Founder’s Report for 2020 and 2021
As I write this, I think back to what we thought this finishing-well year would bring. Covid 19 continues to impact much of our plans as we continue to try and finish well, within our alternative plans. I can say that, even though they are so extremely different plans to what we dreamed of, they do still meet some of the biggest dreams I had for this ministry.
At the last AGM, we were still hoping for a pared-down holiday for the children in the way of a holiday at home. This was not possible as people who would have come in to make that possible were not permitted to enter the orphanage, due to concerns of Covid getting to the children.
The study tour was still a wish and was put back on hold longer and longer, until, as a committee, it was decided that too much time would have passed for it to be able to have a big enough impact.
We moved on to seeing the funds as a resource to flood Bann Feung Fah and surrounding charities with supplies and blessings. These consisted of the following for Bann Feung Fah:
- Murals for the sick ward isolation rooms to bring comfort to those children who were contagious. These Winnie-the-Pooh canvases were painted here and posted to Thailand to a friend of 1Step2Step who put them on frames and delivered them.
- A computer and database to improve the management of the medication ordering to help prevent waste and shortages of essential medical needs. This was organised with a tech friend of mine for the computer and a company remotely sorted the database. Sadly, after about six months, the hard drive failed, but wonderfully that friend has sourced a new one and is getting it up and running again presently.
- A funeral fund for each of the remaining children who had been on 1Step2Step was created. This was to be given to each home for however many of our children they had. Ratchawadee Boys was the only home who said this would not be possible to do as we were not the children’s natural guardians. The others have made note of it on the children’s medical records for when that sad moment comes. It is with sadness that we heard Miss Natnaree passed away and Bann Feung Fah used those funds for covering her funeral costs.
- We assisted Bann Feung Fah with funds to fix five oxygen compressors, which bring about the breathing assistance that many children need from time to time and four children had been dependent on one full-time. All five machines went and were fixed and working on return, but two of those have now (outside of the warranty time) subsequently broken for good now. They still have enough machines as they presently have two children dependent on them. One of the four children passed away and the other was successfully weaned off the dependency for oxygen. It might be a consideration to suggest that left-over funds buy one brand new one which would help to have one very very dependable one. This could be considered.
- A full range of surgical wound care tools was bought, making it so that regular sterilizing of them would make for more hygienic wound care practices. It also meant that the surgical kits that were taken to the wards were able to be sterilized afterwards for improved infection control between wards.
- We sent two shipments by mail of nappies over to Bann Feung Fah of the special needs sizes that are not available in Thailand, which had been donated or bought here in the UK. These brought about a season of comfort for the bigger children of Bann Feung Fah and reduced the potential for leaking due to the extra absorbance they have.
- Aside from the things we gave or assisted Bann Feung Fah to get with our funds, we were also able to network for them to get a machine to assist with the removal of secretions. This is called a Hill Rom vibrations vest and pump. When the vest is worn and inflated with the pump tubes attached, air is forced in and out of the vest causing vibrations that shake the chest walls releasing the secretions. Then suction to remove the secretions is much more effective. This was donated by a charity in the USA, via a contact of a friend in Thailand. This is a really helpful tool, but presently the nurse has said that in the busy Covid prevention season they are unfortunately just not getting time to do this therapy. I hope in the long term they will be able to add this to the medical therapy they can prioritize, but I do understand the restrictions they are presently facing.
- We looked for other ways the funds could make an impact and found some great opportunities with some of my contacts from the years I was there. Dorothy has a small home group and we gave them some funds to help with some new activities they could do from the home as Thailand was restricted due to lockdown. Then there is CCD, who run a day care on the Bann Feung Fah grounds. We were able to send funds for them to get a new feeding chair, treadmill for walking therapy and funds to aid children from Bann Feung Fah to attend their next Rainbow Camp. These will help Bann Feung Fah children, but through the care provided by CCD.
One other project we did with an outside agency was through my dear friend Nicole, who is based in Chiang Mai helping families keep their children with them. She was the person who often helped me with communication aids that encouraged my kids (especially Siwakorn) to express their wishes.
Firstly, we gave Nicole a gift of some funds to continue her work. Then we gave her funds to start a pilot scheme for communication and stimulation resources to aid children with similar levels as ours to stay home, families to be supported and encouraged to aid their children’s improved potential. We also left a fund for assisting those families to get high calorie feed, nappies and medical supplies, so they could improve in physical health as well as ability.
We talked of linking the Bann Feung Fah teacher team into the network of multi-disciplinary professionals, so they could gain knowledge of how to incorporate encouraging communication into play and learning. Sadly, this didn’t work out in the way hoped, but Nicole still has hopes that after Covid we may be able to link them up and offer some kind of training.
1Step2Step Committee also felt that some of the remaining funds should be used to assist me. It had already been agreed upon that they would fund some counselling for me as part of the Charity’s duty of care for my well-being as a long-term volunteer and so this was done. I benefited from that support greatly and have chosen to continue funding that myself, because of the great benefits in helping me process. I’m grateful for the assistance I had giving me the chance to take that up.
It was also agreed that I would be given the value of a return flight to re-visit Thailand, once Covid issues have subsided and it’s safe to travel. This will help me gain some closure, as my departure from Thailand was so fast and traumatic that the sense of an unfinished bond with the place, people and life there is in the back of my mind. A trip will tie up the 15 years of my life there.
All the things we did to aid Bann Feung Fah in the best ways we could were only made possible with Nurse Tan’s help, her greatly improved communication skills and massive personal extra efforts. For this reason, we spent a small amount on a gift for her, which I will take with me when I return to Thailand (as it’s something that cannot be sent by post).
Also, it has been a wish for many years to visit some of the adopted children who went to America. This will enable me to see their progress and maybe even help them with questions they have about their childhoods. 1Step2Step allocated me some funds to make that journey possible at some point in my future.
Within the funds 1Step2Step had, there was an amount which was restricted from Mum’s will. This was directed to be spent on something particular to aid the children of Bann Feung Fah. Mum had always been concerned about the low weights of the children and particularly the children with feeding difficulties. After she attended study tours with our visitors and saw how children in the UK had special pumps in hospital for feeding instead of the Bolster method used at Bann Feung Fah, she spoke of her longing for that to be possible for Bann Feung Fah children. In her own illness, she experienced the benefits of these pumps for herself for a short season. This was always my wish too, but it felt like a pipe dream. In chats with Nurse Tan, as we looked for ideas for good uses of our funds, she spoke of these pumps that she had seem in the UK. She had spoken of them to the visiting doctor to Bann Feung Fah, who agreed that one particular child would benefit from them. After a long discussion about the possibility that the child gained so much in weight and improved health that they wished they had more machines, we came to the conclusion that we should buy five pumps. The great news is the child has gained 3kg after continuously losing weight for years and throwing up every day, three times a day. He still has a very sensitive stomach, but now maybe only once a week does he have an off day. The other joy is that another child has been using one of the other pumps for his feeds in recent months. He would cry in pain every feed and be unable to stand and walk, but after they put the feeding pump in place, he no longer cries, and the staff understand and get less frustrated with him. The pumps have also been an asset to prevent children having to go to hospital in this Covid scary time, as they have been able to use the pumps for IV drips to re-hydrate children who have stomach bugs or are struggling to eat. This happens a few times a month when they can offer this to children from other wards. The less mixing with the outside world that goes on for this Covid anxious time, the less chance of Covid affecting children and staff from hospital runs, but they are still getting the medical help the hospital would offer.
Bann Feung Fah has done amazingly well to keep the children safe. There was a time that a member of staff got Covid and some children tested positive also, but without symptoms. They were isolated in the rooms where we put the murals and fully recovered. Sadly, the member of staff had many other medical issues and passed away. This is so sad, but for the orphanage who have such medically fragile children, it’s quite amazing how well they have protected the children: all credit to the whole team.
As of the date of this report, we have three tasks outstanding to complete. The first being that we wish to put plaques on the feeding pumps to acknowledge that these were bought for the good of the children by funds from Sally Anderson, as was her request. This is in the process of being done here, as orphanage staff are still in lockdown measures and unable to sort it themselves.
The second is that in order to celebrate the generous efforts of the whole 1Step2Step team of trustees and committee members for their help in the 14 years of its run, we intend to pay for a meal. The chance to talk over the highs and lows and accomplishments is just what the team needs to round up this work.
The final use of funds is to send the rest, which comes to around £2500 to Bann Feung Fah. In the last months, conversations have been had about how in the UK there are hoist systems on the ceiling to help transfer children into bathrooms, transfer them from bed to chair and to transfer them from activity and mobility aid to resting. We dreamed this would be something they wanted and pushed it in every study tour, but with limited hope they would take it on board. Nurse Tan shared with the boss about those they had seen, and the hope is our left-over funds could be matched by the Bann Feung Fah foundation to make it possible for a hoist system to be used in the sick ward to transfer children from bathroom to bedroom. This raises the hope that the sick ward would see its value and Ratchaprut ward would be given one too in the future. This is a massive hope and I’m praying that Covid’s timing has not dampened their wish for it. I continue to talk on that matter with Nurse Tan to see if it is possible.
Once the funds are fully spent, it will be the end of a 15-year ministry to the precious children of Bann Feung Fah. The highs of progress and the lows of loss have been a roller-coaster, but throughout it all I can say God has been faithful and at work in a mighty way: from His providing for the most detailed need to using all hardship to teach new truths. We will never know the true value of our ministry, but we can say with belief that God loves us, we love Him, He loves the children, but they didn’t know that love, we showed them the Father’s love through our actions and ministry, and they glimpsed His love for themselves. Thank you for every aspect of your efforts. God bless you all.