities for the children to get involved with. The mobile library will also visit local people in Phrao who may find it difficult to reach the library and those who are disabled. This happens once a month, and books will be left with the individual to enjoy, before being swapped for new ones.
ARC has set up three early childhood literacy centres for hill tribe children, preparing them for primary school. The hill tribes have a different language to Thai, and so, when they leave their villages to start school at age 6/7, they are far behind the other students and may struggle to keep up. The early childhood centres fills this gap by teaching pupils basic Thai skills in preparation. ARC staff and volunteers visit both centres monthly with supplies and to assess learning and teaching.
Bumble Bee Centre is in Mae Pang sub-district of Phrao, and home to hill tribe people known as ‘Pga Kayor’, or 'Karen'.The centre is temporarily closed as almost all of the children who started here have moved onto school in Phrao. We receive reports of their progress and are overjoyed to hear they are doing well. It will be reopened when the very young children dotted around the village are a little older to start learning. Check out our video on a typical ARC monthly visit to Bumble Bee Kids Centre.
Sunshine Kids Center is in Wiang-pa-pao sub-district of Chiang Rai, where the Akha hill tribe people live. There are 8 children here and some have already moved onto school in Phrao and are doing very well. See our footage of a regular ARC monthly visit to Sunshine Kids Center.
Little Smiles Centre is in Mae Wen sub-district, about 45 minutes from Phrao by car. The majority of the villagers are from Lisu tribes, but we also have a few Lahu children in our class too. In May 2015, we started the centre with 14 children and 2 teachers. They are a large group and we are excited to watch the little ones develop and grow.
ARC are preparing to open another community library called Bai Mon Library in Oothong District, Suphanburi Province. ARC started the mobile library service in this area of Thailand prior to their work focused in the North. ARC plan to use Bai Mon Library as the base for providing not only books and dvds for rental to residents of Oothong, but also to continue their mobile library services around Suphanburi.
ARC started their mobile library activities around Bangkok and surrounding areas in various places such as orphanages, refugee centres and parks. Many volunteers got involved and were a big help in bringing books to different venues, setting up the mobile site and putting together fun activities for the children.
In Bangkok area, ARC has been active in areas focused on sustainability. Fundraising and public relations activities form a major part of ensuring ARC's continued project success in the Thai community. ARC has been blessed to work with many individuals and organisations who believe in our work.