I'm married to a Thai national and we recently moved to Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai, Thailand in order to help my wife's parents and the local farming community.
My in-laws are typical Thai farmers who work merely to eat; life here is extremely basic. The dwelling above is what they live in on the farm. It has no running water, sanitation or electricity.
Their average annual income is less than $4,000; for this they work 18 hours a day of which essentially proves nothing more than for food.
My wife and I are not exactly well-off; our total savings of $5,000 has already been used to make some improvements to their very small farm which consists of approximately 2.5 acres.
We're now looking to raise 250,000 Thai Baht (approx. $7,500) in order to:
- Improve the house so that it is at least weather proof. This will include fixing the roof, walls and floors and installing sanitation including a shower and toilet.
- Build a new duck and chicken enclosure and purchase 200 ducks and 200 chickens - these will be free range and provide eggs that can be consumed with the surplus being sold to the locals at a price they can afford.
- Build a pig sty and purchase four pigs. These will be used for breeding and provide for meat.
- Extend the fish pond. Currently their is a small fish pond with some stock; these are used to provide for food but the current size only permits for harvesting one or two fish per month. Essentially the plan is to triple the size of the pond and stock it with fish that can be consumed with the surplus being sold at the local market.
- Improve access to the farm. Currently the farm is only accessible by walking. We would like to build a gravel driveway so that the pick-up truck can transport feed and other essentials to the farm; currently it involves having to carry all the essential equipment and feed which is back-braking work for a couple in their late 50's.
The image above is of the in-law erecting a make-shift duck / chicken enclosure for the half dozen ducks and chickens they currently own. It's not exactly ideal as stray dogs often break in and kill the livestock. As suggested above we would like to extend this for them and build it to a standard where it is secure.
The photo above is my father-in-law preparing to cast the net so that food can be put on the table. As suggested above the plan is to triple the size of this pond and stock it so that they can eat fish on a regular basis and provide for a cheap food source for the local community.
Image above - most of the land consist of rice farming. This involves manually planting and harvesting the rice. It is possible to hire machinery and labour to harvest the rice but for most rice farmers this is simply not affordable; part of the funds will be used to harvest this seasons rice and hopefully with the sale of eggs, fish, chickens and ducks the next season should be more sustainable in terms of funding future projects and mechanical harvesting methods.
Image above - the in-laws started to build a pig sty but could not afford to finish it. It really is a bit basic and needs to be bigger so that the pigs have a better quality of life when they are purchased.
Free range is better ... while it is the plan to use the livestock for food it is, in our view, essential that the livestock have a happy life and can roam free to an extent. Currently this is not possible as the ducks and chickens have a tendency to eat the rice and not just in their farm but in others - obviously the other farmers are none to pleased about this so part of the funds will be used to construct extended enclosures where the livestock has more room to roam about and find shade in the summer heat.
My Personal View
My wife and I have exhausted our savings in order to help but much more, as you can see from the details and images, needs doing.
My wife and I intend to stay here and help out on the farm as the in-laws really need the additional help. Life here is extremely basic as you can see from the dwelling above but it is truly stunning and provides for a very peaceful life.
Due to current Thai Laws it is almost impossible for me to work; that is getting a job in say a supermarket is out of the question as such jobs are protected and the Work Permit process is extremely time consuming and difficult.
In order to help sustain ourselves I have launched a website - http://bucksme.com - essentially it's a discount shopping portal listing thousands of products from over 300 retailers. I generate an income when people click the link and make a purchase; essentially it's commission based.
If you cannot donate but would like to help then please visit my website and share it on your social networks or better use it to buy the things you need or want. The income from this website will certainly help us to sustain ourselves and use any surplus funds to improve the situation for the farm and my in-laws.
September 9, 2016 ... Ducks!
Yay! We have some ducks! There are no 'Yellow Pages' up here so we headed out searching around all the small farms looking for someone who had ducks for sale. It's just a case of asking locals as everything is pretty much achieved by word-of-mouth.
After 5 hours of searching we found someone with 400 ducks and was willing to sell us 80 ducks. With the funds raised so far we paid for all 80 of them ... so happy!
These ducks will produce eggs that we can sell on the local markets and provide to the local community at a reduced price in order to help them save money.
Photo Above: The in-laws built a duck enclosure to house all the ducks. This will help prevent stray dogs from attacking and eating them.
Photo Above: The ducks are fed a mixture of corn and banana tree; we mix this ourselves to ensure they are reared naturally.
Well that's the latest update. Thank you to everyone for your support ... long way to go but it's an excellent start.