Charity? It’s all about the money. That’s what a cynic might say. But maybe people actually involved in charity work know better? To find out, we asked one of the most active charity foundations on the island and they told us that it’s all about… the people. Meet the people behind Phuket Has Been Good to Us Foundation.
It was in the wake of the disastrous 2004 tsunami that a local restaurateur Tom McNamara asked the director of the Baan Kalim – a school that he has long supported via his Baan Rim Pa Group – how to help? The reply was – we have money pouring in from fundraisers abroad and the Thai government, we have a new building, what we’re lacking is high-quality English language education. And so, Phuket Has Been Good to Us (PHBGTU) was born.
For the first year, the foundation provided a qualified English teacher to the school in Kalim. A year later, they found another school to support, this time in Kamala, and has been doing so ever since, adding more services as they went, such as teaching not only the English language but also mathematics and science in English; organizing afternoon activities through their Coconut Club and teaching kids to swim. McNamara passed away in 2008 but the people at PHBGTU keep his vision alive to this day.
The teachers sponsored by the foundation are qualified, speak fluent English and are in it for the long run. It’s crucial for the kids to experience consistency in their learning, which is why PHBGTU teachers are contracted for one year at the least. And it works – the foundation’s senior teacher has been with them for three years already, two other teachers are in their second year and two more in their first.
The foundation also works with volunteers, who receive accommodation, visas and work permits. And despite the fact that they need to be able to fund everything else – the flight, the food etc. there are always some helping hands at the office and at the school. They usually stay for six months to one year and bring with them more than their time and skills – each new arrival injects a new dose of enthusiasm and new ideas into the project, inspiring everyone involved – including the people responsible for fundraising and managing the administrative efforts – to keep up the good work.
Over the years PHBGTU has created a network of supporters, including many local businesses. It’s with their help that they organize their highly popular fundraisers, which take care of about 1/3 of the organization’s budget. Taking place at beach clubs, luxurious hotels, resorts’ ballrooms etc. PHBGTU events are plentiful, always fun and attended by people who believe that the best way to change a child’s life is through education.
In the end, all the effort that goes into running the foundation is for them – the kids of Baan Kalim and Kamala schools. With the help of PHBGTU teachers, they improve their English skills boosting their future chances on the job market and breaking the poverty cycle. Some of them are orphans, some come from families that cannot fully support their education, all need the help they are getting. Since it was established in 2005 the foundation has provided quality education to more than 4600 children.
There are many ways you can help. You can simply support the foundation financially. You can attend their events, have fun and do good in the process. You can bid on prizes from local sponsors. It’s all great, but maybe what PHBGTU needs most is…you! Your time, skills and passion. They are always looking for volunteers, and the ones that are already there – at the office and in the school – say it’s totally worth it. For the experience, for the inspiration, for the challenge of it…and you know, for kids!
Learn more on phukethasbeengoodtous.org