By Anne Bannister

Friends Jackaporn and Lalita smile shyly for the camera. Both girls stay at Ton Roong School on weekends thanks to sponsorship through Warm Heart.

Education has always been a key focus for Warm Heart but the impact of the work in this field is now expanding.  Warm Heart’s Children’s Homes are at full capacity caring for 40 kids.  So in order to extend their reach in providing hill tribe children with access to schooling, Warm Heart has developed a new partnership with Ton Roong School.  

Ton Roong school

Ton Roong is a government boarding school in Phrao for grades K to 6 run by a caring staff that recognizes the school’s potential for growth.  While the school can hold 300
students, currently only 103 are enrolled.

Some of Ton Roong’s students

Colorful interior of school

Most of the students at Ton Roong come from hill tribe villages surrounding Phrao Valley.  Many of these villages are too far away for the children to return home on the weekends, but the school can only provide care for the kids five days a week.  In partnering with Ton Roong, Warm Heart is providing caregivers, meals and teachers during the weekend for the boys and girls who can’t return home. Thanks to this program, 19 children can now attend school who would otherwise have received no schooling at all.

Dorm room 

These residential students participate in cleaning, cooking, and gardening – developing important life skills, while also getting in a healthy dosage of play. Warm Heart’s staff plans to help with recruitment efforts to bring more students to Ton Roong, providing access to as many kids as possible to formal schooling and a chance at a better future. Planning is also underway to provide a path for residential students beyond 6th
grade like Naen.

Naen

Culaporn, or Naen as she is nickednamed, graduated from Ton Roong last year and now lives at the Children’s Home.  She is the first person from her village to graduate from the 6th grade, a monumental accomplishment.  Naen, best described as poised and self-possessed, is now in 7th grade at Mae Pang School. Not only is she a good student, but she’s also an even better athlete. As captain of the girl’s volleyball team, Naen’s a natural leader both on and off the field.  

So many of the boys and girls have equally powerful stories.  Unfortunately there isn’t enough capacity at the Children’s Home for all of the amazing kids coming through Ton Roong.  Therefore Warm Heart has set up a partnership with Mae Pang school and is planning to renovate an old dorm at Mae Pang to house the boys and girls who graduate from Ton Roong as they continue their education into middle school. 

While the Children’s Homes will always provide a home and intensive love and care for the kids most in need, Warm Heart’s partnership with local schools will pave the road to education for a much larger cohort of kids – some of who, like Naen, will be representing an entire village in their achievements.

(Anne Bannister spent six months as a Warm Heart volunteer in 2012 and returned for a short visit this winter)