You Have To Make The Grade: A Revealing GoFundMe Update

Make The Grade is conveniently thought of as passing a test…(as to how well-indoctrinated you are).

Nope. It’s overcoming obstacles. Real ones. Like getting that goods-laden truck up that 6-mile, 6% grade.

…This is an update on my crazy project to make a rural Thai family financially self-sufficient by crafting a real and viable business. I don’t know what people’s idea of charity is but I’m pretty sure that solid charity has nothing to do with paying taxes or giving money to the plethora of XYZ charity institutions that purport to be good stewards of your money, always pulling at heartstrings.

I said from the outset that I would have financial transparency and report where your money is going. Sink or swim, surpass or fail, every baht goes toward the task.

Last Monday, I got a surprising email from GFM that they’re sending the initial roundup of donations, $1,214.73. Since Monday was a banking holiday and they give computers the day off, it took to Wednesday to get to me at USAA in San Antonio and I promptly transferred it to Wise (an NYC bank account). That took overnight. That’s 3-4 days to get it from GFM to Wise. Then, I transferred it from Wise in NYC to Bangkok Bank in Thailand in 6 seconds for a fee of seven bucks & change. Americans are in the dark.

Then, I told my girl that all was set, she can go ahead and lease her shop today in Surin. She was a couple of hours away getting Chili and Wasabi off to school but was on site in record time. After some time of ensuring everything, and making sure she didn’t want another place instead (this is new, never been rented), she gave me the bank, account number, and name of the lessor and in less than a second, the move-in including security deposit was in his account, via my phone. Understand, this is not a debit or “check” from my account that the bank holds for 2-5 days and then distributes to him (that’s how all your debit, credit, and “check” transactions work for the merchant on the other side of your transactions), as in the Western fraudulent banking world. He could have spent the money a second later. Just like cash.

…If only The Land of the Free wasn’t riddled with a million banking parasites who want to keep your money in the float for 2-5 business days…. Who knows what they do with that enormous balance of cash perpetually in the billions, money flowing in, money flowing out. Anyone’s guess, I guess…

I should mention that the lease acquisition was 27,500 but I had already fronted 5,000 a month ago as an option to hold the place.

So now we have a foothold. Care for some pictures?

Apparently, a gas station next door is great. People stretching their legs on long trips and such… There’s a big shopping center nearby, like a Tesco Lotus (Walmart/Target like).

The monthly rent is 7,500 baht. That’s $218. Pretty sustainable.

So I think we have a good foothold and for the first time have proven that this GoFundMe project is really serious. Not just playing around testing a charity platform.

But as you can see, it’s an empty space she has to fill to sell and profit. It’s about getting her to there.

I might make the spreadsheet more complex later, but I’ve been making them since 1987 in Lotus 123 and learned that simpler is best.

So we have about 19,000 baht to spent in beginning an outfitting of the space. $552. Keep in mind, that’s like $2,500 chez vous, but even that much isn’t going far to outfit a clothing store.

…Here’s what I think. The GFM stands at $1,750 (there’s $100 from the GiveSendGo mirror) with 35 donations so far. Most donations are $100. I did not expect this. My email list is 6,500, membership is about 800, and about 200 of those are paying. I known for sure that several of the donors are none of any relation to the blog. 35 donations.


My burning question and what loses me sleep is what I have to do to nudge these hundreds and thousands of folks who know me to pop for pocket change and Starbucks lattes?

I’ve tried to get a whale or two and that has failed—and my pleas are no longer being answered.

…I got a surprise once I’d rented the place and today asked for the address. While I know my way around Surin like the back of my hand—countless trips driving Yui’s sister to work, and getting all manner of things while building the house—I assumed her total aim was to put the shop in Surin.


She picked a new construction spot on a highway I’ve driven both ways a hundred times and it’s less than 30 minutes from home, the little red circle.

Here’s a zoom out for perspective on this part of Thailand, which is about twice the size of California. Everything there is pretty close to Cambodia and Laos.

I called her just now and began the call clapping. She didn’t really understand so I had to explain.

“You didn’t rent the place in Surin by the university. I’m not calling to say bad.”

“I think you call to say bad.”

“That’s why I clap,” I reply. “You chose a place close enough to home where you can be with your daughters every night.”

…Many moons ago, laying in quiet time with Warunee (noo: Yui), I asked her why she thinks I love her mostly, while knowing the right answer.

“Because I good mom.”

And that answer sealed my fate; for, it signalled she understood me as much I understood her.

And so that’s it for now. She has the foothold, can be home with Chili and Wasabi every night, but still needs a lot for furnishings and inventory. In addition to the $500 left now, there’s about $500 coming next week and then it trickles off.

Y’all have the power to change that and know all the details of where your money goes, with pictures.

Here’s the project link.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

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