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Kindness in Action - in Action in Thailand

Mardi Gras - the real stuff

Will Chiangmai finally have its own Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra?

Kindness in Action - in Action in Thailand

Pictures speak more than a thousand words

Text: Dr. Rebecca Lomax
Photos: Michael Jacobsen

Kindness in Action is an organization that lives up to its name. Bringing dentists, assistants and equipment from Canada, the group spent over a week of their valuable time working in some of northern Thailand’s most remote and poorest villages. Ably assisted by Dr. Rewadee from the McKean Center, the group was photographed by Michael Jacobsen while providing treatment to over a thousand adults and children at Huay Tom village outside of Lamphun.

The group arrived with fifty bicycles, a surprise donation by the Rotary Clubs of Saraphi and Chiang Mai, and four bicycles provided by ‘The House’ and ‘Ginger’. Unloading equipment and supplies, the volunteers went to work in an improvised “clinic”. While their patients were nervous, since most of them had never received dental treatment, each thanked the team with a wai and a smile. It was obvious that the work was meaningful to the Kindness in Action volunteers, as they have pledged to return next year with the same team.

To learn more about this group, visit their website at www.kindnessinaction.ca

You will be impressed when you learn that these volunteers pay their own way, even when they travel so far from home.

Volunteers, helpers, dentist after everything was done.

While treatment was provided on one side of the improvised “clinic”, children were educated on another side on how to take care of teeth.

Mama is there to hold the hand while the little boy received treatment.

Sometimes it was too late and the tooth had to be removed.

Can I watch? Of course! Mirrors were provided to let patients see what was going on.

Setting up the dental instruments...

After the word spread, people traveled from far away to see the doctors from Canada. And this kind of news travel fast!

1000 patients, relieved of pain, educated and happy people on both sides. That’s what we call charity!

A relief for many old people who otherwise would have suffered from more pain.

Treatment and taking care is very important to start in young age.

The children say: khop khun khop/ka! We promise to take care of our teeth.

The truck with the fifty bicycles arrived. Parents whose children received a bike had to sign an agreement not to sell it. These bikes were only for the children for their long way to school.

Mardi Gras - the real stuff

Marion and Michael Vogt

In many parts of the Asian world (don’t look too far), Mardi Gras is commonly mistaken as just another nouveau fancy dress affair, sporting, admittedly, beautifully decorated floats and people, loud music, and parking problems. Well, not quite. Without going into history too deeply, the origins of Mardi Gras began a long time before Europeans set foot in the New World, and goes back to the ancient Romans who were well known for holding festivities of excesses, such as the Saturnalia and the Lupercalia.

With the influence of the Catholic Church, many pagan festivals were absorbed into the Gregorian calendar, and names were changed to protect the guilty. One of these was “Fat Tuesday” (the translation of Mardi Gras) which is also related to the English Shrove Tuesday.

Obviously having evolved over the centuries, Mardi Gras became a major holiday season in Europe, and was brought to America by the French explorer Iberville, back in 1699. On Tuesday, March 3 of 1699, Iberville set up camp on the west bank of the river about 60 miles south of where New Orleans is today. This was the day Mardi Gras was being celebrated in France, and in honor of this important day, Iberville named the site Point du Mardi Gras.

Today, Mardi Gras still has world-wide significance, even for some Chiang Mai residents, especially if they indeed hail from New Orleans. The Mardi Gras recipe for Frank and Becky Weicks was simple, yet effective - prepare some original New Orleans food, throw in a good number of wines and beers, invite a bunch of friends, and tell them to dress up according to the theme! And, boy, they did go out of their way to make it as authentic as possible - the food could not get any more ‘original’, and comprised of home-made blackened chicken, gumbo, red beans and rice, salads, shrimp and crab, carrot, cabbage and apple salad, blue cheese dip, “Y’all” name it.... The music was jazzy and Creole, the King Cake exceptionally delicious, and the costumes absolutely stunning. Almost everyone found a little something to dress up in, some even found a lot, and just a few came ‘as themselves’. The crowd voted Howard “The white bat” Graves and Cheri “The cow” almost unanimously for best male and female costumes, and both were awarded a trophy to pass on to their unbelieving family members. A great and very entertaining evening, thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.

Hello Becky! Turn the camera. I am HERE!

Help! Pirates! But they don’t look that scary! Okechin and John Laine, with Julie.

Investigations? Consul General of USA Eric Rubin and Paul Mahoney, in disguise with pearl necklaces, whispering with Franck Weicks.

Cows need a lot of good food in order to produce milk. Not hard to find ... Host Franck Weicks, Cherryl and Celeste Tolibas-Holland.

“And the winners for most original costumes of the nights are: Howard C. Graves Jr. and Cheri Potter”.

Richard Dixon and a mysterious Afghan lady.

‘Bird of paradise’, alias Bud Velat, sophisticated Hans B. Christensen (The House) and glittery Michael Vogt (Chiangmai Mail).

Margaret and Patrick Ghielmetti from ‘Fantasyland’; or was it the ‘Four Seasonsland’?

Good Night Chiang Mai! It is midnight! Time to go home, David and Noi Hardcastle.

Straight from the carnival in Venice came Carl, Penelope and Marion.

Will Chiangmai finally have its own Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra?

Cory Croymans

At the 30th Anniversary of Payap University in Chiangmai, I had the privilege of being present at the Payap Chamber Orchestra recital this month. And what an experience it was! This 82 person Chamber Orchestra is actually a little too large to be called a Chamber Orchestra, and was directed by Professor Sompong Wongdee.

Dedication would be the right word to use, looking at the artists.

They gave us a great performance in three parts. First with some truly classical music like Bach’s ‘Two Chorales’ and ‘Minuet in G’, which was followed by Mozart’s playful ‘Classical Overture’. The ‘Western Frontier’ (American music) then brought a lighter note to the evening. As this was a Thai Orchestra with Thai musicians from 18 different music schools predominating, they also played some rather nice Thai music from Prayaprasaat Duriyasap.

82 young people playing - a feast for eyes and ears.

During the second part, we were treated by an outstanding performance of Professor Ayu Namtep’s Gospel Group which got us all swinging on our chairs with such pieces as Beethoven’s ‘Joyful, Joyful’ (from Sister Act 1) and Spivery’s ‘Operator’ who wanted to talk to that man called Jesus.

30 Years of Payap University celebrated in style.

During the last part of the evening, I got a real thrill to listen to Hayden’s ‘Symphony no 14’. It was quite obvious that every player seemed most comfortable with this piece even though it is quite difficult to give such a great rendition of it.

The fact that it was being so ably performed by a Thai Orchestra which was set up in Chiang Mai just two years ago, with so many members from 18 different organizations, made it even more valuable, because the sound of the orchestra was just right.

Congratulations for this great initiative go to Payap University and its enterprising music department. We can only hope and pray that this quality evening will have many more to follow and that Professor Sompong Wongdee will get the support he needs. To formally establish the Chiangmai Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra will be a vast and complex enterprise which will need much support from many dedicated people including you as a paying music lover as well as many sponsors. Please spread the word!