Ben and Ten’s Tomato Village Learning Center (TVLC) has been providing English lessons to children in Huay Ma Kay Soam, Mae Hong Son province for 10 years. TVLC opened in 2004 after Child's Dream worked with Ben to build and fund a classroom and toilets. The school offers English lessons to the children of this poor and remote area of Northern Thailand to improve upon those taught at the local school.
Beginning in May 2014, Philanthropy Connections (PCF) found the necessary financial support so that the school could continue.
TVLC is located in a very remote mountainous area where the nearest big town, Mae Hong Son, is approximately 40 km away. Huay Ma Kay Soam and the surrounding villages comprises of people from five different ethnic groups, most of whom migrated from Burma due to the tenuous political situation. Many of these communities lack access to basic education, health care, income and employment.
For many families in Huay Ma Kay Soam opportunities to break the cycle of poverty are limited. Possessing good English language skills greatly increases the chances that children will successfully complete secondary education, find better jobs and gain more financial security for themselves and their families.
Whilst English lessons are available in Mae Hong Son for roughly 150 to 200 Baht for two hours, most families can neither afford to pay for the lessons nor the costs of transportation to and from Mae Hong Son. Having the school located in the village allows even the youngest children to attend, and being very affordable, makes it accessible to all children regardless of their family’s income. The school offers three different class levels so students can more smoothly transition from beginner’s level to advanced level and build up their English skills. Classes are held Monday through Friday for two hours after school with between 15 and 25 students per class.
Over 200 students have attended TVLC since 2004.
Students come from five ethnic groups.
Students are between 4 and 19 years of age.
The school can hold a maximum of 75 students per evening.
Exams are held periodically so students have the opportunity to move into more advanced classes.
By being equipped with good English language skills, children are more likely to successfully complete secondary school, have more opportunities to attend higher education and even university, and gain more stable future employment.
For those students living in Mae Hong Son province, tourism is one possible area for future employment. Working as a trekking guide, tour guide, in a restaurant, or running a guest house – all require some English to be able to interact with customers. There are also many NGOs working in the region, most of whom require some level of English. TVLC gives the children of Huay Ma Kay Soam the ability to open more doors to pursue higher education and find jobs, and thus a brighter future for themselves and their families.
TVLC welcomes English speaking volunteers to come and teach. Over the years more than 40 volunteers have come to the school, all of whom have been cared for and instructed directly by Ben and Ten. Food and accommodation are both available, allowing you to live in the village whilst you teach.
TVLC benefits from having volunteers because:
Native English speakers greatly assist with pronunciation and 'authentic' English.
Volunteers can teach about English/Western culture as well as language.
Volunteers bring fresh ideas and possible funds to make improvements or buy materials for the school.
Volunteers help raise awareness of the work being done by Ben and Ten.
If you are interested in volunteer work and teaching English, please contact Benjamin by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Oh and you can go trekking at the weekend! ☺