HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chiang Mai Choral Society assists RUDP

Silent Auction to help a colleague

Seven Fountain Scholarship Fundraiser

Chiang Mai city is at the IT “Gates”

W&W introduces new high speed Internet services

Rotary Club of Chiangmai Thin Thai Ngam assists Grandma Cares

Chiang Mai Choral Society assists RUDP

Orchid Jade Factory gift made it possible

Rebecca Lomax

Members of the Chiang Mai Choral Society and Gareth Lavell, representative of Rejoice Urban Development Project (RUDP), traveled to Doi Suthep to the Orchid Jade Factory for the presentation of a donation to support the work of Rejoice.

(From L) Preecha Pongcharoenkul, Frank Weicks, Gareth Lavell, Waranan Pongcharoenkul (President of the Choral Society), Becky Lomax, Jo Steele.

The RUDP, is a multi faceted grassroots project, based in Chiang Mai province, near the foot of Doi Suthep mountain. RUDP’s goal is to provide a desperately needed medical and social support system to the population of very poor, sick and underprivileged people living in Chiang Mai’s villages, urban slum communities, and the hill areas throughout Chiang Mai province. In particular, RUDP’s program addresses the diverse array of medical and social needs demonstrated by the people affected by HIV/AIDS.

Waranan and Preecha Pongcharoenkul, owners of the Jade Factory, had donated jade necklaces to the Chiang Mai Choral Society to sell at its recent Christmas performance, and proceeds from the sale as well as other donations will support both the Choral Society and the work of Rejoice.

Silent Auction to help a colleague

Lindy Santitharangkul

Friday night before Christmas proved to be a very giving one for the American Consulate Community in Chiang Mai. When one of the Thai staff was diagnosed with cancer of the sinus recently, several members of the Consulate staff decided to try to help with fundraisers since his insurance was limited in its coverage.

An example of the “services” to be bid on like language lessons, sewing or tennis tips.

The original goal was to raise 44,000 baht to supplement what a charitable organization connected to the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok had already donated to the cause.

From left: Malinda, Annette and little Simonne. It was Simonne’s first glimpse of Santa Claus, and she was dressed like the big fella, too.

The recipient planned to have 6 medical treatments of chemotherapy and radiation, and the total cost would come to an estimated 66,000 baht. Phase I of the project involved the sale of donated postcards - each painted by four watercolorists who’ve been studying art in Chiang Mai for about 6 years.

One of the painters works at the Consulate. After the postcards started selling briskly, a “silent auction” was spearheaded - to be held at the annual holiday party and hopefully attract a great cross-section of the Consulate staff. Due to volunteer energy, terrific staff contributions and very generous support from local businesses around town, the silent auction was a huge success, offering 102 donations for auction, and attracting 42 bidders.

The item eliciting the highest bid was a very gracious one; the cause received 3,100 baht for the Four Seasons Cooking School for two contributions. Baan Celadon’s nativity scene was the most-actively-bid-on item, going up in 20s and 50s of baht from 250 baht to 780 baht, passing hands more than 20 times.

The most exotic item had to come from Frank Weicks and Becky Lomax with their crocodile soup donation, which they delivered to the lucky bidders the next day.

Perhaps the best donations of all came from the Consulate Community treasure chests and liquor cabinets, and more than a handful of staffers donated “services” like English, Thai and French lessons, tennis tips, and sewing services.

The best part of the evening had to be the tremendous amount of holiday spirit, although the financial donation of 70,000 baht including bids, donations and more postcard sales was very nice, too.

All in all, it was a very merry time for scores of giving people out to celebrate the holidays and help a friend.

Seven Fountain Scholarship Fundraiser

Marc Dumur

For the 3rd consecutive year, the Christmas Charity Dinner for the Seven Fountain Church was organized.

(Left) Jennifer and Father Miguel, who personally takes care that the money is spent at the right places. (Photo by Renee Vines)

This year, it was like a potluck dinner at the US Consulate resident compound to raise funds for scholarships for hill tribe children, in order to pay school fees, uniforms, stationary and lunches. This charity is initiated by Father Miguel from the Seven Fountains Spirituality Center who personally involves himself in selecting where the money goes, as well as to make sure that the money is coming directly to the benefit of the children.

The organizing committee of this year’s Xmas charity dinner (from left) Tan Hartmann, Jo Steele and Libby Lenseigne are joining well known pianist and composer Bernard Sumner in singing a few Xmas tunes. (Photo by Renee Vines)

All the food, as well as the entertainment by pianist Bernard Sumner was fully donated. The event raised over 50,000 baht, 100% of which will be spent on the above-mentioned items.

Chiang Mai city is at the IT “Gates”

IT is the “Windows” to the world?

Phisut Itsaracheewawat

The Thai government is urgently developing major cities in the region to become Information Technology cities, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2004 as Thailand has only been ranked 60th in the world and 4th in South East Asia.

Dr. Surapong Suebwonglee, ICT minister, confirming that the Thai government wants to develop Chiang Mai to become an IT city.

It was concluded from a meeting in Geneva with 176 countries that Information and Communications Technology was the most important factor that could not be neglected any more because it shows how well established the society is and helps advance human resources.

“We are ranked 60th in the world and still far behind Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei so we should not deny this and should hurry up the development of other cities in the region,” Dr. Surapong Suebwonglee, the ICT Minister said.

He added that all the IT advancements had only been in Bangkok so it was the time to expand to other regions, raising Thailand’s world ranking and improving Thailand’s image.

A project to make Chiang Mai an IT city is only 20 percent completed so far. The ICT Ministry has distributed 3,000 computers to schools in remote areas, aiming to give away 8,000 more and planning to exchange 200,000 old computers next year.

W&W introduces new high speed Internet services

“Race you to the next COM port”

Phisut Itsaracheewawat

Wire & Wireless, a branch of the Telecom Asia Group, held a party to introduce their new product, Asianet Cable Modem, at Central Airport Plaza.

Chiang Mai Deputy Governor Thongchai Wongrianthong cuts the ribbon to open High Speed Internet at Central Airport Plaza.

Thongchai Wongrianthong, deputy Chiang Mai governor, presided, saying that the launch of high speed internet was a further step to make Chiang Mai an IT City.

Krittinai Palacheewa, general manager of W&W said that his company would provide two services to serve two target groups; home and business, and this was expected to attract about 1,000 customers in 2004.

“Our strong point is that our teenage users can play games more conveniently because we are a sister company of Telecom Asia which provides a server for many on-line games, while other companies cannot,” he said.

Krittinai also confirmed that there would not be a problem with failure of the system or with downloading information when multiple users log on at the same time.

Interested internet users can contact their four major dealers; Chi Chang Computer, GIS Park, IS Computer and Niyompanich for more information on costs of this service.

Rotary Club of Chiangmai Thin Thai Ngam assists Grandma Cares

Aunty Boon’s project attracts international attention

The Rotary Club of Chiangmai Thin Thai Ngam Dist 3360, has been interviewed by Kathleen Pratt, who is with the international Rotary Magazine, about the Grandma Cares Project, with chairman and Past President Somboon Suprasert (Aunty Boon).

Rotary, Zonta, and Red Cross - everybody is helping with the Grandma Cares project.

The Grandma Cares project is currently “on the road”, visiting many provinces and training Grandmas to care for their grandchildren who have been left orphaned by HIV/AIDS. 30 grandmas are now waiting to be trained.

The Rotary Club Thin Thai Ngam was very fortunate in having a Rotary Club from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia Dist. 3300) interested in this worthwhile project, and they have become a sister club. The trips into the provinces are from now on sponsored by the sister club.

The last achievement of this Chiang Mai ladies Rotary Club is the inauguration of two honorary members, the consul general of the USA in Chiang Mai, Eric S. Rubin, and the governor of Chiangmai, Suwat Tantipat. The official inauguration will be on January 8th.