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Doi Chang Akha community documents language and culture thanks to U.S. grant

Chutima Meeju Morlacku presents a certifcate of achievement and a token of appreciaton to one of the 83 year old elders in the village who took part in the documenation.

By Shana Kongmun
The Akha people of Baan Doi Chang proudly revealed the efforts of the past fews; to compile and create an Akha dictionary, the first time ever done so by the Akha people. The U.S. Embassy presented the grant to the Mekong Akha Network for Peace and Sustainability (MAPS) under the Inter Mountain Peoples Education and Culture in Thailand Association (IMPECT) on September 1, 2010 by then U.S. Consul General Susan Stevenson. The $82,928 grant ranked as the highest among countries in East Asia and the Pacific region in 2010 and was given to preserve Akha culture under the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation to support documentation of Akha cultural rites, as well as literacy training and cultural and educational programs for Akha youth.

Vice Consul Amir Masliyah joins the village elders and other members of the community who took part in the project to document Akha culture and language.

On August 23, Vice Consul Amir Masliyah, representing Consul General Michael Heath, visited Baan Doi Chang to see the results of the work and meet the many faces behind the project. Mr. Jianhua Wang, Regional Coordinator of MAPS introduced the project which involved the the completion of the Akha culture preservation work by Dr. Jianhua and his team which has successfully documented traditions and rituals, books and songs, Akha family histories, and has bolstered literacy training and the preservation of Akha culture and communities.
Vice Consul Amir Masliyah said, “I feel incredibly lucky to represent the US Consul General today who actually prepared to join you, but had a prompt mission and extends his apologies and greetings to you all today too. He himself looks forward to future opportunities to discover your village to see and learn about this community firsthand as a representative of the United States.”

Vice Consul Amir Masliyah took part in a traditional Akha dance after the ceremonies.

He added that the project not only extends the close relationship between the Akha community and the United States but also the friendship with Thailand which remains strong.
Before moving on to the village to take part in the Akha Swing Ceremony, he closed by saying, “It is my hope that the produced project materials will remind you that Thailand and the world value Akha culture, and we all thank you for continuing to care for it.”

Women dress in their finest clothing before sitting in the swing and then sing as they swing as high as possible.

Dr. Jianhua explained that this annual ceremony was originally a courting ceremony, with Akha women looking for a man who could swing high and show no fear. The Akha girls would dress in their finery and swing and sing at the same time, with the Akha men also looking for a strong and fearless woman on the swing.
The entire village also takes part, including the village elders, who sing traditional songs as they swing into the sky.

The Akha Swing Ceremony sees men standing on the rope to swing as high as possible. Vice Consul Amir Masliyah gives the swing a try.

The new books and Akha dictionary are the first ever created and documented by the Akha people.


People in need receive glasses from Rotary and Amigo Vision

Three generations in one family are thrilled with their new glasses.

By Shana Kongmun
Chiang Mai International Rotary Club and Amigo Vision Thailand met with local migrants and residents recently at Thai Freedom House to assess their needs for glasses and found that many were in need, including a few of the younger students who needed glasses before heading off to school. On Friday August 15, 2014 they returned to Thai Freedom House to distribute the glasses. The group received the lenses and frames at no charge from Hoya and Stichting Zienderogen.
The organization can always use more good quality frames and will be meeting with disadvantaged people in Mae Hong Son on December 24, 2014.
A total of 49 people came to receive glasses, both prescription strength and reading type glasses and showed their great appreciation at finding their lives so greatly approved by being able to see the world around them more clearly. (Photos courtesy of Roger Lindley)

This man sees all the world’s new possibilities.

T.J. Bouma of the Chiang Mai International Rotary Club shares a changed life at Thai Freedom House.


Indian Community donates blood to the Red Cross

Nurses from the Chiang Mai Red Cross check blood pressure before administering the blood test. Potential donors are screened for any serious health issues before being allowed to donate.

By Shana Kongmun
The local Indian Community of Chiang Mai saw local businesspeople come together at the Namdhari Gurudwara Chiang Mai on Friday August 22, 2014 to donate blood to the Red Cross Chiang Mai in honor of the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. Led by Ranjeet Singh, members of the local community gathered to enter the Red Cross bus and donate blood. One man has donated 31 times and hopes to make it to 36 donations where he will be honored with the presentation of a pin of appreciation by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on World Red Cross/ Red Crescent Day on May 8.
Fifty-five people came to donate on August 22 but only 33 people were suitable to donate, so many disappointed faces were turned away, said President of the Indian Community of Chiang Mai Ranjeet Singh. He also donated, as a valuable AB donor, he is in great demand, noting he has registered with the Red Cross and often gets a call asking to come in and donate in urgent cases.
He urged people to not just donate but to also register with the Red Cross, noting that it is one of the best ways to help someone truly in need.

Indian Consul Dhirendra Singh Garbyal chats with President Ranjeet Singh as he donates blood. The Consul could not donate at the time for health reasons but was happy to come and show support.

Members of the Indian Community gathered with Consul Dhirendra Singh Garbyal for a group photo before giving blood.


Beautiful Tamarind Village hosts Skålleagues

Skål members and guests pose for the group photo at the Tamarind Village on August 28, 2014.

By Shana Kongmun
The charming Tamarind Village team, led by General Manager Naphat Nutsati welcomed Skål members and guests on Thursday, August 28, 2014 for their August meeting which featured Khun Inthaphan Buakeow, Manager of the Thailand Creative & Design Center speaking about the Chiang Mai Design Week, which takes place at various locations around Chiang Mai from the 6th to 14th December, 2014. K. Inthaphan noted that really wants the community involved in this so that they interact and learn more about the arts. There will be workshops for people as well as exhibitions and performances.
The group also announced the new Skål logo as well as the upcoming Skål Chiang Mai trip to Yangon for a twinning ceremony with Skål Yangon. Tickets for the popular annual charity dinner are now on sale announced President Tim McGuire, the event, which will be held on December 11 at 137 Pillars House. Tickets will be on sale at the hotel as well as at Skål meetings.
Additionally Skål member and former President Marc Dumur and FERC (Foundation for the Education of Rural Children) Fundraiser will be held at David’s Kitchen on September 11, 2014. Other announcements included the upcoming TEDx event, scheduled for September 27 at Le Meridien Chiang Mai and Frank and Vanita Sethi’s Bollywood Fundraiser party for the North Eastern Autistic School on October 18, 2014.
Before adjourning to enjoy a wonderful Thai dinner Chris Chun won the lucky draw of dinner for two at Tamarind Village and Dominque Leutwiler won a one year subscription to the Chiang Mai Mail. Certificates of appreciation were given to the speaker as well as Naphat and the Tamarind Village team and Toby Allen of Oasis Spa and K. Naphat of Tamarind Village led the group in the Skål toast. (All photos by Nopniwat Krailerg)

Host of the evening, General Manager Naphat Nutsati welcomes Patrick and Ed Hennessey to Tamarind Village.

Alberto Cosi and Chris Chun introduce themselves to Syahreza Ishwara, General Manager of Anantara Chiang Mai and Sawitree Daorueng of I Don’t Know Restaurant in Mae Rim.

Kishore Ladsaria joins Frank and Vanita Sethi and Toby Allen before the dinner.

Skål President Tim McGuire is joined by new member General Manager of Anantara Chiang Mai Syahreza Ishwara and Sawitree Daorueng, owning partner of “I Don’t Know” Breakfast and Pizza Restaurant at Mae Rim, the sister restaurant of “Steak of The Day” owned by Chef Rewat the Ex Four Seasons Executive Chef.

President of Skål Chiang Mai and the North Tim McGuire welcomes members and guests to the dinner at Tamarind Village.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Doi Chang Akha community documents language and culture thanks to U.S. grant

People in need receive glasses from Rotary and Amigo Vision

Indian Community donates blood to the Red Cross

Beautiful Tamarind Village hosts Skålleagues