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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Thailandfreunde Chiang Mai donates to School for the Blind and Croston House

Make a date for the Bor Sang Umbrella and San Kamphaeng Handicraft Festival

A winter update from Cultural Canvas

Young Thai artists display their talent in Bangkok

New Beer House opens in town

Festive gift at Imperial Mae Ping

Thailandfreunde Chiang Mai donates to School for the Blind and Croston House

CMM Reporters
Thailandfreunde’s Chiang Mai-based group had a busy week over the New Year period, as they had arranged two very important appointments. The group, led by Dirk Weeber-Arayatumsopon and his partner, Wuttipong Arayatumsopon, are the local arm of Thailandfreunde e.V., the German human rights organisation, and are concerned with supporting underprivileged children in Chiang Mai and the surrounding areas.

(L to R) Maria Reussner, Joachim Erkes, the Director of the School for the Blind, and Dirk Weeber-Arayatumsopon during the TF team’s visit.
The first appointment involved a trip out to Lamphun for Dirk, Wuttipong and members of the TF board, where they donated by contract the sum of 65,000 baht to Croston House Orphanage, run by Glen Croston and his wife. Many items of much-needed equipment such as shoes, shampoo, toys and toothbrushes, donated by parents of kids attending the Swiss School in Bangkok, were also presented, together with another 75,000 baht which had been raised to provide for emergency medical expenses for the children, and will be held in reserve until needed. The members of the TF group spent a very enjoyable three hours with the children, and will meet up with them again when TF takes them for a ‘fun day’ at a local Elephant Camp in the spring.
The second appointment was at Chiang Mai’s School for the Blind, on January 7, when Wuttipong and Dirk, with TF board members Maria Reussner and Joachim Erkes to donate the sum of 30,000 baht for the benefit of the 300 blind and disabled children and young adults living there.
Wuttipong explained that being blind or disabled must seem like being in a prison, and that charities like School for the Blind were essential in that they improved the lives and prospects of those who were ‘living in darkness.’ Only two such schools exist in the whole of Thailand, the other being in Bangkok. The Chiang Mai school cares for children as young as 4 years old, up to young adults aged 30 years.
In addition to the cash donation, Dirk, as president of the German Thailandfreunde human rights organization, had arranged for 60 pairs of brand new children’s shoes to be sent to Thailand to be given to the school, as it is difficult to get good quality children’s shoes locally.
Khun Songkran, from the school, told the TF team that the children were able to study music, massage technology and English at the school, and that he hoped to be able to open a call centre on the premises in order to provide the older blind residents with work. The team responded with a promise to collect equipment to be used in the call centre and also, hopefully, musical instruments.
Dirk was able to use his talents as the resident podologist at his Podology Center in San Sai, when he was told that two of the children had foot problems. Bringing his medical treatment case from his car, he soon had the children smiling again and caused huge amusement when, whilst giving a cool disinfectant rub to other children’s feet, he managed to tickle them.
A very positive morning, rounded off by an enjoyable lunch, and a promise from Wuttipong that, as the donations given that day were merely a ‘drop in the ocean,’ Thailandfreunde would be there again for the School for the Blind.

The TF team, together with Croston House management and the children,
during the presentation visit.

 

Make a date for the Bor Sang Umbrella and San Kamphaeng Handicraft Festival

Bor Sang, on highway 1006 heading east from Chiang Mai, appears to be a typical sleepy rural village, the kind the tour bus speeds by, giving you just a fleeting glimpse of its two-storey wooden houses. But hidden in the tiny lanes, villagers have perfected a craft that creates the country’s most famous umbrellas.

Experience the magic, charm and colour of the Bor Sang Umbrella Festival.
For more than 100 years, the village has been associated with the production of umbrellas made from saa paper derived from mulberry tree bark. According to local history, a monk travelled to neighbouring Myanmar, where he came across saa paper umbrellas that offered protection against both the sun and rain.
He returned with the production technique and introduced the umbrella to the elders of Bor Sang village, who added their own artistic skills to create a distinctive colourful, but very practical, umbrella. At first it was just a profitable hobby that supplemented the villagers’ earnings from the annual rice crop. However, with time production of the saa paper umbrellas prospered, prompting villagers to establish a handicraft cooperative in 1941 that now organises the annual festival.
Using silk and cotton, weaved at neighbouring San Kamphaeng, villagers eventually added a second line of umbrellas decorated with images of the north, its flowers and birds, all intricately hand-painted. Today, Bor Sang village exports both saa paper and silk umbrellas. They are seen at trade shows in a variety of sizes, from giant parasols that offer a shady canopy from the sun, to miniscule variations that adorn popular cocktail drinks.
To celebrate its success, the village hosts a three-day festival every January. Streets are illuminated by lanterns, while hundreds of umbrellas are hung from the rafters and beams of houses and shops. Bands play, and villagers compete to design the year’s most attractive umbrella. Concerts, a food festival and beauty contest all compete for the attention of the audience, a mix of both tourists and residents, who gather here to celebrate Bor Sang’s innovative handicraft skills.
Throughout the year, tourists visit the village, a short 6 km drive from Chiang Mai, to buy umbrellas and study the process and skills that go into making a handicraft entirely from natural products. But nothing quite compares with the buzz that permeates the village during this colourful three-day handicraft festival, every January. It is a scene that represents village hospitality and charm at its very best.
The Bor Sang Umbrella and San Kamphaeng Handicraft Festival takes place this year from January 16-18.


A winter update from Cultural Canvas

CMM Reporters
For those of you who haven’t yet heard of this innovative and registered non-profit organisation, Cultural Canvas Thailand’s mission is to generate awareness and volunteer support of the current social issues facing Chiang Mai. It promotes equality, community interaction, and social change through volunteer services and artistic outreach in conjunction with local organizations, and provides service and supplies to projects in the following areas – HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention, Burmese Refugee Aid and Education, Women’s Empowerment and Hill Tribe Aid and Education.
Like so many of the NGOs large and small, based here in the city, Cultural Canvas has had a very busy autumn, with some notable successes! Late last year, the Canvas Art Program and the Wildflower Home Foundation came together for a two-day workshop to create a scenic mural on the cement walls of the foundation’s bathroom. Wildflower Home provides safe shelter, education, health and other services to young single mothers who are either pregnant or have very young children with the aim of helping them achieve self sufficiency. Due to their status as women, as poor, as mothers out of wedlock, and for many, as indigenous, this target population faces many forms of discrimination.
In the workshop, the mothers of Wildflower, their children and the CAP team painted ceramic tiles with scenes depicting memories of home, which, for the tribal participants, is far from the foundation where they now reside. After painting, the tiles were incorporated into a large-as-life jungle scene covering every inch of their once plain bathroom. The aim of the workshop was to have a creative and relaxing day for mothers and their children while adding a touch of hominess and a splash of color to WHF. It was a great success with cooperation between mothers, children and the CAP Team. We look forward to collaborating with Wildflower Home on many more projects to come. The tiles for this workshop were kindly donated to by Donjai Srivichainanda from Mae Rim Ceramic Studio.
Super Volunteer takes CAP to new heights
A ‘Super Volunteer’ artist/art therapist from Scotland, Mairi Summers, paid a whirlwind, two-month visit, and gave CCT her all. With great dedication, Mairi helped develop various art workshops with partner organizations Mplus, Wildflower Home Foundation and Chiang Mai Buddhakasetra. She inspired the CAP team to learn batik and incorporate it into future workshops. As a skilled art therapist, Mairi offered individual sessions to several women at Wildflower Home and a group session at MPlus. At Studio Xang, an artistic outreach organization, Mairi offered volunteers an art therapy training session to assist with their program. The success of her art therapy sessions have motivated CAP to develop an art therapy program focused on one-on-one sessions in addition to their group workshops. While Mairi was only here a few months, her contribution to CCT programs and participants will be felt for years to come. Thank you, Mairi!
An added and much appreciated bonus came when Cultural Canvas Thailand’s Canvas Art Program was announced as the winner of the first Non-Profit Marketing Giveaway Package from Good Ink Inc and Not Dead Yet Studios. Good Ink Inc (www.goodinkinc.com) is an amazing freelance copywriting shop and Not Dead Yet Studios (www.notdeadyet studios .com) is a design firm that breathes art into marketing. These two companies have come together to support CAP in spreading the joy of art through a website that will be dedicated exclusively to the art program. A marvellous idea, and one which the team at Cultural Canvas Thailand can’t wait to have up and running!
Cultural Canvas has many projects in the pipeline, and their dedicated staff and volunteers are working very hard to make these projects a success. They would very much appreciate donations, either of time, supplies or funds. For more information, or to donate, please visit the website at www. culturalcanvas.com. Art therapy is highly regarded world wide as a successful tool in the reduction of the effects of both long and short-term post-traumatic stress disorder and many other problems.


Young Thai artists display their talent in Bangkok

The Young Artist of Thailand competition has this year attracted a record 379 entries from aspiring young students across the Kingdom. The competition has seen a 168% increase over the 144 entries in 2007 with entries received from distant communities such as Mahasarakham in the East and Had Yai in the South.

The Young Artist of Thailand competition attracted entries from around the Kingdom.

Artworks of the 64 semi-finalists are currently being exhibited for the public to view at CentralWorld in Bangkok from January 12-18. The winner of the contest will be announced at a special Gala Reception to be held at the 8th floor of ZEN in CentralWorld on Friday 16 January.
The winner of the Young Artist of Thailand will receive a cash prize of THB 100,000 and will be flown to London where accommodation for one week is provided at Overseas House, the worldwide headquarters of the Royal Over-Seas League. The art works of the 12 finalists in the competition will also be flown to London to be exhibited at Overseas House for one week.
The competition is organised by the Royal Over-Seas League in Thailand in association with Raimon Land, CentralWorld, Zen, TK Park, the Post Publishing Public Company Limited and Dusit Thani Hotel.
“As part of our strong social commitment, Raimon Land is proud to sponsor the Young Artist of Thailand competition for the second consecutive year. We see this as a great opportunity to launch the talents of young Thais on the international stage,” said Raimon Land’s Chief Executive Officer Nigel Cornick. “I would like to invite the public to join us in celebrating the works of these accomplished artists.”


New Beer House opens in town

The Beer House at the Sirinart Garden Hotel was officially opened recently by Chuchart Kilapaeng, Deputy Governor of Chiang Mai, Somchai Maichandaeng from the Chiang Mai Tourism and Sports Office, and Kanchana Klingthong, Director of the Northern Labor Rehabilitation Centre.


Festive gift at Imperial Mae Ping

The General Manager of the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel, Praphan Kotpetch (2nd from right) presents a basket of fruit to Yongyuth Surenrangsikul, Chief of the Court of Appeal in Region 5, to celebrate the New Year.