June 2020 Message from the President
The big story in Thailand, as in much of the world, continues to be the Covid-19 pandemic, and the disastrous impact it has had on practically every segment of the economy and every-day life. We recently learned that many of the restrictions on travel will continue through the month of June and there is no talk of the resumption of international flights into Thailand until after July 1. The lockdown has been effective in controlling the spread of the disease in Thailand and especially here in Chiang Mai where there has not been new Covid-19 cases in weeks. BUT tourism, a huge component of the economy, here in Chiang Mai is completely shut down. The numbers of people now unemployed is in the tens of thousands and most of these people were low paid and living day-to-day. Many hardworking families are now faced with poverty and hunger through no fault of their own.
I am proud to say that our Chiang Mai International Rotary Club members and our local partners and friends have been working hard to help meet the critical needs of the poor and hungry here in our Northern Thailand community. We began in March by raising money for our food initiative; over 300,000 baht has been raised so far and another 100,000 baht has been pledged by Rtn Kim White’s Road to a Better Life Foundation. Our members and our friends have been very generous in this time of need!
We then sought out our trusted community partners, beginning with our Children’s Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Program partners at Bronco Kids Sport Club-Kru Payu Swim. Their pools were closed for the lockdown and their swim instructors and club staff had created a food distribution program for about 500 poor unemployed people each day. The lines were so long that they had to request help from the municipality to ensure social distancing was maintained. Each person in line received a lunch, 2 kilo bags of rice, fresh fruit, noodles, water, and juice, plus other items such as canned fish, cooking oil, etc. funded by our CMIRC cash donations and direct donations of food and money from many other kindhearted people. We estimate the cost of purchased items at 50 Baht/person/day. We used 140,000 baht from our donors’ gifts for this program. So, we helped provide 2,800 food packages and meals at the Bronco Kids-Kru Payu-CMIRC program over a period of 3 weeks. The pools and gyms at Bronco Kids are opening up again on June 1, so our amazingly generous and hardworking swim teachers and Bronco Kids staff will not be free to volunteer any longer, so this program is now closed.
Next, we sought out Philanthropy Connections our long-time partner in providing winter clothing and school supplies in the poor mountainous areas surrounding Chiang Mai. Their director, Sallo Polak, helped us identify Shan refugee villages in Chiang Mai Province. Thus far we have donated 100,000 baht through the Philanthropy Connections Foundation and the Shan Women’s Action Network providing meals for the poor and unemployed families who were forced to return home to their villages in Fang and Wiang Hang Districts. In the villages, food packages including rice, cooking oil, canned fish, and fruit were distributed. We are currently allocating an additional 50,000 Baht for school lunches at the Koung Jor Nursery School just outside the Shan refugee camp in Wiang Hang District.
CMIRC also reached out through our members to identify other food initiatives. At Why Not Restaurant; where they fed between 120 and 150 people every day, we were able to sponsor over 700 meals (below, left). Other members knew the Sunday meal program at Kitchen-7 Restaurant, which serves over 125 meals every Sunday to the poor. CMIRC sponsored 4 of their Sunday meal programs or about 500 meals.
Then we then learned that President Dave McComas and his wife Ella of the Chiang Expats Club were providing Pantry Packs of staples to poor families at Wat Pa Phaeng. These are substantial packages with around two weeks of basic supplies. CMIRC sponsored fifty Pantry Packs and we also helped distribute them.
Finally, we asked our municipal school partners who help us with our survival swim program for 4th graders, if they could identify a school where families were very poor and would need food packages of staples. They identified a nursery/elementary school, Wat Gate Karam School, and we have allocated 50,000 baht of the money pledged by the Road to a Better Life Foundation.
So, we at CMIRC are working hard and doing what we can to help our community in these difficult times with the help of our community partners, and our generous donors.
WE NEED TO CONTINUE SUPPORTING THESE PROGRAMS! The lockdown and resulting unemployment, poverty, and hunger will continue until the end of June at least. Do you want to help? Please contact our CMIRC Treasurer, Nancy Lindley to arrange to make a donation at NLLindley@msn.com.
Welcome to CMIRC
Using Zoom, we were able to welcome a new member to CMIRC at a virtual meeting. Her name is Shirley (Chili) Humphrey and she is a very experienced educator, just arriving in Chiang Mai after 10 years of teaching English at a Chinese university. This was the first new member induction that CMIRC has done at a virtual Zoom meeting. We were honored to have Rotary District Governor Kamolsak and Assistant District Governor Saran also there on-line to welcome Chili to CMIRC and Rotary. Later Charter President Roger, President-Elect Clarence and I were able to give her a Rotary pin and business cards in person when we met for lunch.
Dear readers, if you are excited about supporting meaningful service in a part of the world and at a time when children still have many unmet basic needs, contact me and I will tell you how you can join us and/or support us in our efforts to improve Child Safety, Health and Education in Northern Thailand: firstname.lastname@example.org.