Let’s tackle the bad news first. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take lives while vaccines continue to remain out of reach for most people. Thailand is reporting that only 5.2% of its population has been fully vaccinated. Due to the increasing number of infections here in Chiang Mai, our local government is re-implementing measures to keep us safe. What does this mean to our club and the people who rely on our help? I like to think it means we have to continue thinking about steps we can take to serve our community when and where it’s possible, responsible, and safe to do so.
The two new public safety restrictions being re-implemented most relevant to our club are the closure of public swimming pools and schools that don’t have the resources to teach their students online – which includes the eleven municipal schools where we run our annual School Vision Screening Project. While the launch of this year’s SVSP is still a few months away, the closure of public swimming pools means we’ve had to temporarily suspend our Children’s Water Safety & Drowning Prevention Program (CWSDPP). To date, this program has taught 15+ hours of lifesaving emergency swimming skills to over 2000 local children. Drowning remains the leading cause of death for Thai children.
Despite increasing restrictions, we’ve stayed busy this past month by supporting the Work Kitchen Project and helping sponsor food programs throughout Chiang Mai. Moving forward, we’re currently exploring the possibility of getting involved with Northgate Jazz Co-op’s free food initiative. This program aims to provide both cooked meals and staples to anyone who walks in, especially mothers, fathers, and children. While our club’s mission continues to be to improve Child Safety, Health, and Education here in Northern Thailand, we also continue to recognize food security as being tied to all three.
In addition, we also received an appeal for funding from our long-time project partner, the Mae Tao Clinic. Due to their geographic location and because they are a border clinic (meaning they treat patients living in both Thailand and Burma), they are reporting new challenges caused both by the pandemic here in Thailand and the political instability in Myanmar. Recently, the Thai government designated MTC, a privately funded facility, as the field hospital for COVID-19 patients in the area. This mandatory re-designation meant they had to suspend their regular essential medical services. Unfortunately, this has led to many donors redirecting resources to organizations inside Myanmar and has left the clinic with budget shortfalls. Thanks in no small part to our friends in the community who brought this to our attention, the generosity of our Club Members, and our quick-to-act Board Members, we’ve already donated at least 80,000 baht, with more on the way. If you wish to donate, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, during the month of July, we attended the 2021 Virtual District 3360 Conference and District Recognition Awards Ceremony on July 25, 2021. The club was represented by Charter President Roger Lindley, President-Elect Viki Thomason, and me. In addition to awards, our club received several honorable mentions including recognition for our ongoing support to the Koung Jor Refugee Camp’s Nursery School Lunch Program (screenshot from the meeting, above). We received awards for the Rotary Presidential Citation 2020-2021, Every Rotarian Every Year (EREY), and 100% Club Foundation Giving.
In regard to club business, Senior Leadership spent the month continuing to work with the club’s attorney in forming the upcoming Chiang Mai International Rotary Club Foundation. The officers for the foundation will be Roger Lindley as Chairman, Bill Trempus as Vice Chairman, Bill Pierce as Secretary, and Nancy Lindley as Treasurer. I’ve heard it said that starting a foundation is a sign of a maturing club, and it’s your work, as club members and friends, that helped us get to this point. Without you, there is no Chiang Mai International Rotary Club or Foundation.