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Tag: The SET Foundation

Wishing You a Very Merry SET Christmas

SET Foundation

Here’s wishing you all a very Merry SET Christmas…

It’s now been six years since I discovered The SET Foundation, and five years since I turned over WLT’s ad revenue to SET as well.

What’s the SET Foundation?

The SET Foundation has a very specific aim: to make a difference. That difference is between a youngster being able to study at a vocational college or university, or instead having to labor in the rice paddies, on a Bangkok building site, or in some other mundane, dead-end job.

By giving scholarships and other practical support, SET is making the difference for an increasing number of disadvantaged Thai students. We do it voluntarily, enthusiastically and very cost-effectively.

Have you noticed that each year there’s a shocking charity scandal? After discovering SET I’ve been confident that WLT’s donations go direct to the Thai students in need. So there’s been no more worries about supporting fancy skyrise offices, big fat black cars, or expensive vacations to tropical places.

And nothing makes me happier than when I receive an email about a WLT reader donating to the SET Foundation. And as this is the season of giving, I wanted to give my thanks to those donating in WLT’s name (or just plain donating).

Who’s donating to the SET Foundation?…

Since 2010, instead of sending money for sidebar ads, Benjawan (Talking Thai-English-Thai Dictionary) and Achim (L-lingo) have been donating direct to SET. Can you just imagine how many Thai students have benefitted from their generosity? Megga thanks to both of you!

Learn Thai Podcast is an intermittent sponsor of both SET and WLT (LTP recently helped get WLT back in shape). Recent affiliate donors are Glossika and Jcademy. And a onetime donation came from HelloTalk. Thank you Jay and Jo, Mike, Stu, and Zachary!

Many individuals have donated to SET in WLT’s name but have requested to remain anonymous. Many thanks to all of you as well!

As each donation arrives, Peter Robinson (Director of SET) sends me an email of thanks. I guess you could say that it’s like Xmas for everyone, but all year around.

Peter Robinson: SET receives terrific financial support from many members and sponsors of WLT. That increasing and generous support enables the foundation to help many more impoverished Thai youngsters every year.

In 2015, SET will be awarding long-term scholarships to 1,500 students at school, college or university and an additional 1,000+ one-off welfare grants to those with unexpected financial difficulties. That’s quite an achievement which is made possible only because of the generosity of our friends around the world, including followers of WLT.

We at SET – and our students – offer you our sincere thanks and best wishes for a happy 2015.

Donating to the SET Foundation via Paypal is dead easy. On their sidebar select a number from the paypal dropdown, or type a different number in the box below.

Other posts about the SET Foundation…

The SET Foundation: A Season for Giving Back
Inciting Acts of Kindness: The SET Foundation
Feel Like Donating? Give to the SET Foundation Instead

In WLT’s Sidebar: Feel Like Donating?

Ho ho ho everyone. Merry Xmas and Happy New Year. I thank you all for your support.

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Feel Like Donating? Give to the SET Foundation Instead

Feel Like Donating? Give to the SET Foundation Instead

The ho ho ho’s of Christmas are coming up fast…

All through the year I keep a look out for Xmas gifts suitable for friends and family. I’m not a huge gift giver anymore. Not when it comes to all that necessary luggage stuffing. Because each holiday everything purchased in Thailand has to be taken from here to somewhere over there and there and there. But nevertheless, I do want the presents to be right.

By November, if I haven’t collected enough of a stash, my hunt for gifts goes into overdrive. Are you are the same? Or do you wait until Christmas Eve to go shopping (I’ve been there). Or do you forgo Christmas totally?

But no matter if you are a gift giver or not, or Christian even, the good will at Christmas often points our hearts away from ourselves to focus on others. And as I get older, I even find myself doing similar for birthdays.

This year for my birthday, instead of asking for more stuff, I started donating to the SET Foundation on a monthly basis.

You can read about it in a post penned during the Thai crisis: Inciting Acts of Kindness: The SET Foundation.

Feel Like Donating? Give to the SET Foundation Instead…

The holidays are here again, so when I received the below email SET came to mind.

[WLT is] Without doubt the best aggregator of Thai learning resources on the net. Congratulations. You should put up a link where people can contribute / donate. An impressed bloke!

And yes. His kudos did give me the warm and fuzzies :-)

WLT is a hobby site; it’s not a money-maker. It takes money to run WLT and that’s fine. My Thai, while slowly improving, is still cacca. Sure. But I’ve learned so much about the Thai language and Thai culture since I started WLT, that I feel it’s me getting the main benefit. Creating useful content for others is a big part of it as well, so… it’s a win win all around.

Now about that donation idea… If you feel that WLT is a worthwhile resource, then why not show your appreciation by donating to Peter Robinson’s SET Foundation? Or how about this – take WLT out of the equation, and donate to SET regardless.

And if you do donate, for whatever reason, then we’ll all get an extra warm and fuzzy this holiday season.

Btw. If you’d like a quick overview of SET – like the fact that less than 3% of their income is spent on administration – then my older post gives you just that: The SET Foundation: A Season for Giving Back.

From Peter Robinson: The greatest gift…

When I asked Peter for a quote for this post, he was happy to do so.

“The greatest gift we can give these impoverished youngsters is opportunity; the opportunity to make something of themselves, to achieve something for themselves and to break free from the poverty that they were born into. By giving them the opportunity to study for vocational skills or university degrees, we can change their bleak futures; we can change their lives”.

SET has been working in Thailand for 18 years, originally as the Students’ Education Trust. The charity was established by Peter Robinson, who was then the monk Phra Peter Pannapadipo. SET became a registered Foundation in 2005.

Pra Peter's graduation photoThe charity’s original purpose was to help just one high school student attend university. The student – Seckson – had gained a university place to study for a Bachelor degree in Physics but was too impoverished to take up his place. Instead, he had taken a job cleaning car windscreens in a gas station. Peter thought that was a terrible waste of talent and appealed to his friends in the UK for support for Seckson. They readily agreed but sent too much money. The balance became a fund to help other youngsters in a similar position.

SET grew from there and, by the end of 2010, had taken nearly 4,000 needy students through high school, college or university; sometimes all three with continuous support for up to twelve years.

Seckson, student number 0001, is now Dr Seckson and is a university lecturer in Nuclear Physics. Not bad for a boy who once saw his future as cleaning car windscreens!

In the photo is Peter with three of his SET students. All three have a place in Peter’s book, Little Angels. The students are celebrating their recent Masters, and Peter his Hon Doc. Impressive.

My small monthly donation pays for one student to go to college for a year. Now just think about that for a minute. Even a small donation to SET can change the future of a deserving Thai student. Forever. And that, is huge.

Monthly, one time, whatever, all donations are needed. So if you are thinking of donating, please do.

Oh. And if you do donate, please don’t forget to tell Peter that Catherine sent you :-)

The SET Foundation: Making the difference.

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Bangkok: I’m Getting the Last Word in Edgewise

Think Thailand

Thinking about Thailand…

I debated about writing this post because I don’t want WLT to be taken over by Thai politics. Also, my leanings are more towards history, with a preference towards reading about politicians long dead. So political events in Thailand, especially as they happen, are in a mist of confusion because I don’t have a deep knowledge of the many arguments going around.

I will continue to make my way through the many books and resources suggested in Newley’s TopicThailand.com. But it’s a slow process so I’m sure to be plugging away when the next round hits Thailand. And it will. Guaranteed.

To explain just how not up I am on Thai politics, if allowed to vote in Thai elections I’d vote for Abhisit. Why? Because he’s cute. See? (Yes, I am blushing).

The idea for this post came from Tony’s video: Bangkok Burns. I started to leave a comment, then realized that I had too much to say. Also, I wanted to write down my personal feelings from when I started taking photos of the Red Shirts parades, to the present (please note that I said ‘feelings’ and not ‘political views’). But I wasn’t quite sure if I should write about them at all. Until now.

This week a comment came via email saying that WLT presented just the one side: The Red Shirts. That is incorrect; I support all of Thailand. But after a bit of a think, I now understand where he’s coming from. My site is awash with red, but so was Bangkok. There is no denying.

Looking back through recent Bangkok events is painful…

On May 19th, when I flipped through to the different tv channels watching the Thai army go into the Red Shirt fort at Ratchaprasong, I did what I rarely do. I cried. Hard. I’m not a person who cries hard very often. But when it does happen, it always involves death: My granddaughter, grandmother, father-in-law, former husband, a marriage, the 9/11 attack on the WTC.

Without coming off overly dramatic, I’m not sure what to call this death. Do you?

On the 19th, upset and pissed off at pretty much everyone involved (as well as suffering from a rare loss for words), I ditched my idea for a ‘Heartfelt wishes to Thailand’ post. I preferred to go with Bon’s sweet From Thailand to the World creation instead. Thank you Bon.

Let me explain… During the Red Shirt parades around Bangkok I found it easy to believe that the supporters intended for their protest to be a peaceful one (btw – I quit at the symbolic blood spilling as I don’t do blood).

Banners stating สันติ วิธี (the peaceful way) were found everywhere on Red Shirt banners, trucks, vans, t-shirts and hats even. Both in English and in Thai. And the Thais I talked to insisted the same – that theirs was to be a peaceful protest.

At the parades, well-to-do Bangkokians stopped me in the streets to explain why they and their friends, all Yellow Shirt supporters, had decided to show support for the Red Shirt cause. Now, as an expat, I don’t have a dog in this political fight. But some of the reasons they stated – the need for improved education, financial support from the government, and respect – made sense to me too.

But when Terry Fredrickson started translating what the Red Shirt leaders were saying on stage at Ratchaprasong, well, there you have it.

In that very same email I was asked if expats knew what the Red Shirts leaders were saying. I imagine a great deal of expats were unaware, but were Thais? And (shamefully), even though I was reading along with Terry, I kept their peaceful promise at the fore. I wrongly assumed that the leaders were similar to football coaches. You know what I mean, where they excite their teams with pep talks dripping with: kill, kill, kill, die, die, die. But football players are not expected to kill anything. Much.

And now I’m wondering what those very same Bangkokians were thinking when they heard the Red Shirt leaders incite their followers to kill Thai soldiers and burn down Bangkok. And if they still feel the same as they professed to me. I know I don’t. I still want what is best for all Thais, but I feel betrayed.

Do any of Red Shirts feel the same? Betrayed? And for the same reasons as I do?

The Red Shirts camps at Ratchaprasong are gone and the rains have mostly washed the smoke from the burning tires away. But not quite. I drove to Paragon on Thursday and my lungs started coughing up gunk the following day. It’s especially bad when I laugh. Yeah.

The staff at Paragon welcomed everyone back with what seemed to be brighter Thai smiles. At the entrance to Paragon’s Gourmet Market we received the Thai ไหว้ /wâi/ and were handed aromatic garlands (พวงมาลัย /puang maa-lai/). All through my shopping, canned announcements warned against leaving carts unattended, asking shoppers to please report suspicious behaviour.

So is this the new signs of the times in Bangkok?

There are many unanswered questions even now (and some I cannot ask). Important questions like: Who were the mysterious snipers, were Red Shirt guards (or anyone in power) stopping the supporters from leaving Ratchaprasong, will Thais ever start talking to Thais, will all sides admit where they went wrong, will Thaksin ever be brought back, and finally… what direction will Thailand choose to go in now? Because there is always a choice.

I’m wondering if these important questions will get answered if the insistence on online censorship continues. Personally, I shake at the mention.

Well, whatever happens next in Thailand certainly won’t be boring (even without the protests, it never is). But it might just be too much excitement for me. I’ve since lost my passion for taking photos of what I see around me in Thailand. And this, from a gal with a new 7D. Sad (I know, I know… and I plan to work on my newly negative attitude).

And that’s my last word on Thai politics. Edgewise.

If you’d like to help Thailand in even the smallest way, please consider donating to Thai education via the SET Foundation. If you don’t know about the foundation, there are two posts about SET on WLT: Inciting Acts of Kindness: The SET Foundation and The SET Foundation: A Season for Giving Back.

And if you’ve stopped by WLT to see the most amazing collection of free resources for learning the Thai language instead of reading about Thai politics, then you’ve come to the right place: Learn Thai for FREE.

Note: The comments are open in this post, but I will be watching carefully for several reasons: Mudslinging and political rants bore me, and I do not want WLT to get closed down by the Thai government. So play nice everyone.

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Inciting Acts of Kindness: The SET Foundation

Making Merit in Thailand

Giving back and RAKing sans sin…

Christians are really big on the concept of sin. Also quite popular is the atoning for sins by doing good.

Ok, for Catholics, the rosary is supposed to come into it, but I grew into my own way of thinking. By the time I was in my 20’s, giving back had taken over twirling beads (not that I was ever much into jewelry).

Later, RAKing become the craze. And as I’m an impulsive animal, I took to RAKing.

Here’s how it works: “RAKing“ is carrying out a Random Act of Kindness. You’ll feel great for doing it, your recipient will love it, and everyone who reads about it will get a warm fuzzy feeling.

When I started RAKing, it was not about anyone finding out. Hit and run kindness was more like it. But back then, there was *GASP* no Internet. And these days, instead of hiding our intentions, using technology to incite further acts of kindness makes more sense.

Acts of kindness on the Internet can break out most anywhere. The ThaiVisa discussion, Sick Friend, is one recently on my mind.

Making merit comes full circle…

Thailand has its own version of giving back called making merit. And same as in the west, the Thai act of giving usually involves getting something in return. I’ve grown to expect warm and fuzzy feelings and tax breaks. But in Thailand, it also depends on the what as well as the who:

Talen (Thailand Land of Smiles – no longer online):

  • If you offer rice or any staple food, you will be happy and healthy all through your life.
  • If you offer clothing, in your next life, you won’t have a problem with clothing and will also have beautiful skin.
  • If you offer candles, flashlight and incense sticks you will have beautiful and bright eyes. Also, in your next life you will not need glasses.
  • If you offer a Buddha image, in your following life you will be as beautiful as that image.
  • If you offer religious books or donate text books and learning materials for school children, you will be intelligent in your next life.
  • If you offer soap, skin lotion or cleansing facilities, you will have nice and beautiful skin.
  • If you donate money and materials for constructing buildings in the monastery, you will have a big and beautiful house in your next life.
  • If you build bathrooms and toilets for the monastery and help to build public hospitals, you will have a healthy and happy life.
  • If you offer toothpicks, toothbrushes and toothpaste, you will have beautiful and strong teeth.
  • If you donate blood, kidney or other part of your body, you will have a fit body and vigorous health in your future lives.

During a discussion about Thai sayings and making merit, Benjawan sent over three proverbs from her CD, Speak Like a Thai Vol. 3: Thai Proverbs and Sayings:

บุญมา วาสนาส่ง
bun maa · wâat-sà-năa sòng
With good merit, power and fortune will come.

ทำดีได้ดี ทำชั่วได้ชั่ว
tam dee dâi dee · tam chûa dâi chûa
As ye sow, so shall ye reap.
Literally: Do good get good; do bad get bad.

ให้ทุกข์แก่ท่าน ทุกข์นั้นถึงตัว
hâi túk gàe tâan · túk nán tĕung dtua
What goes around comes around.
Literally: Give others suffering, that suffering comes back to you.

I quite like the full circle concept of it all. Just think about it: If an action is going to come back to bite you in the butt, a positive is better than a negative. Correct?

And (drumroll), referring back to Talen’s post, I quite like the idea of contributing to the education of Thai school children.

Inciting acts of kindness at the SET Foundation…

Last Monday was my birthday. Yeah. Bad timing. I did get the coveted 7D, but when asked what else I could suggest as a gift, I chose giving back to Thai students instead. Reason: Like many westerners, I have plenty of stuff. Also, operating with a ‘something comes in, something needs to go out’ policy makes getting more stuff a challenge (pssst: Anyone on the market for a secondhand KISS?)

Ok. Do you remember back in December, when I wrote about Peter Robinson’s SET Foundation? This post is along the same concept, but for a different season.

SET paypalWhen I donated at Christmas, I discovered that 5000 baht will pay for one school semester for a Thai college or uni student. But the problem with the onetime donation is that you give, you feel all warm and fuzzy, and then you forget. I do anyway.

So when I went to donate this time, I noticed the drop-down menu on SETs paypal button. Sweet. So now I get the warm and fuzzy automatically. Every month.

Also, by selecting monthly, I don’t get a chunk taken out all at once. By spreading the donation over the year, I can give more. And there you have it. Logic, Cat style ;-)

I’m not sure when Benjawan’s birthday is, but she has decided to incite acts of kindness in the direction of the SET Foundation too. How about you?

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The SET Foundation: A Season for Giving Back

Phra Farang

Peter Robinson and the SET Foundation…

For those interested in reading about the life of a monk in Thailand, Phra Farang (written by a former farang monk), is a worthwhile read.

There are many excellent book reviews and interviews around, so I won’t do a repeat here. Yet.

What I’d like to focus on instead is the remarkable SET Foundation, created by Peter Robinson.

And most impressive about SET is the money angle.

Every Baht you give goes directly to help our students: SET has very low overheads and administration costs – no staff wages, no office rental costs, no staff vehicles and no fundraising expenses. In 2008, less than 3% of income was spent on administration.

When I worked corporate, we were all encouraged to donate to United Way.

United Way organizations typically suffer from an administrational overhead of 10%-20% instead of 5%-15% that many other well-known charities have.

Some workplaces that donate money to UW do not follow commonly used ethical procedures when soliciting donations.

Employees may be pressured into donating through peer pressure tolerated or even encouraged by management.

I was one of those employees. And ever since, I rarely donate cash to established organisations such as the United Way. I offer of my time and skills to smaller charities instead.

But with the SET Foundation, I will make an exception.

About SET…

The SET Foundation has a very specific aim: to make a difference. That difference is between a youngster being able to study at a vocational college or university, or instead having to labor in the rice paddies, on a Bangkok building site, or in some other mundane, dead-end job.

By giving scholarships and other practical support, SET is making the difference for an increasing number of disadvantaged Thai students. We’ve been doing it for fifteen years. We do it voluntarily, enthusiastically and very cost-effectively.

More than 3,000 students have already benefited from our Scholarship Program. Hundreds more have benefited from our Student Welfare Program, receiving cash grants to pay for uniform, books, tools, bus fares, lunch or dormitory accommodation.

To see where your donations go, check out: What does it cost to make the difference?

500 baht (US$15) will buy a pair of school shoes.

5,000 baht (roughly US$150) will cover one semester for a college or university student (accommodation, food and bus fares included).

PS: They even accept Paypal :-)

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