Please Help the Refugee Kids-Edited

******Since I posted this last Thursday more than 2000 people have read this story. Some of them have made amazingly large donations, some have made modest sized donations, and some have made small donations. It every person had donated just $2 we would have raised more than $4000 so far for these kids. As it is we have raised quite a lot. So please don't make the mistake of not doing something, just because you can't do something really big. Every little bit helps.

Well, several sleepless nights later and there is a website up for The Charis Project, sort of. I have never done anything like this before. I don't know anything about HTML, anything at all. And yet for days on end I have been staring at strings of code and trying to figure out why all of my style sheets are suddenly MIA when I make changes (See, I know a jargon word now) and trying to get it to look pretty. My eyeballs feel like they are bleeding. I don't understand any of it, but after a while I start to see patterns. I'm treating it like magic. The HTML is happy if you don't disturb it too much. Just make sure all the lines match up and type type type copies of the one that looks the way you want it to, even though you don't know why, so that you can make the other ones looks that way too. It's very scientific. I am a blind man grasping the trunk of the elephant.

As you can imagine, it is far from complete. But I managed to hack the bare bones together and get a donate page running which is very important.


The GH leaves in just over a week. That means anyone who wants to send money to help Chala take care of the 30 refugee kids from Burma has one week to do so if they want him to get it this month. The GH will hand deliver whatever is donated to Chala when he meets him in Thailand in two weeks.

I'm not very good at fund raising. The last time I tried it, several years ago, it totally bombed. Really badly. That was before the advent of blogging though. Since I started this blog 2 years ago I have watched in awe as the power of this internet connection we have with people has worked to change things, in a good way. Of course, I don't have as many readers as a lot of people who have done some really great things for some really worthy causes. (Thank-you every one who does read, I love you. Mwah.) And this is a really worthy cause. So this is where I start begging. Will you please help me? Could you tell your readers about this and send them back here? Will you help me to spread the word. Chala and the kids live on so little right now, any thing that we can raise would be a huge blessing to them. I am constantly amazed by how wonderful and caring the people who read here are. You do some pretty amazing things in the course of your day some of you. I'm counting on you to come through on this.

 In the interest of keeping things fun I have prizes.

For every 30 people who leave a donation I will draw their names for one handmade Karen bag of your choosing. I have several that are about to go up for sale at the Tribal Goods Store on the website that I will build sometime in the next few weeks. You could get one first. You can even choose the color. They are very pretty, strong and comfortable to cart your stuff around in. I use mine for diapers. There are several that are even manly enough for guys. (Of course the Karen men favor hot pink, but we have more neutral colors for you guys here.) My husband, brother and brothers in law all use them and love them.

Also I will also draw for another bag out of a list of people who link back to this on their own blog, or e-mail it to all their friends if you don't have a blog. So if you want a second chance at winning a bag, link to this story and leave a comment to let me know. Your name will go into another draw.

So just to recap, in case you missed it the first time, this is what I'm raising money for.

A few months back my brother in law met a man in northern Thailand who used to be a member of the Shan Resistance Army. (Think the guide in Rambo 4.) They basically tried to protect themselves from the Burmese army who periodically would surround a village with heavy artillery and give them two hours to hand over all of their food, all of their pigs, and all of their women or they would open fire on everyone. This man, Chala, is now on the Thai side of the border. He took my brother in law through the jungle and showed him all of the places where he used to hide. Now he uses his knowledge to find kids in the jungle.

You may be wondering why exactly would he be wandering through the jungle along the border and looking for kids? Because they are there to find. They are usually orphans, they have been running to get away from the Burmese army. They have escaped and often witnessed the deaths of entire villages before they could get away. They head for the Thai border where they know they will be safe. Chala finds them and takes them in. He feeds them and gives them a place to sleep. Right now he has more than 40 kids. He's had to move them several times because he keeps running out of money. He does all this out of his own pocket. I get to figure out how to help him help them.

Right now he's only able to worry about keeping them alive, but there will be more to consider in the coming years. Ultimately they will need school and counseling and job training. They will need someone to help them grow up. They need someone to love them right now. They are excruciatingly poor. They sleep on a floor and eat whatever is cheapest to buy. It would take so little by our standards to take care of them properly.

In a few weeks we'll have the site up and anyone who wants to donate toward helping Chala and those kids will be able to do so. My husband will be meeting him the last week of August and will hand deliver any thing you give to him when he gets there.
So won't you please help? Ten US dollars is about 337 baht. A cheap restaurant meal in Thailand is only 33 baht. Which is about one dollar. A little bit would go a long way to getting these kids better food and housing. To make donation click here.


If anyone is able to make a widget or link button for a side bar and wanted to help me make one so that people can post it if they want please let me know. I'm sure it must be simple but my sleep deprived brain is too fried right now to think about it. My husband is getting up for work right now and I have yet to go to bed. Love ya.


  1. Great job on the website! I already donated and will post links on both of my blogs too.
    Those bags are beautiful!!

  2. looking good carrien! I wish i would have known you were designing and i would have offered to help. i do a lot of web design and graphic design lately! (been building our impact niger site but its not live yet) Lova ya! trying to donate but paypal and my niger internet connection are having a lovers quarrel.

  3. All linked up! :)
    What about a Facebook network/group? I think they're fairly easy to set up... Just an idea.

  4. MoneyDummy3:35 PM

    How much of our donations will ultimately go to actually providing food and shelter for the children? For instance, if I donate 100.00, what THINGS (how many meals, how many beds, how much clothing,) will a child or children receive?

  5. I have posted the link to your website on my blog. I don't have a large readership, but I figure that it can't hurt. Prayers are coming your projects way.

  6. Please post an update when that store is running. I cannot wait to buy one of those bags! All summer I have cursed my backpack, with the sweaty straps and excess weight as I trudge to work and home. I've wanted a new bag but never got around to finding one, and apparently I was just waiting to see your blog!

    Also, I did a drive-by read of your blog and loved what I saw. I think that not being able to become a cop in SoCal and instead going to Thailand is probably a spectacular outcome, one of those huge blessings dressed in disaster. I'm a subscriber now, really looking forward to following your story.

    Thanks for caring! Always a pleasure to tip my hat to another like-minded compassion fiend.

  7. Good idea Tamra I'll look into it.

    Moneydummy-I hate to say "I don't know" but that is the answer a little. Chala and the kids live very communally. They share a space and meals. They share clothes. We trust Chala to use any money given him to go where they need it most. Their situation isn't very stable. Every month it's a struggle to pay the rent and groceries. They have had to move several times because of not enough money. I am hoping that we can send enough to help them pay for food and rent for the next 5 months until we can get to Thailand and help in person. I don't think he would even consider buying beds. That would be an unheard of luxury at this point.

    I have sent him an email asking him your question. It may take a while for an answer as he doesn't have regular internet access. I will post his reply when I have it.

    Thanks for your interest.

  8. If I can figure out how (not so web-savvy myself) I'll be posting a link on my MySpace page since it's the only blog I have.

  9. Wow -- great post and great idea.

    Just saw your blog for the first time. Curious -- which two of the three are you? I got that you are a mom. But are you a counselor or anthropologist?

    (I'd be happy if you wrote the answer to my email:

    Good luck with your fundraising efforts.

    If I can figure out how to link to this post, I will. (maybe this will motivate me to finally learn how to do that)

  10. Hey, babe. I just put a link in my blog (not many readers, but one could change it all!) and posted a bulletin and blog on myspace. Shall we do a facebook thing?

  11. MoneyDummy5:29 PM

    Carrien: Of course, but what I'm wondering is how much of the money we donate will actually get to him for the use of the kids?

  12. moneydummy- I'm sorry. I misunderstood the question. I thought you were looking for a cost break down.

    All of it will go to help the kids. (Except for the percentage that paypal charges us to accept payment through them.) We are doing this all volunteer. There is no overhead at this point. OKay, there is, but it's coming out of our pocket, and the pockets of a few people we know personally that are supporting it. All the money collected here is going straight to Chala.

  13. Hi Carrien,

    I came here from Crystal's blog. What you're trying to do is great. I made a little donation.
    And the website looks professional - you've inspired me to start on my website now :)

  14. Embejo1:23 AM

    Keep up the good work! Don't get discouraged! You ARE making a difference.
    I've donate and will link properly when my project has died down a bit.


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