Vol. VII No. 17 - Tuesday
April 22 - April 28, 2008

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by Saichon Paewsoongnern

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Presentation of proceeds from Prem School’s 2008 Charity Calendar

Presentation of proceeds from Prem School’s 2008 Charity Calendar

Over 600,000 baht raised for local children’s charity

Picture shows back row (l-r) TAT Director Junnapong Saranak, with Ramlah Jafri and David Baird, Head of School. Seated in the front rows, on the left side, the children who painted the 13 calendar images, and on the right side, children from the Dream Weaving for Peace Foundation with its Director, Bunnam Wirutkaman, seated far right.

Students from Prem Tinsulanonda International School who volunteered to paint pictures for a small desk calendar had no idea that the result would bring the Tourism Minister up from Bangkok to congratulate them, nor could they ever have imagined that it would raise almost $20,000 for children in need. The concept was the brainchild of two foreign residents of the city and it set out to do two things - raise funds for poor children, and simultaneously act as a tourism promotion for the city. It succeeded beyond expectations on both counts.
Thirteen images were chosen from a total of 92 paintings submitted by the Prem students, reflecting “Why Chiang Mai is a Wonderful Place to Live”. The paintings were featured in the calendar with text describing the history and culture of the city, and reasons why “a week is not enough” to enjoy its many attractions.
Dr Suvit Yodmani, at that time the Minister of Tourism and Sports, learned about the calendar, and was so impressed by its uniqueness he flew up to Chiang Mai to preside at the official launch on 4th October last year, and to applaud the initiative. The calendar was self-financed, and had no sponsors or advertisers. In her presentation, its creator Ramlah Jafri told a fascinated audience that she was not sure that a sufficient quantity could be sold to even cover the production costs, but that she nonetheless had faith it would succeed. She was correct!
The calendar was purchased by tourists, residents, commercial companies, hotels and travel agents, and has found its way into thousands of homes and offices all over the world - each one promoting the Lanna capital in a delightful and unusual way. Over 9,000 calendars were sold, and after printing and other expenses, raised a total of 604,000 baht, which was presented by the Prem students who painted the pictures to poor kids from the “Dream Weaving for Peace Foundation” in Samoeng, which cares for homeless and orphaned children. The simple ceremony was touching and meaningful … beautifully conveying the “Children helping Children” ideal.
The presentation took place at Prem Tinsulalonda International School on April 4, and was attended by the Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Northern Region 1, Junnapong Sarunak, the Head of School David Baird, together with several hundred students, parents and teaching staff. 20 of the children from the “Dream Weaving for Peace” foundation and its Director, Bunnam Wirutkaman, were overjoyed to be at the event.
Established in 2003, the foundation is located in hilly countryside about half an hour’s drive from the small town of Samoeng, and about 70 kilometres from Chiang Mai. It consists of a number of simple but functional buildings set into a hillside, and is sanctuary to around two dozen homeless children. It is supported entirely by donations, which are supplemented by income from products and handicrafts created by the children, whose ages range from four to nineteen.
They attend a local school, and each child plays an important part in the running of the centre, with different responsibilities according to age, complemented with activities and instruction designed to help them become independent in later life.
Vocational studies include weaving, woodcarving, drawing, embroidery and painting. Emphasis is placed on self-sufficiency, with the children playing a major role in growing vegetables, rice, and rearing farm animals, which means that very little food needs to be purchased outside. The proceeds from the 2008 Chiang Mai Charity Calendar will be used exclusively for the education of the children, and it is hoped to repeat the entire project for 2009. The calendar story is described fully on http://chiangmaicalendar. googlepages.com and also contains galleries of all 92 paintings submitted. The Dream Weaving for Peace Foundation has a small web site at: http://dreamweaving forpeace.googlepages.com.

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