The impact has been so severe that without support, the St Euphrasia BanYa Literacy Centre (SEBLC) will be shut down, explains Sarha Robinson, co-founder of Phuket SWAPSHOP.
The Good Shepherd Charity which directly supports the school and its 200-plus students, receives stocks of clothes and goods from communities in and around Phuket and from monthly SWAPSHOP events. Much-needed goods are then distributed to underprivileged people and are also sold in their thrift shop in Thalang, to again raise money for the school, Sarha explains.
“The school and the Burmese community depend heavily on this amazing work from the hardworking Sisters at the Good Shepherd and the caring community, but like many others they are now in dire need of financial support for over 200-plus children to receive care and education at the centre,” she says.
Yoana Vastree Estevez, also a co-founder of Phuket SWAPSHOP, notes, “Phuket’s economy is built on tourism and its beautiful resorts continue to be built by our community of Burmese migrant workers. The BanYa Centre offers hope to these kids to be educated and get a better chance at life. We cannot stand by and watch as the school is struggling to keep its doors open. In these difficult times we all have to step in and together we can support them and definitely make a difference.”
Phuket SWAPSHOP offers everyone in the community an opportunity to help the school by attending the ‘Christmas Extravaganza’ event on Saturday (Dec 12). People can help and support by donating in different ways.
“Our SWAPSHOP events are a free market and we love the phrase SWAP don’t shop, there is literally plenty to go around,” says Sarha. “People come with their pre-loved treasures from home and drop them off at the venue so that our volunteers can distribute all the goods on big tables for everyone to see and take. There is no limit as to what you bring in and what you take home! We only ask that you are considerate of others, especially the charities.
“At the end of every event we always have hundreds of items left ready to take to the Good Shepherd to again be distributed among the poorer areas in Phuket,” she adds.
In addition to swapping and donating items, there will also be donation boxes available for those who do not bring anything to SWAP or would like to give a little extra to support the school.
“We understand that everyone is struggling at the moment,” says Yoana. “The beauty of the SWAPSHOP is that you give what you can. We are grateful for any amount of donation, even a B10 coin – all the small bits together will create a large amount. It reflects our community, all individuals connected make a powerful and loving group of people.”
At the event this Saturday will be a performance of the BanYa children’s choir and a charity raffle offering great prizes with all proceeds going towards the BanYa school.
“If you think it ends here, you clearly haven’t been to a SWAPSHOP yet,” smiles Sarha. “There will be live music, access to the pool and beach, our DJ from Ibiza, a special Christmas menu, massage therapy and an artisan market! As if that’s not enough, we have thrown in an after-party too.”
The artisan market will showcase products from 10 different creative souls who each design beautiful and affordable handmade products such as macrame, home decorations, gifts, essential oils and other delightful creations that anyone would love to find under their Christmas tree, Sarha adds.
“Phuket SWAPSHOP stands for charity, community support and sustainability. As members of the ANRFC Andaman Natural Resource and Conservation Foundation for the south of Thailand, we are so grateful to be connecting with like-minded people on the island who are passionate and driven towards sustainability,” says Yoana.
“For example, the wonderful Whale Tail Phuket community who work on protecting marine wildlife will be promoting their amazing work at the Christmas Event. This is an organisation run by Alena Kondratieva who makes new products out of marine plastics, both washed up and those they have done dives for. Her work is absolutely fantastic here in Phuket,” she adds.
Phuket SWAPSHOP is growing rapidly. “It is overwhelming how many people are reaching out to us to be part of the SWAP FAMILY” explains Sarha.
“We can do so much for the community by bringing people together and shedding light on forgotten causes. We need to share, give and help each other – now more than ever!” adds Yoana.
Would you like to be part of the Phuket SWAPSHOP team? We are always looking for volunteers to lend a hand at events! Are you a local business and would you like to contribute to a good cause? You can donate special prizes for the raffle – all proceeds will go to the Banya Literacy Centre! To reach out, you can send a message through their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/phuketswapshop or by sending an email: email@example.com