An Elephant Story Update
From Ban Ta Klang, Thailand.
It has been some time since we have given an update regarding our educational efforts in Ban Ta Klang Village, Surin Province, which is home to some 300 elephants and comes with the distinction of having the most domesticated Asian elephants in one place in the world. Moreover, these elephants are privately owned and have been raised by the villagers whose history with elephants extends back to almost the beginning of time. The Elephant Story has provided financial support to the education of the children of the village since our beginning, along with support to a veterinarian to look after the health of the elephants.
Our concept is to have accomplished English teachers teach English to improve the odds of the students passing entrance exams into university. It is the single greatest hurdle for most Thai students to enter university to advance their education. These children face an additional difficulty in that, as an indigenous ethnic group they have their own language, though most can speak acceptable Thai. Our objective is to improve their economic outlook to improve their lives and that of their elephants. As the elephants of the village are their families, we share that feeling with these villagers.
The force behind this effort is Khru Oh who is shown below on my left. Her smile is symptomatic of her energy and enthusiasm. Moreover, she is a force unto herself. With all the Covid difficulties, I was a bit slow in determining our level of support for this calendar year. In fact, John Roberts who is our spiritual leader as the head of the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, said he would understand if we could not step up. However, we made it work and it all came together and there was an outpouring of emotion from Khru Oh, Khun Patcharee Jaengvong, and our instructors—Maricel Ballon and Rachel Mae Alberca. I was particularly relieved that Khru Oh would not be out looking for me with fire in her eyes, as I dodged another bullet.
Khun Maricel and Khun Rachel Mae contributed the following images regarding their activities in the beginning of this school term.
The integration of elephants, education and Buddhism are quite strong in this village. Below is an image of the Thai teachers preparing the Spirit House on the school grounds for a group of Buddhist monks that will be visiting.
Each of the tables below contain provisions that will be offered to the monks who will be arriving shortly.
The monks, shown below, have arrived to enable the students and teachers to make merit by providing the monks food provisions.
Later in the classroom, Khun Maricell, has begun her lesson for the day. Above the TV monitor you will note the Thai flag on the left, the image of the Buddha in the center and on the right, the King of Thailand.
The younger students shown below should capture your hearts.
The last image from the village is one of my favorites. There is a lot of history and wisdom reflected in the mahout’s eyes as well as those of his elephant. The mother’s baby elephant is tied to her as they have gone out for a stroll and a bath in one of the streams.
Helping these folks and their elephants is a good way for all of us to make merit.
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