November 28, 2015
We’re on the move once again! Today we traveled from Chiang Mai to a small town named Mae La Noi and then even further to the peak of a mountain, on top of which sits Pa Dang Luang Village – the site of the first Live Like Ben project!
In 2011, Ben arrived in this very village with a mesh bag full of brand new soccer balls and English school books for the kids. As usual, his smile and spirit stuck in the heads of the village people, and when Tara, Tyler, Chris, Mike, and Kenny arrived last May they were blessed to discover that Ben had been in this very spot, played with these very kids, and left a permanent mark on the hearts of the people there. As such, they decided that this was the right spot for the Foundation to build their very first school.
Today we were welcomed by the Governor of the village, project contractors, and the leaders of Pa Dang Luang. We explored the current buildings and began making plans for the new school. December 5th in Thailand is the King’s Birthday (Father’s Day), a holiday celebrated and revered nation-wide by the Thai people. After this, on December 8th, the project will begin!!!
Tara is very excited to have visited this site again today and to announce the start date of this project. Attached are a few photos of the village and the wonderful people who will be helping the Live Like Ben Foundation to fulfil this dream.
Christmas came early this year for the children of Pa Dang Luang as they had the pleasure of watching the very first Live Like Ben project, (otherwise known as their brand new school) begin this week!
Tara, Terry, Alex and Kenny ventured back up to the village to finalize details and construction of Ben’s first school has officially begun! Pa Dang Luang is a very small mountaintop village of less than 200 people, all of whom have come to say hi and watch this project get started. The kids are absolutely thrilled and the love on the top of that mountain is palpable.
The Foundation would like to officially introduce Alex Spidermonkey and Akkradet Kenny Chairak (Kenny) to all of you! Alex and Kenny are working closely with Tara and the Foundation to complete this first project, and have moved to Pa Dang Luang until the school is completed to oversee construction and assist in the organization of the project.
Kenny is a very talented architect from Chiang Mai who has become a dear friend and an incredible contributor to this project. Kenny is thrilled to be a part of the Live Like Ben Foundation and we are very lucky to have him!
Alex and Ben met in Railay, (Alex’s home town in Southern Thailand) many years ago and spent their time together tossing frisbees, spinning fire, and rock climbing. Alex is overjoyed to be taking part in this project for Ben, though he claims the 20 degree weather is giving him frost bite! (He’s used to a slightly warmer climate)!
We will continue to update all of you as this incredible journey takes place. Please enjoy the attached photos taken this week in Pa Dang Luang!
This week’s progress in Pa Dang Luang is unbelievable!
Concrete has been laid, beams have been put in their spots, and the outer structure of Ben’s first school is now set into place! This project is bringing countless smiles to countless faces, and as I said before, the love in this village and for this project is palpable. As the build continues, many of the villagers have come to visit, see its progress, and volunteer to help. The kiddos, excited to see their new school, are doing anything they can to get involved as well!
Tara and the Live Like Ben Foundation are SO excited to continue to share this journey with you all and will continue to do so 🙂
Please enjoy this week’s sneak peak and spread the love!
Signing off from the Land of Smiles, with love,
(This week’s photos taken by Alex Spidermonkey)
There’s a phrase we commonly use here in the Land of Smiles and that phrase is ‘Thai Time’. Thai Time dictates that one must relax and take it easy – things will happen a little more slowly than usual but that’s okay because everyone is happy! While the first Live Like Ben School started about a week after anticipated, it has developed at rocket speed ever since!
This week walls, door and window frames, and a roof were added to Ben’s first school. Tara and Terry are headed back in the direction of Pha Dang Luang school as we speak 🙂 Everything is coming together beautifully and Alex and Kenny feel lucky to have participated in this week’s ‘Children’s Day’, an annual celebration for kids in Thailand.
The excitement in the air is incredible and the opening date of this school is set for January 21st!
Please enjoy some photos from this week 🙂
Imagine a place where the day both starts and ends with the sound of children laughing and singing. The air is crisp and mountain fresh and the love is everywhere. Amongst the sounds of kiddos laughing, the faint sound of construction putters along in the background, and the children race about in excitement to see what addition has been made to their brand new school. Welcome to Pha Dang Luang!
Yesterday we ventured through the Northern Thai mountains back to Pha Dang Luang village, the site of the first Live Like Ben School! We had the opportunity to spend the day and check out Ben’s school, as well as watch the daily classes take place and were especially lucky to get some play time in with the beautiful children of the village!
Tara and the Foundation could not be more excited to share these progress photos with you all. The building is absolutely stunning and so well constructed. All that’s left is to paint and a few other finishing details before Ben’s School is officially open!
Please stay tuned for the opening ceremony COMING SOON!
Thank you to everyone for your continued love and support and with love to each and every one of you,
The kiddos gathered around the entrance to their brand new school, the railing wrapped in an enormous pink and blue ribbon. They were accompanied by their teachers, parents, village leaders and some brand new friends from across the world! They cheered as the ribbon was cut and their new school was officially open to explore. They laughed and smiled as they filled their desks with new books and pencils and were thrilled to put some animal stickers on the fresh new white walls.
They danced for us, dressed in their people’s traditional attire, only changing their clothes when it was time to bust out the new soccer balls to kick into the brand new soccer nets. They used their new chalk to express their sincere love and thanks to a special Rhino, Ben. They watched in awe (and maybe got an idea or two) as they observed their first Fire Show. They smiled and they laughed and we did too, all day…
…Ben’s School is OPEN.
It’s hard to put into words how magical this occasion was in Pha Dang Luang village. We are absolutely thrilled to share this video with you, a short story of the opening day of Ben’s School.
Tara and the Foundation would like to thank all those who have contributed their love and support to this journey.
Thank you to Tyler, Meghan, Antoni, Chris, and the rest of Ben’s family.
Thank you to Alex Spidermonkey and Akkradet Kenny Chairak and their construction crew.
Thank you to Terry, Mike, Adam, Kevin, Mel, Tony, TJ , Karl, Golf, and Niki.
Thank you to Carter Buan for leading us to this village, that Ben loved so much.
… And a special thank you to the people of Pha Dang Luang, who have humbled us with their kindness and welcomed us as a part of their village.
Sincerely, Thank you all. Please stay tuned for more photos and video footage from this journey coming soon.
Please continue to help and support the Live Like Ben Foundation… There is so much left to do… We are only just getting started!
With all the love in the world
We started the day at dawn on a misty Chiang Mai winter morning, with hot coconut coffees and what would be the first snuggles of a day FULL of hugs and love. It’s not a short journey to Pha Dang Luang… a five hour drive on highways leads us to a turn off and a further hour of essentially vertical, winding roads to the very tip top of a mountain. Pha Dang Luang is quite literally right on the top of a mountain, only a stone’s throw away from the border to Myanmar. We arrived to warm welcomes from teachers and students of the village and were overwhelmed and thrilled to see all of the little kiddos running around in their Live Like Ben rhino jackets! We walked up to see classes actively taking place in Ben’s school, shelves full of books, classrooms full of smiles, and Ben’s photo on the wall. We wandered around the village, waving back at all of the locals, always so friendly and welcoming, yelling “Omoshupa” (“hello” in the local dialect) at every opportunity. We sniffed the fresh lemongrass on the hills and smiled at the mountain mama’s picking fresh chilis for dinner. We watched the kids finish their school day with a song for the King and some slices of papaya to take home! Afterwards, we made a toast to Ben with a Chang and a glass of local rice whiskey enforced by the village Governer; (when in Rome)! We waved goodbye and drove away into what was truly the most unbelievable sunset sky, the perfect end to a beautiful day.
Every journey to this village is so special, but what was especially special about this visit was the company! Meghan Trompetter, Ashley Drody, and Chris Sherry came from across the world to adventure together to see Ben’s school for the first time! Meghan is so thrilled to have been able to visit the school, and as usual we were all floored and overjoyed by the incredible amount of love and magic located in the little village of Pha Dang Luang.
Days like this are possible because of all of your love and all of Ben’s love. Please stay tuned for more updates from the Land of Smiles! <3
This project is just the beginning for the Live Like Ben Foundation!
We have touched Pha Dang Luang with your love and hope to do the same with many more villages in the future.
Please note that the Live Like Ben website address has changed from www.livelikeben.org to www.livelikeben.net ! For the time being, donations can be sent to the following address:
Live Like Ben Foundation
2782 Gordon Avenue
With so much love xoxo
It’s Christmas time in Pha Dang Luang, and though there is certainly no snow on the ground, the smiles and the spirit can be seen and felt in every direction! Ben’s School sits proudly above the village and kiddos with tiny rhino jackets and santa hats run in and out of the doors with excitement. Every time of year is a beautiful time of year up here!
This first Live Like Ben project has fueled a fire that can simply not be tamed and the ideas and momentum for future projects seem to be popping up every day. As we’ve mentioned before, The Foundation hopes to create a water line that will give the village consistent access to clean water year round. Having just been to the school and further to the water line, Meghan has suggested a sustainable community garden for the village, and there are also rumblings of new bathroom facilities and maybe even showing these kids their very first playground! Oh the magic we could make!
Tara was thrilled when Adam Roberts – teacher at EMS, rugby coach, and Ben’s buddy, recently reached out with the intention of bringing his High School Rubgy players on a trip to volunteer in Pha Dang Luang! “The essence of rugby is their culture and spirit of the game”, he said, … “It needs to be cultivated and it’s projects like these that show the kids at EMS that rugby is more than just a game!”
We hope that this will be the first of many volunteer groups and it’s so exciting! We can’t wait to welcome them to the Land of Smiles 🙂
Almost a year after Ben’s School opened, it’s truly amazing to look back on this journey and see all that was completed in 2016. With 2017 upon us, the Foundation is hopeful that some of these future ideas will be turned into reality this year, and that next Christmas we will be looking forward to second and even third Live Like Ben projects!
Please note that the Foundation website has changed from wwwlivelikeben.org to (www.livelikeben.net )! As we are currently experiencing some PayPal hassles, any holiday and further donations to the Foundation can be sent to the address below this message!
While the last video we posted depicted the opening day of Ben’s School, this video is a collection of clips along the journey of the build and subsequent visits to the village since.
The Foundation is thrilled to use ‘Home is Where the Heart is’, an absolutely gorgeous song written for and dedicated to Ben by his dear friend, TJ as the soundtrack to this adventure.
(Terence Jack – http://www.terencejack.com)
Thank you to the Trompetter family, Tara Trompetter, Meghan Trompetter, Tyler Alberto Antoni Spizzirri, Terry, Alex Spidermonkey, TJ Hermiston, and the beautiful people of Pha Dang Luang for allowing this video to be possible and thank you to our donors for your continued and overwhelming love and support! Thank you infinitely and always to Ben Trompetter <3
So here’s to 2017! From the Live Like Ben Foundation and the smiling faces of Pha Dang Luang – wishing you and yours the happiest holiday season and a year full of love ahead! May your days be merry and bright and full of smiles, and may you always continue to Live Like Ben!
Live Like Ben Foundation
2782 Gordon Avenue