ThailandFreunde Chairman awarded EU Tolerance Award
Group picture with Her Royal Highness Princess
By Elfi Seitz
The chairman of German human rights group Thailandfreunde (Thailand
Friends) has been awarded the European “Tolerance Award” from the European
Dirk Weeber-Arayatumsopon, a freelance writer and contributor to the Chiang
Mai Mail and Pattaya Blatt, received the award from EU Cultural Forum
President Dieter Topp at a Nov. 27 Pantip Court charity fund raiser attended
by HRH Princess Soamsawalee, politicians and other dignitaries.
HRH Princess Soamsawalee was the guest of honor at the event, which featured
Thai artifactswith the aim of raising money for the prevention of AIDS
transmission fronm mother to child.
European Parliament member Thomas Mann of the EVP-ED faction sent his
congratulations to Weeber-Arayatumsopon, whom he has known for many years.
“Dirk was my successor at the executive committee of the “Young Workforce”
and at that time had already become involved in helping minorities. He was
engaged in helping people with social problems and tried to build bridges.
He was successful with many social and cultural projects and gave people in
Thailand new hope,” Mr Mann continued.
He mentioned also that Weeber-Arayatumsopon helps the blind, sick and
HIV-infected and that his personal approach to these people was greatly
appreciated.Topp said he was pleased to present the award to the Thailand
Friends founder. “I am proud of people like Dirk,” he said. “I hope he still
can carry on for many years with what he is doing.”
Weeber-Arayatumsopon told the gathering that he does what he does from his
heart. “I gain sponsors or organize welfare events because I feel that we
have to save children from pedophiles and prostitution, give hope to the
disabled and help patients with my work as a podiatrist.” He added that he
is happy to be welcome in his second home, Thailand, as a friend and not as
After HRH the Princess arrived, she showed great interest in
Weeber-Arayatumsopon’s collection of old newspapers and books, which he and
partner Wuttipong Arayatumsopon showcased during the exhibition.
Mr. Topp presented the princess with an antique bronze Dali medal and Dirk
Weeber-Arayatumsopon gave her an antique Hummel figurine from 1948 and a
French newspaper from 1893.
A beautiful fashion show, organized and modeled by members of the Siam
Technical College delighted the audience and HRH the Princess showed her
appreciation of the students. Kru Aun sang Thai ballads to the group and
dancers showed off their talents.
HRH the Princess capped the evening by presenting the Arayatumsopons, Dieter
Topp and Pantip Court owner Pornsawan Panicheeva with plaques of honor as
well as giving guests who made donations to her causee pins bearing her
insignia. She then retired to a private room for a dinner with the guest of
honor that evening and 25 people.
Dirk Weeber-Arayatumsopon receives the award
from Promsap Boonak and Dieter Topp. Far left is Palasha Kosayothin and next
to her is Wuttipong Arayatumsopon. Dirk said during his speech, “All that I
do comes from my heart.”
Santa comes to the Chiang Mai Gymkhana Club
Children play with the panda
mascot at the Christmas Party.
A clown makes balloon
animals for children
at the Gymkhana Club Christmas Party.
Children of many different
the Christmas Party held at Chiang Mai Gymkhana Golf Course.
The Guitarman plays his
guitar for partygoers.
The event’s organizers,
(From L-R), Alice Moe, Michelle Young,
Sean (Santa), Emmanuelle Moukarlel and Berocca Chalmers.
Children participate in a
Magic Show at the Christmas Party.
Up to 250 people attended the Christmas party at the Chiang Mai
Gymkhana Club on December 12. Santa Claus was on hand to hand out gifts and
delight the children who attended the event. A magic show, balloon animals
and a special musical show from local venue Guitarman were some of the
special events that kids and adults alike enjoyed at the Christmas party.
Ryan T. and Michelle Young, from the Common Interest Foundation together
with Alice Moe, Emmanuelle Moukarlel and Berocca Chalmers organized the
event for foreign families residing in Chiang Mai.
Santa comes to the Chiang
Mai Gymkhana Club
A project in memory of Chiang Mai resident
Ken Hagerman brings clean water to a rural village
A Boost for Mae Pun Deng
By Dave White
Several years ago, a Canadian buddy of mine, Ken Hagerman, came to
Thailand with us for the first time. As we ventured throughout the north
country, he fell in love not only with the country, but the people. What
better adventures for a people person?
and Donna Hagerman (Ken died in Chiang Mai, Nov. 1). The Ken Hagerman Water
Project ( 250 water filters for the village of Mae Pun Deng) was initiated
by his wife Donna. The first 35 filters have already been installed at
Ken returned in mid-October, 2009 with his wife Donna and our travelling
group of seven Canadians from British Columbia and Alberta. Sadly on Nov. 1,
Ken suffered a massive heart attack and died at Chiang Mai’s Ram Hospital.
On our first trip to Thailand in 2004, my wife and I met a very unassuming,
but inspiring tour guide Hod Chommala, whom we hired for a four-day family
trek in the Chiang Dao area. Every year we’ve reconnected with Hod, always
curious and fascinated with how he, his family and others were doing at Mae
Pun Deng, a small village about an hour and a half south of Lamphun.
If given a choice, Hod would be the stay-at-home farmer, growing crops,
improving his land, home, and looking enthusiastically to the village’s
future. But he continues work as one of Chiang Mai’s most outstanding tour
guides, all while keeping his fellow villagers in mind.
One of Mae Pun Deng’s major needs has been clean drinking water. It’s a
dilemma Hod and I discussed many times. How can the village’s drinking water
sources be improved? What can the villagers do to help themselves? What can
outsiders do, without interfering. How can villagers take ownership?
The unfortunate death of a best buddy friend ultimately created an
overwhelming opportunity. His wife, Donna, knowing the village’s need,
initiated the Ken Hagerman Water Project for Mae Pun Deng, with a view to
improving the villagers’ drinking water, and as an acknowledgment of Ken and
Donna’s love of Thailand.
Hod Chommala (center) helps
unload while Stefan Geiger of the Rain Tree Foundation looks on.
Since that fateful Nov. 1, the stars have been
aligned…it’s been a serendipitous whirlwind.
We Canadians have known about an innovation of Dr. David Manz of the
University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada…the biosand water filter, which makes
use of local supplies and workers to provide drinking water 99.999 percent
A water biolayer is the key. Simply stated, after a 21-day maturation
period, germs in the water eat germs, as the water filters down through the
biolayer. Water finally filters through three layers of sand and
differently-sized gravel. Gravity-fed, it requires no electricity, only the
requirement that water be poured into the filter at least once a day,
creating approximately 20 litres of pure, clean drinking water with each
water filters arrive at Mae Pun Deng.
A quick email outlining our proposal whizzed off from Chiang Mai to the
Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST), a Canadian
humanitarian, not-for-profit group in Calgary, Alberta. Within 24 hours I
was meeting in Chiang Mai with Shauna Curry, P. Eng, CAWST’s Director,
International Services and one of her local contacts, Stefan Geiger of the
Chiang Mai’s Rain Tree Foundation. She received my email from the Calgary
office just after stepping off a plane in Bangkok.
It just so happens that Rain Tree ( principals Ralf Oberg, Stefan Geiger and
Thomas Singer), manufactures the biosand filter in Doi Saket using local
products and labor. It’s a made in Thailand venture. Quickly, we had the Ken
Hagerman Water Project on its way, while back in Canada, Ken’s family,
friends and colleagues joined Donna in making this project become a
The village of Mae Pun Deng is receiving 250 concrete biosand filters – one
for each household, two for each of the schools and two more for each of the
village’s temples, and other locations as required. Canadians have
contributed approximately 455,000 BHT (about $14,000 CDN) to the Ken
Hagerman Water Project.
Our latest visit in Thailand is finished…we’re on our long flight back to
cold, snowy weather, and friends and Ken’s family in Canada. At the same
time, the Ken Hagerman Water Project objectives are being achieved through a
co-operative effort among the villagers of Mae Pun Deng, our friend Hod
Chommala, village headman Nhan Heun, and Rain Tree’s Oberg, Geiger and
Singer, and of course, Donna Hagerman in Canada.
Tuesday, Dec. 8, the first 35 filters arrived and were installed at Mae Pun
Deng…the monk’s blessing ceremony and a remembrance of Ken Hagerman
highlighted an astonishing village celebration between the Farang and their
new-found Thai friends.
As filters are manufactured, villagers will pitch in and transport them to
Mae Pun Deng with their own trucks over the next few weeks…again a
co-operative effort that keeps everyone in the village involved in the Ken
Hagerman Water Project. Rain Tree, along with installation, is training
villagers how to operate and maintain the filters…and with our friend Hod
will keep a close eye on the project over the next year.
It’s a wonderful tribute to a ‘buddy’ and an awe-inspiring experience, just
like so many others we’ve been involved in during our visits to Thailand.
Then again, we just wouldn’t expect anything less.