HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Ecumenical Peace Prayers organized in Chiang Mai

Inthanon hill tribes gather to curse forest arsonists

Danish Princess visits UNICEF Project at Bumrungrad Hospital

DEP launches 7th TIFF

Thung-nguen and Brownie win the Dog Fashion Show

Ecumenical Peace Prayers organized in Chiang Mai

YMCA and YWCA carry out worldwide peaceful protest

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A. Chiang Mai held a special ceremony for peace on March 8, at the same time the Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A. worldwide organized a special day of prayer for peace.

Representatives from Hindu, Muslim, Christianity and Buddhist led all participants to pray for peace.

Sir Vorakit Kanthakalang joins to in the World YMCA-YWCA Prayers for Peace.

A candle to show the way to stop violence.

Buddhist monks pray for peace.

The day began at the Y.M.C.A. Chiang Mai when representatives from the Buddhist, Muslim, Christian and Hindu religions prayed together for peace. Following prayers, the participants from all religions lit candles and sang songs of peace.

In Thailand and Asian countries there are 4 majority religions: Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Hindu. All the religions are calling for peace in the world. However, politics have brought the world into violence. Some countries are willing to spend billions of their government’s budget on war, but there is not enough in the budget to assist the world’s poor.

People from all regions gathered to protest against war.

There is no region to prevail peace.

War brings loss and death to innocent people. So, this meeting at the little community in Thailand is aiming to deliver a message to the world community that they are wanting to keep peace in our world. They hope to stop violence and let us remain in peace. We pray peace may prevail on earth.

Inthanon hill tribes gather to curse forest arsonists

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Hilltribe communities and Doi Inthanon government officials held local rituals to curse forest arsonists. The event was aimed at to preserving the forest during the dry season.

Chormthong District Chief Pornsak Sanguanphol presided over the ceremony.

Hmong headman asks the holy power to protect the forest.

More than 500 hill tribe villagers joined the ritual cursing of arsonists at Doi Inthanon National Park Office on March 10.

A Hmong headman performs an ancient ritual to ask holy powers to protect the forest.

More than 500 Hmong and Karen hill tribe people gathered in the morning on March 10 to carry out sacred tribal rituals at Doi Inthanon National Park Office. This ceremony was presided over by Chormthong district chief, Pornsak Sanguanphol.

The hill tribe people from 10 villages in Doi Inthanon strongly believe that there are many supernatural powers controlling and looking after each tree and water source, so accordingly they do not destroy their forests.

Hmong community’s leader first started this tribal ritual by inviting the holy objects in Doi Inthanon to look after the people, and watch out for and punish the ones who try to light forest fires. If there is no serious incident within 3 months, the villagers will give a pig to the holy powers and a cow after 3 years pass without forest fires.

The second ritual practiced by Karen tribe leaders was that the headman venerated the forest spirits with colorful flower offerings and asked the sacred power to inspire the forest residents to preserve the forest.

Rituals by the Karen people are always done with colorful flowers

Firefighters demonstrate forest fire extinguishing techniques for the hilltribe people.

Doi Inthanon has forest fires every year during February - May, especially in March and April. Anyone who discovers a forest fire please contact the Doi Inthanon National Park Forest Fire Control Unit: 053 229 288.

Danish Princess visits UNICEF Project at Bumrungrad Hospital

story and pictures by Peter Cummins

Princess Alexandra of the Danish Royal Court recently visited Bumrungrad Hospital to see first-hand the programmes initiated by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) designed specifically to assist disadvantaged girls from the north and the north-east.

Princess Alexandra chats with Thailand UNICEF representative, Dr. Gamini Abeysekera.

The Princess distributes mementos of the visit to the interns.

Bumrungrad staff welcome HRH to the hospital’s marvellously-appointed “Kid Zone”.

UNICEF’s Youth Career Development Programme (YCDP) is a joint collaboration for child protection being undertaken by 19 of Bangkok’s leading hotels, the Standard Chartered Nakornthon Bank and Bumrungrad Hospital. Originally launched by the Pan Pacific Hotel Bangkok and UNICEF in 1995, “at risk” young girls are selected from the poorest areas of Thailand’s north and trained in the hotel and hospitality sector at the particular hotel and, in the case of Bumrungrad, in the medical and health-care operations.

The Princess, a gracious, eloquent and vibrant person, warmed to the Hospital staff and the lovely trainee nurses, who, in turn, were very much at ease with her polite and rather informal style.

A mother of two young children herself, she was quick to grasp the details of the training programmes, pointing out, with a ready smile, that being a mother she had little time to ponder situations but, rather, must see details quickly.

“There are always two young children vying for my attention,” she added.

Khun Varanya briefed the Princess on the partnership between the hospital and UNICEF and pointed out that the hospital is the only one in the YCDP scheme and, since joining in 2000, Bumrungrad has accepted 20 eligible students per year, providing training and scholarships for continuing education and career opportunities at the hospital. Three outstanding students were granted scholarships for nursing studies at university.

The Princess confers with the UNICEF translator, to field some questions.

A “wai” from the Princess works wonders with the gathering

The Bumrungrad trainee nurses have an enthralling - and, informative - dialogue with HRH.

Bumrungrad seniors and the charming staff of the “Kid Zone”: smiles all around.

Curtis J. Schroeder, the director of Bumrungrad, informed the Princess, “Nine trainees from the first programme were recruited and now are working with the hospital.”

The Bumrungrad contribution

It was in 200 that the hospital was approached by the Pan Pacific Hotel and UNICEF to join YCDP and help poor young girls through provision of a Nurse Aide Training Programme. “We were very excited about this,” Khun Varanya informed the Princess. “As the Bumrungrad management team, we soon realized that this was one way that we could help the Thai community - and the country. We also realized that many young girls were interested in pursuing a career in the health-care field,” she added.

The Hospital’s Nurse Aide Training Programme started with the nine graduates, mentioned by Dr Curtis, and comprises two parts. The first six months are more theoretical, focusing primarily on anatomy, English language, medical terms and bedside care.

Practical “hands-on” training follows and each student is trained in each department by the hospital’s senior staff. Progress is closely observed by unit managers and upon graduation, the girls are recruited as full-time hospital employees.

In the course of the Nurse Aide Training Programme, the hospital provides free lodging, food, books and all other necessities, including a monthly allowance. Moreover, for any who pass the entrance exam for a government university to continue their bachelor degree, the hospital will also provide a study grant. So far, there are three trainees who are now studying in university level.

UNICEF is very happy with the Bumrungrad programme and co-operation and, as was pointed out to the Princess, it is the only hospital in Asia to be certified by the US-based Joint Commission of International Accreditation.

The Princess took time to visit the superbly appointed Hospital “Kid Zone” and continued animated discussions there with the staff and a group of press and media who had gathered for the occasion.

“I am delighted with my visit to Thailand,” she said. “Everywhere I went, I was met with kindness, generosity and smiling countenances.”

Visibly moved, the Princess informed the gathering that she will take back to Denmark a lasting impression of the warmth and generosity of Thai people. “Even the most disadvantaged want to give something,” she said, adding that her message to the Danish people and government will be to recommend more support for assistance programmes for Thailand and its people.

DEP launches 7th TIFF

Time for the Department of Acronyms?

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The Department of Export Promotion (DEP) launched its 7th Thailand International Furniture Fair (TIFF 2003) to boost Thailand as the center of furniture export in Asia.

Commerce Minister Adisai Potharamik tries out rubber tree furniture.

Minister Adisai presided over the opening ceremony of TIFF 2003 at BITEC and later met the press.

New design chair made from the rubber tree.

Decorate your room with modern furniture.

Following the success of TIFF in previous years, the DEP held TIFF 2003 in early March at BITEC (Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Center), Bang Na, with this year’s theme ‘Quality with Design’.

There were more than 223 companies with 1,055 booths which attracted importers, wholesalers and distributors from USA, Europe, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and Thailand.

The opening ceremony was presided over by Commerce Minister Adisai Potharamik. He said the major markets for furniture export are USA and Japan. Minister Adisai also said our furniture made from the rubber tree attracts foreign importers and Thailand is becoming renowned in the international markets because our products are made and designed as modern, functional and aesthetic.

Furniture made by Kem’s Collection, one of the northern manufacturers.

Studying the site map at the fair.

Cabinet from Thaweephan Fine Furniture.

Modern style armchairs.

There were many northern region businesses at TIFF 2003, including Big Master, Doa-Ngearn Handicraft Furniture, Nantiya Decor, Oriental Look, Oriental Style, Thaweephan Fine Furniture, Kem’s Collection, Phoenix King, Thai International Handicraft and V.C. Bamboo Industry.

After participating in TIFF, the order books are getting bigger and the numbers of new importers has increased, said Thaweephan Fine Furniture’s export manager.

Thung-nguen and Brownie win the Dog Fashion Show

Dogs and owners enjoy flea style outfits!

Nuttanee Thaveephol

The 2nd dog fashion show and fancy dog contest was held on March 8 this year with many dogs (and their owners) participating at Kad Suan Kaew Shopping Complex. There were 2 categories in the contest, beautiful and creative fashion and twin fashions.

This robot girl and robot dog marched on stage to win second prize!

How funny and cute this Pug is!

“I am the smartest dog in the world”

Thung-nguen won top prize for wearing the most beautiful costume in the contest.

Unlike the usual dog shows, which are more serious and competitive and run to strict doggy rules, this amusing show produced many pretty dogs and dog lovers who were prepared to laugh together.

The breeds were weird and wonderful, and so were the outfits. On stage were a Bulldog, Golden Retrievers, Shi-tzus, English Cockers, Poodles, Miniature Pinchers, and Pugs.

The winner in beautiful and creative fashion was Thung-ngeun, an English Cocker in a traditional English costume. Second prize went to Cartoon, a Poodle, and the third was Java, a chubby Pug.

Let’s attack someone after the show’s over

This twin has one of the more elegant costumes of the day.

Love me, love my angel, says the English Sheep Dog.

Today is chaotic but fantastic!

Brownie, an aptly named brown poodle and owner Metawee Damrongrattananurak won first prize in the twin costumes. Second place was the twin robots, Sutthida Mahawan and the Shi-tzu Best, and poodle Pepsi and Kasalee Chairoj were third.

As an additional bonus, any dogs competing or even just visiting could have free health checks carried out by veterinarians from the Veterinary Faculty, Chiang Mai University. Several street dogs were initially interested until they found there could be injections at the end!