The Rotary International theme for February is Peace and Conflict Prevention. As a member of a club operating here in Northern Thailand, I can’t help but think of all the migrants and refugees who we come into contact with – most of whom are living here to escape (often oppressive and deadly) conflict in their home country. I like to throw out challenges in my monthly Presidential Message, and this month is no different. Please consider spending time to think about what you can do to reduce conflict in your life and help increase peace at home and right here in our community. Peace is more than just the absence of war.
In January 2022, Rotarian Bill and Nicha Trempus continued to work on the CMIRC “Free Food For The Poor” Initiative. They assembled and donated survival food packets to migrant work camps in Chiang Dao and Hang Dong and gave basic non-perishable food staples to the Urban Light Foundation on behalf of the Chiang Mai International Rotary Club.
The Children’s Winter Clothing Appeal Project, which I co-champion with my wife, Viki, completed two deliveries in January. Our trip to a Karen hill tribe in Sop Khong, Omkoi District of Chiang Mai Province was highly eventful. It would be an understatement to say that the village was hard to access – my family got stuck overnight and we had to enlist help from the local government to tow us up the mountain. Needless to say, we got home and plan to complete our final delivery in the next few days.
Club Secretary and Project Champion, Nick Dale, has continued to work on our “Teddy Bear” Initiative and has successfully gotten more teddies into the arms of their new owners. Project Champion Nick has also established “Teddy Land” (fancy name for a storage room!) inside his home to house teddies that are still awaiting deployment.
New patients (all children) have arrived at the Burma Children Medical Fund’s B.K. Kee Patient House. Project Champion and Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Pierce, Secretary Nick and his spouse, Pink, dropped off supplies twice, but could not stay and socialize with the patients and caregivers due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Charter President Roger Lindley, Treasurer Nancy Lindley, Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Pierce, and Rotarian Bill Trempus continued their work to help form a foundation to support our long-term efforts of improving children’s safety, health, and education in Northern Thailand.
Even though government schools remain largely closed, we’ve made some progress with the club’s School Vision Screening Project. Project Champion John Schorr, Rotarian Clarence Shettlesworth, and our soon to be inducted Honorary Member, Phijitra Schorr, spent time meeting with Project Partners Optician One of Chom Jun Optic and Ophthalmologist Dr. Tayakorn Kupakanjana (aka dr. Nickie) at the St. Peter Eye Hospital in preparation for the reopening of schools.
We also received news that a friend to our club, Wessel Veenstra from the Rotary Club of Franeker (Netherlands), has returned to Thailand to continue his on the ground work with The ONE Award nominee and finalist Avis Rideout. Ms. Rideout runs Nikki’s Place Agape Home, an orphanage for young HIV patients here in Chiang Mai.
Currently, the COVID-19 vaccination rate in Thailand is 68.7%, which puts us well above the world average at 52.1% and higher than the United States at 64%. Nevertheless, following the COVID-19 advisory by the Chiang Mai government, the CMIRC Board of Directors has voted once again to delay returning to in-person meetings until February 15. Your safety is important to us.
In closing, I’m pleased to announce that barring any unexpected upticks in COVID infections or restrictions on travel, our District Governor, Jirayuth Hirunyawat, is planning to visit our Chiang Mai International Rotary Club on February 15, 2022. The District Governor will first meet with the Board of Directors before joining our customary meeting at 7 PM. If you’re a member of the club planning to attend, please remember to wear your Rotary shirt and follow CMIRC’s updated COVID safety policies (distributed via email on February 8th).