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Celebration of 40 years of the New Life Foundation

Discover the wonders of producing sesame oil the old-fashioned way

Tiny tots crawl into the athletic hall of fame

Celebration of 40 years of the New Life Foundation

Debut performance by the Chiang Mai’s Symphony Orchestra

Text by Marion Vogt
Photos by Michael Vogt

An evening which will be remembered for a long time, not only by the musicians of the Chiangmai Symphony Orchestra who gave their debut performance, but also by the audience and members of the New Life Foundation.

The MC’s of the night who led the audience through the evening with humor and insight into the work of 40 Years New Life Foundation - Cory Croymans-Plaghki and her Thai counterpart Ajarn Jo Brin’cob Worahurai, head of Payap University’s Music Department.

It was a gala in two parts, a night with strong public support (1392 spectators) which showed once again the cultural interest of the northern community who showed their appreciation of an evening they did not want to end, and over 350,000 baht in net proceeds was raised for the Foundation.

Ajarn Xavier Titijet Vichitporn and Judith Utley started the concerto in C major for flute and harp and the audience was spellbound.

Cory Croymans-Plaghki, consultant to the New Life Foundation began with an informative speech outlining the fundraising of the night and background regarding the 40 years of the new Life Foundation. “This wonderful organization which is very close to my heart was established in 1964 with the support from both the Thai and American governments. During the past 40 years, our main activities have been to set up special villages where we care for 1065 underprivileged Thais with a physical or mental handicap, patients who have recovered from mental disorders. They have a place to stay temporarily at the “Halfway Home” at Hueydindam, in the Hangdong District of Chiangmai province which is managed by the Suanprung Psychiatric Hospital from Chiangmai. In this beautiful facility, they learn how to care for themselves again, how to re-integrate into society, how to grow organic vegetables and Jiaogulan tea. The New Life Foundation is now also supporting the second and third generation of these villagers. Fifteen years ago, we constructed two Homes for Elderly and with your help; we would like to renovate these run-down Homes.”

During intermission the spectators were treated to some tasty Jiaogulan tea and presentations of handicrafts from the villages that are supported by the New Life Foundation.

She gave an insight into the two kindergarten schools for the children of the members, on the scholarship fund to ensure the educational support for orphaned children and the audience was given a taste of the fabulous Jiaogulan tea at intermission, grown by the villagers being supported by the Foundation.

Chiangmai Symphony Orchestra (CMSO) directed by Prof. Sompong Wongdee.

We were treated to a combination of Asian themes, using two compositions by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, and Western musical styles including Haydn and Mozart.

Concentrated but filled with passion for the difficult music pieces.

The new CMSO began with ‘Saifon’ (Rain) and ‘Lomnow’ (Winter Breeze), both composed by H.M. the King, who developed complex chords and rhythms for both pieces making varied arrangements possible for orchestral presentation. Tenor Rangsun Poonsup and Soprano Jutarat Honsakornprasert had the difficult task to break the ice but by the time the musicians started Mozart’s concerto for harp and flute it was obvious that the first signs of nervousness were gone and they played from their heart. Professors, students, graduates from USA and musicians from 18 schools or universities from all over Chiang Mai province all showed a spirit of dedication.

The chorus of the blind children of Baan Chulasai, trained by Ajarn Xavier was very appreciated.

When Ajarn Xavier Titijet Vichitporn and Judith Utley began the concerto in C major for flute and harp the audience was spellbound. The brilliant consonance of flute and harp that launches the first movement was caught and expressed by the new orchestra from start to finish. Ajarn Xavier caught Mozart’s flair for the dramatic interludes with the development of the first movement.

Soprano Jutarat Honsakornprasert had the difficult task to break the ice, looking like a snowflake herself.

The end of the first part of the evening in the Kad theatre was Haydn’s ‘Toy Symphony in C major’ played as a ‘march in’ under director Prof. Sompong Wongdee with children playing recorders, whistles and small drums.

Somboon Suprasert, seen with all five members of A Capella 7, had the honor to hand out mementos of appreciation to the musicians.

Part two of the night was a treat in itself featuring a chorus by the blind children of Baan Chulasai and the long round of applause these special students received was well-deserved.

Khunying Bupphan Nimmanhaeminda, president of the New Life Foundation and Cory Croymans-Plaghki, consultant, MC and organizer of this unforgettable concert.

They were followed by the ‘A Capella 7’, musicians who are mostly heard in Bangkok, but originally from Chiang Mai. Their ‘a capella repertoire’ went from ‘Don’t worry be happy’ to music from Chicago and even Ronan Keating’s ‘Nothing at all’ which received much applause from the audience.

Two of the artists from ‘A Capella 7’, lively, professional and full of spirit.

It was a unique experience. Fine music, played by over eighty musicians performing at their peak with energy, spirit, and most of all, love for music. This pairing of nationally recognized guest artists and local musicians was exceptional. Where else is that possible but in Chiang Mai?

The Chiangmai Symphony Orchestra (CMSO) is a full 80-piece symphony orchestra composed from 18 different Chiang Mai Schools and Universities.

Discover the wonders of producing sesame oil the old-fashioned way

The unique Tai Yai experience

Autsadaporn Kamthai

Some of you may enjoy food cooked in sesame oil because of the taste and because it is healthy and nutritious. Others may enjoy sesame products like lip balm and soap.

A wooden grinder that is part of the local wisdom and heritage of Thai Yai descendents, used to refine sesame oil. A cow is used as the main source of power. It is unique and seen only in Mae Hong Son.

Sesame oil and its products are fast gaining in popularity as more people around the world turn to organic foods and show increasing concern about their health.

The cattle walking around the grinder will move the wooden paddle (as shown in pic) to pound sesame seeds until the oil is extracted.

Have you ever wondered how this invigorating oil is produced? The sesame oil that we use here comes from various areas in the North such as Lamphun, Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son. Even though they are producing the same product or oil, each source is different in its procedure, depending on each community’s local knowledge.

The source I would like to focus on here is Mae Hong Son, a city that has great charm, unique culture and lifestyle. Local knowledge in each community has great value for its people and is a precious and attractive heritage. The way Thai Yai descendents in Mae Hong Son use their own wooden grinding devices and cattle as its motive power to refine the sesame oil is one of the fascinating customs that is not well known. This production is unique and has been passed down only within the Thai Yai community.

Some products made of sesame seeds are sesame oil, snacks, lip balm, soap, anti-mosquito lotion.

“In the past, Thai Yai descendents produced sesame oil and fermented pea (being called “Tua Nao”) as food,” said 75-year- old Tin Fun-uttama, a Thai Yai resident in Mae Hong Son, who has spent over 30 years refining and producing sesame oil for a living.

The new grinder, which was adapted from the original, uses electricity instead of cattle-power.

“Our ancestors gave us wooden grinders as a heritage to support our families and we are familiar with the production method,” Tin says.

“I am too old to continue refining the sesame oil and my family has been supporting me so I don’t need to do it anymore,” says Tin. Now he buys sesame seeds from a farmer and hires other people who still own the grinders to refine the oil for him.


Production of sesame oil in Mae Hong Son province is comprised of a chain of three groups of producers. The first in the chain is the farmer who plants the sesame trees and sells the crops to the second group.

Cows used as a source of power in an original method of sesame oil refining taking a rest after work.

Sesame seeds are placed outdoors to be sun-dried before passing the oil refining.

The second group buys the crops and hires the third group to refine the oil for them because they do not own the special wooden grinders.

The third group’s role is only refining the oil. After being refined, the oil will be sold to the middlemen and shops.

However, this industry can be only operated during August and September, the sesame tree’s harvesting season. The farmer plants the trees in May, and they bear seeds during August and September.

Lately, sesame oil and its products in Mae Hong Son such as soap, jam, snacks, mosquito lotion, lip balm have been designated as OTOP (One Tambon One Product) items. And some are now being exported to overseas markets through Bangkok-based agents.

This traditional form of sesame refining is currently facing obstacles in getting Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) quality approval. Some people have adapted the grinders to use electricity or hydro-power instead of cattle to drive it to get FDA labels on their products.

As a result, there is a distinct possibility that this traditional form of sesame oil refining, a Thai Yai’s precious wisdom and heritage, will soon no longer exist.

As education and modernization are introduced into communities, more people will distance themselves from this low-tech device and production process, which though slow, has maintained many families for centuries.

Tiny tots crawl into the athletic hall of fame

Autsadaporn Kamthai

You’re never too young for competition. Ask the bouncing babies who took part in the crawl competition for infants held in Chiang Mai by Mamy Poko and Mother’s Digest Magazine.

Preparing for the launch with their mothers helping and cheering behind them.

To introduce new Mamy Poko pants in Chiang Mai and offer a sporting event for infants, UniCharm (Thailand) held the 3rd Mamy Poko Party on October 2 at the Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel. Family Direct Co., Ltd. were the co-organizers.

Babies in the crawl competition.

Thousands of parents brought their little athletic babies to the party to compete for the prizes. The party included a baby crawl competition, performances from Chiang Mai Kindergarten School and many enjoyable games.

The winners. The new hope of the nation!

The crawl competition was the highlight of the day, which was heralded by adult laughter and the crying of the infant athletes.

They only had to cover 3 meters. Yet, it was not always easy for parents to coax them towards the finishing line: the starting whistles startled many of the babies who immediately began to cry, while other preferred playing with the balls on the field instead of completing the course.

One little girl athlete cried her way to the finish line.

“Nong Ink”, a 14 month old, recorded a best time of 9 seconds and received a 15,000 baht prize and thus became a professional athlete, a medal and gift sets from Mamy Poko and Mother’s Digest. The second prize went to one year old “Nong Ud”, and the third prize belonged to “Nong Arm”, a 20 month old.