The Starfish Country Home School Foundation

The Starfish Home is a project of the Starfish Country Home School Foundation, which is completely funded by the Richard P. Haugland Foundation, an American private foundation.

The Starfish Home opened in May 2006 in a brand new 80-room apartment house in the southern part of the city of Chiangmai. Chiangmai is the second largest city in Thailand with a population of about one million people. It is the site of approximately 1.3 million tourist visits a year.

The Starfish Home is the site of three interrelated projects:

* The Starfish Home, a residence and, for some, school for needy children, most of whom are hill tribe children.
* A day care project for local children under six years old to permit their parents to work.
* The Starfish Girls, a project for needy matayom 3 (9th grade in high school) and matayom 4 girls who are already exceptional students to teach them fluent English, use of computers and personal development.

The Starfish Home currently has about 28 resident children and 16 day care children. Some of the resident children at the Starfish Home now attend nearby traditional Thai elementary schools. Those who do not attend Thai schools attend classes at the Starfish Home that are taught by Thai-speaking teachers. The intention is to educate all of the children to achieve maximum achievement and classes at the Starfish Home are principally in Thai language. However, younger children also receive life skills training and all children get some English language skills. Opening of the Starfish Home permits the Starfish Country Home School Foundation to accept new children based more on their personal needs rather than on their projected academic potential.

The Starfish Girls project is a project that the Starfish Country Home School Foundation that started in September 2006. The intention is to identify high school girls age about 14 or 15 who already excel academically and in English classes but who come from needy or abusive family situations and to make them fluent in all forms of English communication, to learn the use of computers, to provide cultural and travel opportunities and to improve their personal lives and social skills. The Starfish Girls project is only a weekend, non-residential program for local girls. English-speaking female mentors and conversation partners are particularly sought for this new program. Seven of the ten girls in the first class of Starfish Girls have continued for a second year and the Starfish Girls project accepted 10 additional girls who started in August 2007. Those students who continue to excel in high school will be supported to attend university.

The site of the Starfish Home is a brand new apartment house in the southern part of the city of Chiangmai. It is an attractive four-storey building. Three classrooms have been created on the main floor plus a family room, kitchen and offices. Each room has an attached bathroom with hot water showers. The Starfish Home has cable internet installed. Residents can eat free in the central courtyard. The regular staff of the Starfish Home includes managers, administrators, teachers, social workers, care givers, cooks, drivers and others. A new playground with swimming pool opened in July 2007 for staff, children in the Starfish Home and local young children.

The Starfish Home has a mostly Thai staff, although some speak English. However, positions for full-time or part time interns and volunteers are usually available. International visitors can teach their special skills such as art, crafts, music, dance, theatre, games, cooking, photography, sports, rock climbing, juggling, science, or whatever else interests them. However, for continuity it is usually required that the full-time interns and volunteers can stay for at least three months. If required, the Starfish and Wildflower Home can provide accommodations, food and a stipend of 4000 baht (about $130 US) a month for incidental expenses to full-time volunteers who stay at least three months. Inexpensive private accommodations are available nearby too. Volunteers who stay at least six months can receive reimbursement of up to $800 to cover their initial travel costs. This is a great cultural and learning opportunity for a mature motivated individual.

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