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Community Projects

Our community programs are developed when a perceived unmet need is noticed. We talk to locals, discuss options then develop a program. Our unique position of being in regular contact with socially aware foreigners and being active members of local communities has opened a variety of social opportunities. We currently host or sponsor the following community projects.

Angkor Hospital for Children Tuk-Tuk Program - Siem Reap, Cambodia

Visitor Center at AHC

We first stopped by the Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) in May 2010 and were moved. Started in 1999 by a Japanese photographer who was shocked at the lack of medical care for kids he jumped-in. Today AHC sees up to 600 patients per day, all free of charge.

During a visit we learned a major problem is that many families are not able to afford the cost of transport to/from the hospital from their home. A visit is deferred until the patient's condition is much worse than it needs to be. This is where Smiling Albino comes in.

We employ our favorite tuk-tuk driver, Mr. Sophoan, to drive patients to/from the hospital at least six times per month ensuring kids get the treatment they need before their condition unnecessarily worsens. We pay Mr. Sophoan $20US/day, far more than he'd make looking for customers on his own, providing him with much needed work/income and sick kids get to the hospital – everyone wins!

We're currently accepting donations to keep this program running through the end of 2012. To be a part of getting kids to the hospital in Siem Reap make a donation by clicking on our PayPal button. 100% of donated funds go directly to the program.

If you'd like to help out or have any questions please send us an email: community@smilingalbino.com.

Scholarships for Students - Mae Sariang, Thailand

Samsara scholarship recipients

Getting a high school education is impossible for many Thai children. The government only requires students to complete Grade 9 and those from poor families more often than not simply do not have funds to continue their studies. This is a real shame as their future is stunted while still at a very young age. Through the generous donations of our guests and friends we're trying to change this situation.

Working with the Samsara Foundation, Smiling Albino has sponsored 10 hilltribe students from the Mae Sariang region of NW Thailand, along the border with Myanmar, and will pay for their education to the end of Grade 12. Selected students are from the poorest of the poor and completing high school will give them a huge step up in life. Their interest in studying is a testament to their desire for a brighter future.

Highland Farm & Gibbon Sanctuary - Prop Phra, Tak Province, Thailand

Highland Farm

Lending grass-route support to a truly inspirational animal refuge and reforestation project that cares for injured/abused gibbon apes and other creatures in need.

We first met Pharanee (Thai) & Bill Deters (American) in 2000 during a visit to a remote corner of Tak province, along Thailand's border with Myanmar in the northern part of the kingdom. While building a home for a 'quiet' retirement in 1991, the Deters took in one long-limbed gibbon ape and soon after began taking in more animals as they learned of these creatures' vanishing from thier forest homes and all-to-often mistreatment by humans. And so it went, with more apes taking-up residence at what is now Highland Farm and Gibbon Sanctuary, home to more than 40 creatures in need. Run entirely on the Deters pension and private donations, life became more challenging after Bill's sudden passing in 2002. Pharanee continues to care for her "kids" as she calls them and keeps Highland running smoothly. Smiling Albino is been proud to donate a portion of client revenues to help care for "Jerry" the gibbon and other residents at Highland Farm.

Building Schools - Nepal

Nepal Schools

While hiking in the Chepang Hills during Smiling Albino's first Nepal adventure in 2006, we noticed a need for new schools in this remote mountainous area. Guests on that inaugural trip jumped-to-the-cause and donated money to build a small school, which was completed in early 2007. Since then we've continued to channel and manage client donations to build several schools along our trekking trails. In these rural areas educational opportunities are poor and state funding insufficient, creating the ideal opportunity for guests to leave their mark well after their Smiling Albino adventure.

English Fun Days

If you're interested in participating as a volunteer teacher at any of these locations, please fill out our Questionnaire.

If you have questions after reading this information, please contact us at community@smilingalbino.com.

Santikiri High School - Doi Mae Salong, Chiang Rai Province, Thailand

Mae Salong - Santikiri High School

A unique program that develops curriculum and places foreign volunteers as short-term English teachers at a school in Thailand's remote north.

During our first months in Thailand, back in 1999, we fell in love with the charming mountain town of Doi Mae Salong. Tucked along the Thai-Myanmar border in the country's northermost province Chiang Rai, this area is home to Chinese that fled their home country after the Cultural Revolution. Many hilltribe groups, notably Ahka, originally from Tibet, continue to live in this community creating an eclectic mix of people.

While visiting local schools we came up with the idea to send English-speaking volunteers to spend two-weeks teaching fun, hands-on English programs, creating an ideal cultural exchange for everyone.

Response was great and we've been facilitating programs here ever since. Smiling Albino sources volunteers, designs curriculum, makes local arrangements and provides funds to make this rare opportunity for local children to learn from native speakers possible.

Surowa Huamark Noi School - Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok - Huamark Noi School

Placing short-term foreign volunteers at an urban school to teach English.

The popularity and success of our Doi Mae Salong English Fun Days program led us to start a new version of the program at a school in suburban Bangkok.

Since 2003 we have coordinated short sessions (usually a few days) of English instruction and activities for the 800 mostly Muslim students from Kindergarten to Grade 6 at Surowa Huamark Noi School in Bangkok's eastern suburbs.

As is the case at most public Thai schools, the students at Surowa Huamark Noi rarely have the chance learn or interact with a native English speaker, making this an ideal cultural exchange for all.

Ban Rachawadee Ying Girls Home - Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok - Ban Rachawadee Ying Girls Home

This heart-warming home for mentally handicapped women is one of our favorite places for cultural exchanges and lending support.

Ban Rachawadee Ying (BRY), a wonderful girl's home for mentally challenged females located in Bangkok's suburbs, is a moving place. Operated by the Department of Social Development and Welfare, it's home to more than 500 women typically ranging in age from seven to 18. Residents come from a variety of backgrounds,some are brought to BRY as their families can't properly care for them, while others are abandoned and some are brought for a short-term stay and never picked up again.Their abilities and needs are as varied as their backgrounds - some residents can play sport and read books, while others can't enjoy more than lying in their beds.

Smiling Albino (SA) lends support to BRY several times per year in the form of social exchanges and activities. These range from beautification sessions, such as mural paintings, to brighten the overall environment of the home, to swimming trips and arts and crafts workshops.

Ban Rachawadee Ying does not accept drop-in visitors. While they appreciate your interest, such visits are more disruptive than helpful. A better way to lend assistance is by donating funds or apply towards an upcoming SA social exchange. If you would like to pursue this avenue, send an email to community@smilingalbino.com. Please note we can not provide tax receipts.

Clothing, Toys, & Other Stuff - all regions we travel

Bangkok - Ban Rachawadee Ying Girls Home

Via guests and friends, SA regularly collects clothing and other donations for hilltribe villages and remote communities throughout the regions we travel.

Smiling Albino's unique position of being in regular contact with foreigners and travelers enables us to collect blankets, clothing and mosquito nets to assist rural communities in the areas we travel. On occasion we also donate items such as children's toys and books to lower opportunity areas around the region. Our Team regularly makes deliveries of such items to far-flung villages most in need of assistance.

Rather than giving money and items to locals during your trip we ask that you direct donations to our Team directly, who will then channel these items to the most deserving persons at the most appropriate time. Assisting in this manner ensures we do not disrupt local communities and their often delicate social balance and hierarchies.

If you're interested in donating useful items or funds please contact us at community@smilingalbino.com. We're making a difference one Smile at a time.