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September, 2016

Dear Meryl,

Ah, sponsorship has real benefits! Those precious degrees of separation!

For the past few days, Warm Heart has been paralyzed by an epidemic of the 72-hour bug – fevers, tummy troubles, droopy, weepy, sweaty kids everywhere. It has not been pretty.

It could have been worse. The mosquitos have been awful and we all feared dengue. Four loads of kids – every vehicle we own – made off to the hospital, but the blood tests came back negative. The kids felt no better, but we sighed a huge sigh of relief.

The hospital visit, however, triggered a return visit by everyone who is anybody in the district from the Nai’Ampure – the head honcho himself – to representatives from the hospital, central public health, local public health and the school district. What was wrong at Warm Heart? Luckily, there had been another outbreak elsewhere. It was merely an investigative expedition, not inquisitorial, one that left as puzzled as when it arrived.

We are just happy to see more and more kids mustering for the school buses!

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About Koon

Koon is a dark horse. I think that she has extraordinary potential, but she is very, very hard to read. There are terrible family problems we don’t know anything about. Over the years that she has been here, she has moved further away from the friends with whom she arrived from the village, but hasn’t made lasting friendships to replace them. Her school work is good and I am actively seeking ways to open her eyes to careers beyond the mountains.

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I should not make too much of everybody getting sick. It has been a remarkable year for everyone at Warm Heart, truly remarkable.

Nit, our eldest, finished her second year of university in Bangkok and departed for an internship in Turkey. Her travels will take her on to Tiblisi, Georgia and to Belgium. New, our most recent university entrant has just finished a strong first year in languages – Chinese, Korean, French and English. Two of our boys received full scholarships to good vocational-technical schools, bringing to six the number of kids we have training in the trades.

Right now, all eyes are on high school. We have one senior who is contemplating what to study next year at university. What really worries us, however, is that we have seven – seven – 11th graders, every one a potential university student!

Ah, Warm Heart, casualty of its own success.

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And if this were all! The kids just keep coming. At the start of this school year, a lovely young woman joined us from our partner school where she finished 6th grade last year. Unlike Naan a year ago, who is the first person in her village to go beyond 6th grade, Lalita is just the first in her family to go beyond 6th grade – but like Naan, she will go far, far beyond. Then Pagu arrived. All by himself. He walked three days, by himself, to Warm Heart. We couldn’t say no. He has serious developmental disabilities and is subject to constant seizures, but no one else will take him and he is settling in, so here we are. Oh, and then last week the son of one of our most important partners in the mountains got tossed from his housing, so he just moved into our annex. Super mother, good kid who will be a good role model for our younger boys. We can handle it.

But all this is business – and I am proud of how well we do our job.

In all of this, however, what makes me happiest and proudest is the extraordinary feeling of family our kids have created at Warm Heart. Our kids do not come from happy places. Our kids do not come from happy homes. But Warm Heart does something special for them. A few days ago a visiting video team member commented on the “synchronized performance” of dinner and the multitude of intense conversations underway, the homework and cellphones being shared between the trays and the laughter.

It’s what I love most. I hope you can visit someday to experience it, too.

And, to you, thank you always for making all of this possible. You give your child and all of our children this wonderful home. Evelind and I love all of Warm Heart and all that we do. But from the very beginning we have made sure to build the Children’s Homes on a safe, separate financial foundation supported by you and other sponsors. No matter what happens to the rest of Warm Heart, no matter what happens to us, the Children’s Homes are secure, thanks to people like you. Thank you.

Michael Shafer
Warm Heart

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PS. And precisely because you are already doing so much, I feel I can ask a favor: could you please persuade a friend to sponsor a Warm Heart child? You are absolutely the best possible person to convince someone why sponsorship is important. Would you please try? Sponsorship is a wonderful holiday gift to a caring family member, a gift a family can give itself, a special assertion of faith for a group of friends, young or old, in a congregation at a church, mosque or temple. And a sponsorship is a wonderful living memorial for someone important. Please help us create new futures here in the mountains of North Thailand. Please visit and share our Children in Need of Sponsors page.

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2015

Michael says Koon is solid, not just broad shouldered, but the kind of person you can count on, no matter what.

Koon is solid, not just broad shouldered, but the kind of person you can count on, no matter what.

Journey to Warm Heart

Koon comes from Mae Soon, a remote Karen hill tribe village with no school.

Prior to her arrival at Warm Heart, like many children in her village, Koon walked five kilometers over a mountain and steep ravines in order to attend the closest school with instruction only in the Karen language.

Learning in Karen, as opposed to Thai, leaves hill tribe children linguistically isolated and ineligible for futures beyond the mountains of Northern Thailand.

Luckily, Koon’s father speaks Thai so she spoke Thai well when she arrived at Warm Heart. Her parents, who are tea farm laborers, wanted her to gain education past grade six and asked Warm Heart to take her in.

Today

Koon is happy to be at Warm Heart and takes advantage of every opportunity to learn.

She is often doing homework or spending time with the after school tutors.

She loves Facebook and the Internet access Warm Heart provides.

In school Koon’s favorite subject is English and hopes to become a nurse after high school.



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