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The First Congress for People with Special Needs in Thailand “Together we go”

          “Do not lose faith in yourself” said the autistic young man to all the participants of the first congress for people with special needs in Thailand. This sentence is still echoed in my heart though the congress has ended for two weeks. Long ago that I have not uttered the word “Faith” to myself. His message awakened something inside me…faith in life, in society and in humanity

          Looking back to all preparatory work from August 2011- February 2012, the frequently asked questions were….
          “Will people with special needs understand the concept and content of the congress? ”
          “Will it worth to organize such an event for them?”
          “Will there be enough financial support for at the moment people would love to donate money for the flood victims?
          “There have been many projects and initiatives for people with special needs but most of them have no continuation. What is your future plan after such event?”

          Though there were many doubts about the congress but finally 111 people who have “ Faith ” participated in the first congress of Thailand. It is held at Wangree Resort, Nakhon Nayok province where we were embraced by mountains and tropical forest.

          The Theme of the first congress was “Gow pai duay gan “ which is literally translated into “ step forward together” or “ Together we go ”. Behind the theme there’s a hope and faith that we Thai people can come together again no matter how different in thoughts we are. Since we have faced many challenges from the unexpected Tsunami in 2004.The coup in 2006 which led to bloodshed demonstration in 2009 -2010 leaving behind is the political conflict which separated people into Red and Yellow group and more than the recent flood in 2011.

          At least on 17-19 Feb.2012, 111 people have taken a new step together to heal each other and heal our society.

          The congress was designed to meet the needs of whole human being. The first day Was the first step to nourish the physical body and the etheric body. As part of the opening ceremony, we did Yoga together on green grasses and welcomed all participants by “Bai Sri” a traditional soul welcoming ceremony of Thailand. The atmosphere was quiet and healing for every soul who came from near and far.

          The second day was aimed mainly to nourish the astral body. Starting by lecture from Thomas Kraus. he showed us photos and slides from previous congresses. It seemed like window to the world for many of our participants. After tea break, we step into art with 5 different workshops. There were Yoga, Thai boxing, drama, music and painting. In the afternoon, we step into nature at Wangtakrai Waterfall. This step helped strengthen friendship among all participants, volunteers, observers and staffs. Hand in hand, we carefully helped each other to come across our fear and learn to let go in the flowing water!

          The cultural night was full of colors and all were excited to see every contribution from every group. The 51 people who came from various institutes and background are all artists! Thai traditional dances, contemporary dances, pop dance
and Thai folk tale in Eurythmy were woven together harmoniously through 2 hours of laughter and happiness. The end of the night was Thai circle dance, a common dance which had a true sense of community.

          The third day was aimed mainly to nourish the Ego. There was panel discussion On the topic of “Long life learning”. Four participants from different background were on the stage to share their struggle, hope and perspectives in life. WE felt very thankful for their contributions that gave lots of inspiration to others.

          The last session was evaluation and closing ceremony. Everything was simple but touching for we had a chance to hear the messages which were pure, truthful and straight to the point in an honest way. Also the simple drawing of each group made We realized that the drawing of people with smiling faces, sun, mountains and trees were very important for all.

          We all wished to meet and take the next step together.
          We all wished to include the participants from the north, northeast and south of Thailand in the next congress.
          We all wished to spend more days together, learning more in workshop.

          The two coaches had left for Bangkok. The hall was empty. The green yard was quiet. The sound of laughter and good bye were gone. What left inside me was beautiful memory of…….

          Someone who walked around finally sit down with new friends on the last day. Someone who never smiled finally had a gentle smile on his face.
          Someone who was very quiet finally came up on stage and turned into a great dancer.
          Someone who loved to sit still stood up and walked across the slippery rocks across the waterfall.
          Someone who could hardly organise herself turned into a self responsible woman and lent her hands to others when needed.
          Last but not least, someone who applied on the last minute came up in front of all participants on the evaluation forum and said….
          “I decided to participate in the congress and wondered if I can manage to be with all of you for 3 days. I am fighting with myself, I am struggling but finally I make it. Do not lose faith in yourself…..Have faith in yourself.”

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PS. Deepest Thanks to…..

  • Our friends with special mission in life < 51 of them aged 16- 33 yrs.>that lead us to meet as parents , teachers, carers, volunteers, observers and staffs of The first Congress in Thailand
    51 people come from…Governmental home for men and women with disabilities , Lighthouse Institue Foundation for Down syndrome people, Bangpoon vocational training centre, Tonrak Foundation for Children with special needs, Home of Aunty Rin training group, Centre for Autistic people of Ministry of social development and human Security.
  • Thomas Kraus for his beautiful initiative
  • Curative education and social therapy group, Thailand
  • Young Volunteers from Chulalongkorn University and Srinakarinwirot University for their dedications
  • All workshop leaders
  • Faculty of Education and Institue of Research and Development of special needs education, Srinakarinwirot University
  • Institute of Health promotion for people with disabilities, Ministry of Health
  • All donors both Thais and German friends.

Have Faith in Yourself, in your work, in society and in humanity!

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