The Chiang Mai International Rotary Club completed the collection of donations for the annual Children's Winter Clothing Appeal on December 1. The response from the public has exceeded our greatest expectations and wildest imagination. In December, President and Project Champion Dylan remained busy delivering warm clothes, blankets, shoes, and toys to children and families living in isolated hill tribe communities, refugee camps, or impoverished settlements in Northern Thailand.
So far, we have distributed donations to thirteen remote, hard-to-access locations in seven Northern Thai provinces, namely Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Tak, Nan, Phayao, Mae Hong Son, and Uttaradit. Among the beneficiaries were refugees, hill tribes, migrants, and local villagers - people of Lua, Palong, Lahu, Lisu, Karen, Shan, Thai, Burmese, Kayan, and Mien origin. In addition, the Burma Children Medical Fund delivered donations on our behalf to newly displaced refugees in Mae Sot, Tak.
We have distributed donations to:
the remote Lua village of Phou Khe in Nan Province near the Laos border;
a 300-member Palong hill tribe on Doi Ang Khang mountain in Ban No Lae, Fang District in Chiang Mai Province;
a 500-member Lahu hill tribe in Ban Huai Ya Sai, in Mae Suai District of Chiang Rai Province, on the dangerous Myanmar border;
Mae La Refugee Camp with over 50,000 ethnic Karen residents, in Tha Song Yang District of Tak Province along the Burmese border;
the Ban Huai Muang Nursery School in Mae Na Wang, Mae Ai, Chiang Mai Province;
Ban Pong Noi Kao, a Karen village of 300 residents in Mae Win, Mae Wang District, on Doi Inthanon;
a 100-member Kayan Long Neck tribe and the nearby Baan Mai Naisoi Temporary Shelter Area (a refugee camp with 8,000 ethnic Shan residents);
Ban Pang Tham Sakha Ton Phung, a Mien village of 90 families in Rom Yen, Chiang Kham District of Phayao Province;
the Thai Ban Pang Makham Pom School, in San Sali, Wiang Pa Pao District of Chiang Rai Province;
the isolated Lisu hill tribe village of Ban Doi Chang with about 120 residents, located at 1,700 meters above sea level in Pai District of Mae Hong Son Province;
recovering patients of the Burma Children Medical Fund in Mae Sot, Tak Province;
the ethnic Lahu Ban Pha Pheok village in Pang Mapha District of Mae Hong Son Province, and
the waterfront Thai community of Ban Huai Ta, in the middle of the Queen Sirikit Reservoir in Tha Pla District of Uttaradit Province.
These trips often looked like a survival reality television show. President Dylan drove across rivers, navigated in river beds, and balanced on the spine of mountain ridges. He climbed down shaky ladders. He got lost looking for abandoned villages. He frequently lost internet and phone service and was often without access to toilets. Road conditions put horsepower, 4WD capability, and driving ability to the test. During his most epic journey, Dylan transported clothing donations by a two-hour boat ride to a community that was only accessible by the waterway surrounding the Queen Sirikit Dam. You can read more interesting details and watch videos of the delivery trips on the CMIRC Facebook Page and Instagram.
While one cannot measure the love wrapped up with each donated item, we decided on using commercial scales to weigh the bags before distribution. Not only do we want to be more transparent in our calculations, but we also want to be able to follow project growth. The weight of the donations we have delivered so far in 2021 amount to 8,259.62 kgs (18,209.35 lbs). We estimate that at least two more double truckloads of clothes, shoes, blankets, and toys are waiting distribution at the time of writing.
We cannot thank you enough for the help of our generous community, friends, and Rotarians. We are grateful for your contributions! Special thanks to the Rimping Supermarket chain, Makro, the Interact Club of Chiang Mai International School, the Interact Club of Unity Concord International School, and Lanna International School for making it possible for us to place our donation boxes on their premises. Extra credit goes to Jarus Print, C. T. S. Packaging, and Pern’s Foods for their impeccable service assisting our project. We are grateful for the assistance provided by Philanthropy Connections and the Burma Children Medical Fund.
Kudos to our supportive friends, families, and fellow Rotarians - in no particular order: Nick, Clarence, Roger, Bill P, Colin, Bill T., Nicha, and Myrna for participating in this truly community project. A big pat on the back for Dylan for his stamina and driving skills! Editor's Note: Special thanks, also, to Dylan's family. When it became obvious early in making deliveries that Google Maps couldn't be trusted to give accurate directions or estimates of trip times, they made sure he traveled with food, water, toiletries, clothing, camping equipment and often their company so that what was supposed to be a several hour trip could be a more tolerable overnight adventure.