I've learned that it is important to be around positive people and build relationships with those who inspire you instead of those who drain your energy. Ever since I've arrived in Nong Khai and got to the Isara community center, I've received the warmest welcome and have seen the most sincere effort for positive change in the community. Kirk and Ming are the backbone of this foundation-- when I see them at work and speak with them about the history of their foundation and plans for its future, I can feel their hearts poured into everything that they do. I know I've made the right decision to be here and help them accomplish their vision.
Isara (pronounced EE-suh-ruh) means "freedom" in Thai, and was founded on the idea that volunteers shouldn't have to pay to take part in donating their time in services. At the Isara Learning Center, we offer free classes to local children 3 days a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It is run like an afterschool program-- kids come in the afternoon after school is out. Though we are teaching English, the grander goal is also simply to teach the kids how to use their minds and give them the tools to reach their full potential as individuals. Unfortunately, the current education system in Thailand is widely based on rote memorization and repitition. Many teachers have simply given up and lack motivation to actually see their students' progress and learning unfold, and instead are counting down the days to their retirement. When children are raised in an education system like this, they grow up thinking that things only happen one way and they only have limited options in life. It stunts them from realizing all other possibilities made available to them by the Universe.
Kirk came to Thailand several years ago to take a break from life in America. He volunteered and helped teach at a local school and loved that feeling of beneficially contributing to others' lives. Being here, he also realized how much more he could do with money, in terms of positive results and resources for change for a fraction of what it might cost in the US. So, he decided to move to Nong Khai and build this foundation upon his dreams of making positive change for youth and the future.
In life, we all pick and choose our own battles. The important thing is that we actually make a choice, and not let ourselves fall into the wayside of letting our lives pass us by without giving ourselves the chance to take control and make things happen.
If you are interested in supporting Isara Charity Organization, check out http://www.isara.org/ and become a sponsor or make a donation on the page. Even simpler—make http://www.isara.org/ your homepage. Site traffic provides funds the organization. A little money goes a long way here in Thailand! Just to give you some examples… a bowl of pho or a full plate of pad thai is less than $1! A mug of iced coffee and Thai iced tea is about 25 cents. And that’s just talking about the food… A small amount of your money also translates to funding scholarships for childrens’ education and resources for their learning. We would all appreciate any kind of help and publicity for the work we do make a difference =)