Thailandfreunde Chiang Mai donates to School for the Blind and Croston House
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Young Artist of Thailand competition attracted entries from around the
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