HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Great community support for Art Fair to assist the disabled and needy

Poo ja drum to be revived in Lampang

Rotary clubs from Malaysia and Thailand get together with Zonta International

Pha Mon Village youth send photo-essay to USA

The late Princess Mother’s Memorial Hall is declared open

Chiang Mai Disabled Center enhancing disabled people’s quality of life

Great community support for Art Fair to assist the disabled and needy

Metinee Chaikuna

An Art Fair began on January 23 in Chiang Mai and will run through to February 22. Uraiwan Tianthong, the minister of culture presided over the opening of the Cultural Project for the Disabled, Disadvantaged and Juveniles in Chiang Mai communities.

Some of the grand prize paintings on show. On the left is the work of Thanakorn Suphromin, a student at the College of Fine Arts in Bangkok, next to it is the work of Watcharaphong Suksithong from Suphanburi College of Fine Arts.

Uraiwan Tianthong, Minister of Culture (standing center) presided over the opening ceremony.

Those involved in the creation and promotion of the event include the Fine Arts Department, Ministry of Culture in cooperation with Chiang Mai Provincial Authorities; American Express Ltd.; Thailand’s Value Creative Association and the Public Relations Department (PRD), Region 3 Office, Chiang Mai. Jintana Panfug, the director of PRD, Region 3 Office said that the fair was being held to provide the chance for disabled children and children in need to express their ability in the arts, literature, music, and drama.

At the opening event, there was an art exhibition, paintings in commemoration of the late Princess Mother and display of the grand prize painting of Princess Mother at the Ratchamangkhalaphisek Chiang Mai National Library, the National Archives Chiang Mai Branch.

The minister of culture posed for a photo with blind students who participated in the ceremony.

The minister of culture looks at the painting of HRH the Princess Mother in the museum.

There is also an exhibition showing pictures of life in Chiang Mai in the past. There is also an art exhibition of the disabled children and children in need being held at the Chiang Mai National Museum.

Poo ja drum to be revived in Lampang

Three day festival to be attended by PM

The Amazing Thai Lanna Poo Ja Drum Festival will be arranged from February 1-3. The poo ja drum is a type of local percussion instrument which was used to indicate the time in the days gone by. The drum was beaten three times daily, at dawn, noon, and in the evening.

The festival will be held in different places on each of the three days. On the first day at Khelang Nakhon Lampang Public Park, the visitors will see the drum parade starting from Boonyawat School going to the festival area. There will be five styles of drum beating shown from five northern provinces and there will also be One Tambon - One Product stalls.

Nong Krathing Main Stadium is the venue for the second day and all the districts in Lampang will join the poo ja drum beating competition. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will officially open the festival on this day.

The third day will be arranged at Wat Prathart Lampang Luang, Koa Ka, Lampang. In the temple, there will be an alms giving ceremony to seventy-six monks to give merit to His Majesty the King. Prayers from thirty-nine Buddhist monks will finish the ceremony.

Rotary clubs from Malaysia and Thailand get together with Zonta International

HIV positive kids receive much assistance

Metinee Chaikuna

The committee of the Rotary Club from District 3300 in Malaysia came to Chiang Mai for the purpose of donating funds to assist children who are victims of the AIDS epidemic. The Rotary Club of Bukit Kiara Sunrise, Malaysia cooperated with the Rotary Club of Chiang Mai Thin Thai Ngam, run by Somboon Suprasert (featured in Chiangmai Mail Vol I, number 9) in this charity exercise.

Soomboon Suprasert (seated center), the president of Zonta International welcomes members from the Rotary Club from Malaysia, Wong Wai Ming (seated left) and Lim Fang Keong (seated right).

Somboon is not only the president of the Rotary Club of Chiang Mai Thin Thai Ngam but she also is a leading light in the Zonta International Chiangmai Club. She has set up many charity projects to help those in need, including the Scholarship Fund, the Thursday Club, and the Grandma Project. Almost every year the Malaysian members come to Chiang Mai to help the local groups’ projects provide needed support to the poor, underprivileged women and their families and children who are HIV positive. The Scholarship Fund provides educational scholarships of 1,000 baht per child. The Thursday Club is a project to support people with HIV at the Red Cross Chiang Mai. Another project assists the grandparents who often end up being the caretakers of HIV infected children.

Lim Fang Keong, the president of Rotary International District 3300, and the Rotary Club of Bukit Kiara Sunrise said, “We want to support these children continually so we focus on HIV affected children. We don’t want to just donate funds, we want to see them, and visit them as well so that we can get closer to them.”

The cooperation between the Rotary Club in Chiang Mai and Malaysia began in 1995, and continues just as strongly today.

Pha Mon Village youth send photo-essay to USA

Marion Vogt

The new Bamboo Shoot project initiated its first cultural exchange over New Year at the Pha Mon Village near Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand. In collaboration with a San Francisco based couple, Lisa Micheli and Ledoh, Pha Mon local youth organizer, the entrepreneurial Surasit Donjaipraiwan and the Karen Youth Friendship Network will jointly create a connection between Karen immigrant communities in the U.S. and Karen living in Thailand, to allow them to be closer to their traditions.

Pha Mon youth will be able to develop their cross-cultural communication skills via the Internet.

The youth at Pha Mon were given cameras to document their village during the New Year’s celebration. Their images and words put together as a photo-essay will be shared directly with Karen-American youth and on the Internet.

This summer, Karen youth in California will be given the same assignment, to tell the story of their own community using photography and text, in response to the offering from the Pha Mon youths.

The organizers aim to develop cross-cultural communication skills in the youths on both sides of the Pacific. In addition, Bamboo Shoot’s mission is to provide youth opportunities for creative engagements of contemporary technologies.

For more information on Bamboo Shoot, contact Ledoh by email at ledoh @earthlink.net or in Chiang Mai contact Surasit Donjaipraiwan 0-6185-0788.

The late Princess Mother’s Memorial Hall is declared open

Nuttanee Thaveephol

M.R. Dissanadda Dissakul, secretary of the Mae Fah Luang Foundation and Tanyapa Nicrothanon, local director of the Tourist Authority of Thailand invited the media to visit the Princess Mother’s memorial hall at Doi Tung Development Project, Mae Fah Luang, Chiang Rai.

The media was invited to visit the Princess Mother’s Biography Hall at Doi Tung, Mae Fah Luang, Chiang Rai.

The hall was officially opened by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on January 18 this year and the public can now visit the hall and view the Princess Mother’s archives.

M.R. Dissanadda Dissakul, acting as the director of Doi Tung Development Project Coordinative Office said that the Mae Fah Luang Foundation from the Doi Tung Royally-Initiated Development Project has completed the hall to honor the Princess Mother and to be a new tourism site in Doi Tung.

The hall was officially opened by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.

The hall is divided into 8 rooms, which display the Princess Mother’s life history. The first room is named “Darken Reign and Sky” and recalls the sadness when the Princess Mother passed away. The themes of the other rooms are: “I will travel by this boat”, “Moral Standard”, “A Century of the Princess Mother”, “Time is valuable”, “The mother of the rural medicine and Thailand’s Public Health”, “The Princess Mother”, and “Doi Tung and the Sustainable Development”.

Chiang Mai Disabled Center enhancing disabled people’s quality of life

Story and pictures by Norman Saunders

Nine-year-old Komchan Saeyang, who lives in Mae Rim, has been severely disabled from birth and until now his parents have had to carry him everywhere. Recently, Freedom Wheelchairs, a branch of Chiang Mai Disabled Center provided Komchan with a special, custom-built wheelchair made by local mechanics, with locally supplied materials. The chair was kindly donated through a sponsorship program by Anthony and Wasana Harris of Chiang Mai.

Nine-year-old Komchan Saeyang and his parents received the latest, special, custom built wheelchair from Freedom Wheelchairs, a branch of Chiang Mai Disabled Center.

The provision of this chair, which his family was too poor to purchase, will greatly enhance Komchan’s quality of life and that of his parents.

The Freedom Wheelchairs workshop also makes children’s walking frames, a number of other products to assist disabled people and can manufacture specialist physiotherapy equipment to order.

Over the past year over 40 children, young adults and some older recipients have had their lives changed for the better by receiving a wheelchair specially designed for their disability and made to fit their size and shape.

A ‘buggy’ with head support, table and harness has been specifically designed to meet the needs of cerebral palsy sufferers, which is now regarded by many working in disability and development as the “new polio”. Anyone working in this field who visits the poorer rural areas of Thailand cannot fail to be shocked at the numbers of C.P. children hidden away in the villages.

Presently the Chiang Mai Disabled Center is trying to develop a ‘Wheelchair Follow-up Program’, which as well as keeping a check on the chairs themselves, will give training to families and their communities aimed at helping these children develop and gain a better quality of life.