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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

A glimpse into what it takes to produce rice for the world

Chinese Chance, Year Of The Snake (Part Three)

Belting out the Bhangara beat

Tourist sites in Chanthaburi

L.A.’s Street of Dreams

Reaching out to Pattaya’s disadvantaged children

A glimpse into what it takes to produce rice for the world

by Vichan Pladplueng

Rice is the staple food in this part of the world, and its cultivation has been a mutual endeavor for centuries. Anthropologists have found evidence in Thailand confirming that rice was cultivated in more than 108 areas now covering 37 provinces some 5,500 years ago.

Today, rice is still grown in every part of Thailand, and the central region, known as the “rice bowl”, is the chief area for rice agriculture.

Rice harvesters of the future? Or will they opt for factory work instead?

The hard work going into producing rice is well known - rice-farmers have gained the distinction as being the backbone of the nation.

Families and community members, young and old alike, combine efforts to bring in the harvest. The collective process is still carried on in many areas, but in Pattaya the trade is fading away. A 58-year-old resident of Pattaya, Mrs. Bunchu, reminisced of the days when east of Beach Road going out of Central Pattaya to Sukhumvit and all the way to Na-Jomtien and Naklua was all cultivated fields, with rice being the main crop. “The day’s work started with getting up before sunrise and ended just before the sun went down,” she said. “Many farmers built small shelters (krathom) near the rice fields to take a break from the mid-day heat, or use as a retreat where they could make afternoon meals. They planted vegetable gardens nearby and some people often stayed overnight until the harvest was complete.”

Mature rice, nearly ready to harvest

Mrs. Bunchu said it was mainly the older people tending the rice fields once the rice started growing, “but at harvest time young and old people alike joined the work. Families would help each other cut the rice (kiaw khao) before it toppled over; this collective effort was called “loong khaek”.”

“As hard as planting and harvesting rice is,” she said, “to those never going into the field the combined effort would almost appear enjoyable, because among the smiles commonly known in Thailand there is much laughter, joking, singing and many stories are told while toiling in the fields.”

Harvested rice, lying out in the sun to dry

“Over the past few decades,” Mrs. Bunchu explained, “buildings, hotels and businesses began to replace the rice fields, until the fields disappeared from Pattaya almost entirely, leaving only a few areas still having rice fields in the surrounding communities.”

As the city grew and the rice fields began disappearing, investors moved in, bought up the land, and rice cultivation in the area became nearly extinct. Investors now own many areas once owned by families, and the local people are hired to do the laborious work cultivating highly improved strains of rice that promise high yields.

An “old fashioned” thrasher to separate the rice “corns” from their shells

“A good many of the younger people from families originally from Pattaya have never known the toil associated with growing rice,” Mrs. Bunchu says, “and most would turn away from even the thought of doing such laborious work. The younger generation would rather find other work as laborers, even though the work may be just as hard. Most young people seek employment in factories where the pay is better.”

Methods of planting rice

Planting rice is done in three different methods called “yod”, “dam” and “wan”. The method used depends on soil conditions and the type of rice grain planted. The method called “karn tham na yod” refers to poking a hole in the ground with a stick, placing grains of rice in the hole, and covering the hole over with soil. This is done at the beginning of the rainy season. This method is used at higher elevations where soil conditions do not retain water.

“Old style” wagons used at harvest time

The method called “karn tham na dam” is suitable in lower areas where rain is more plentiful and soil conditions are good for retaining water. The soil is ploughed and harrowed smooth whilst waiting for the suitable time to transplant young shoots of rice that have been pre-planted in small, separate paddies. (The method used to pre-plant involves throwing the grain out into the smaller paddies by the fist full). Transplanting the young shoots is a backbreaking task, more demanding than the poking a hole with a stick method, which is done with a stick long enough so one can stand upright while another person follows behind dropping the rice grain in the holes. Transplanting requires constant back bending whilst grasping a number of stalks held together, inserting them into the ground using the thumb to dig a hole, one bunch at a time.

Today, rice farmers use more modern thrashers to husk the rice

“Karn tham na wan” is an easier method used in areas where water is readily available from a nearby source. The dry rice grains are tossed into the paddy areas after thoroughly plowing and harrowing the ground smooth. Water is then released into the paddy in suitable amounts, keeping the ground moist without drowning the new shoots. A drawback to this method is the exposure of the plants to ground insects, and weeds attacking the plants before the paddy can be completely filled with water.

Farming families participating in a “long khaek” - the collective effort of helping each other cut the rice (kiaw khao) before it topples over.

Another method is soaking the dry rice grains for a few days until sprouting and then planting them similar to the way it is done with the dry grains being tossed and scattered in the fields or paddies.

Types of rice

Researchers have found other evidence identifying three types of rice that were commonly grown between the 11th and 20th centuries. The first, called large grain rice (khao malet yai), is a glutinous variety of rice grown at higher elevations where water remains for a shorter period. The large grain rice matured quicker, and did so during the short time there was water.

Harvesting rice is backbreaking work

A second type, a shorter, oval shaped grain of glutinous rice (khao malet pom) is grown in lower elevations where water is available for a longer duration.

The third type is a tapered rice grain (khao malet riaw) or fancy long grain rice (kaho chao). The type grown depended on the time of year, the elevation and the amount of rainfall in the area.

Today, the glutinous varieties are grown in the north and northeastern regions with the tapered variety mainly grown in the south and central regions. The glutinous rice variety known as “khao malet yai” is no longer used to a great extent. People that can identify the different grains of rice are also disappearing.

With wide-brimmed hats shielding them from the sun, villagers often sing, joke, laugh and tell stories to ease the burden.

Many strains of rice have been developed in Thailand. Some strains for certain conditions and situations can be harvested in around three months time, whilst other strains take up to six months before they are ready for harvesting.

Jasmine rice (khao hom malee) from Thailand is well-known around the world and first gained notoriety in 1933 after it received a number of awards in competitions in Regina, Canada. Jasmine rice is special long grain rice known for its quality all over the world. This type of rice brings in billions of baht in export sales each year.

Final note: Thailand, the world’s leading rice exporter, is showing indications of increasing production by 2%. Farmers hope to increase production by developing better strains of rice, better methods of fertilizing and improving irrigation methods.

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Chinese Chance, Year Of The Snake (Part Three)

by Anchalee


Snake-Aries (21 March-20 April): In this head-on collision of a person, fire meets fire. All the best qualities of Snakes, however, may be thwarted by the aggressive Aries’ intrusion. Snakes are slow moving, philosophical, luxuriating creatures. Aries never stops pushing at fate. The hefty dose of dual personality here, well handled, might permit the subject to wax creative in the best sense. If the Aries side of this character ever stops long enough to consider how much the deeper thinking side of himself has to offer, he could produce loads of fine work. The Snake does not adore action for action’s sake. To achieve happiness, in this case, he may have to put up with his share of what he considers wasted motion.

Snake-Taurus (21 April-21 May): What? A fire raging inside the earth? Call the fire department! (But take your time. We’ve got all day.) Snakes born under the sign of the bull will procrastinate, hesitate, fret, and fume for years before they erupt. But volatility, however controlled, is still volatility. Step lightly around these people. Artistic in the extreme, the Snake/Taurus may lie about for a while before he decides to strike. A determined Snake will probably have some gold coins under his mattress in preparation for that rainy day. Don’t ask him to hurry. He’ll only slough you off, or bite your head off.

Snake-Gemini (22 May- 21 June): Air feeds the fire of our Snake/Gemini. Everybody gets a piece of the action. A dedication to self discipline would help here. Too much fire, after all, can be destructive. One thing is sure, where Gemini flies off too easily in all directions at once, the Snake looks before he slithers. It is a sound match, providing for enormous versatility. Broadcasting, writing, the teaching profession, and diplomacy are suggested careers. This combination has every possibility for blazing the trail to the top of the ladder.

Snake-Cancer (22 June-23 July): This is one Snake who might be counted on to stay at home and attend to business. Cancer spritzes the fiery Snake with some good old fashion H2O. A smoulder with powerful grudges and a streak of possessiveness as long as a boa constrictor, this Snake could zap you from out of nowhere if you lift the wrong rock. He will not be the kind to let go, chalk it up to experience, and start all over again. A good provider with truckloads of affection, the Snake/Cancer makes a doting Jewish mother look downright aloof. If you enjoy having a pillow held over your face, marry one of these people. They are adorable as long as they are happy. Crossed, they will become moody and even dangerous.

Snake-Leo (24 July-23 August): Double fire signs are less liveable for those who own them than they are for the rest of us to tolerate. Life for the Snake/Leo person, despite the way it may seem to outsiders, will not be as easy as they may make it look. There is a great possibility for much personal suffering. These subjects are strong-willed and tough-minded. Adversity will not take the upper hand. Snake luck and Leo pluck will ultimately see them through. But the going won’t be smooth. The Snake contributes a surprising brand of Leo; soft spoken and outwardly calm. The fire rages inside. There’s nothing wrong with this Leo that a million dollars couldn’t cure.

Snake-Virgo (24 August-32 September): Earth warmed by the fires of an Indian Summer, these two signs share many common traits. Compatibility of spirit should make for a stable being. He may, however, be a trifle too meticulous, even downright picky. If he seems to be intruding, waiting on you hand and foot, organising your life against your will, it is because he must be allowed to be of service to those he loves, or he will perish from frustration. There is a lot of basic good in this person. Boost his morale. He could be seriously lacking in confidence.

Snake-Libra (24 September - 23 October): The fire waxes, blown by great gusts of heady winds. What with the Snake’s craving for beauty and Libra’s dire need for the same, one can expect to find an aura of unparalleled loveliness surrounding this subject. If not, you can be certain the Snake/Libra is searching for that idyllic atmosphere in which to balance his emotional budget. His quest will be a languid one. Yet, it is very real to him. A highly female overtone shades this character. He must be encouraged to do away with the small talk, take off some of that extra garb, and get down to some earnest work.

Snake-Scorpio (24 October - 22 November): Tidal waves of Scorpio water will tend to dampen the already slow burn of the Snake. Hesitation, self-doubt, and even self-destruction could result. Within one soul, both elements will be at odds to overcome the other. So much emotion and deep thinking may blacken the horizon. Detailed nightmares, sombre daydreams, and the like, do not necessarily have to be put to bad use. Instead, they must be channelled, nurtured and force-fed into creative activities. Remember that water will appear to burn quite brightly if you throw enough oil on its surface. Lubricate this subject’s life with a healthy dose of laughter. He is nature’s cynic.

Snake-Sagittarius (23 November - 21 December): Two energetic flames, side by side, licking at each other from time to time, make this combination a brilliant one. With ease and grace, this person will manage his own life in his individual way. He likes a clean house, a well filled bank account, healthy pursuits such as sports and long country walks. One slight hitch: the Sagittarius Snake may be as stubborn as a mule. Unbudgable and opinionated, in his own silent way, he always wins. Why? Because he really knows better. His way is best for him. If you cannot conform, he’ll search elsewhere for his ideal.

Snake-Capricorn (22 December - 20 January): These subjects are implacable. Fire and earth in harmony make them die-hards, tough nuts to crack, no nonsense people who push and shove obstacles aside. They have the necessary wisdom and strength to lick the world, and their Capricorn side gives them the wherewithal to accomplish great deeds. Mind you, they may be insufferable to live with. They take things personally and are insistent to a fault. They simply do not give up easily. They are winners.

Snake-Aquarius (21 January - 19 February): These Snakes will have to be on their guard against being extinguished by the air of Aquarius. A tendency to depression, perhaps even madness, haunts their lives. This very creative combination, given discipline and a good education, will overcome the rough edges. Each new situation will require they bring solid training with them. The inclination is to be flighty and irresponsible. They seem thoughtless. In reality, they are preoccupied. Hold their hands…if you can catch them.

Snake-Pisces (20 February - 20 March): This is a sensitive soul, indeed. There is more water than fire. Some way must be found to spur or warm or even jolly these subjects along. Pisceans have about all they can do from drowning in their own sorrows, anyway. Snakes are strong, but lack self-confidence. Both signs tend to slowness. The serpent hesitates. So does the fish. My advice is to buy a cattle prod and urge this subject along through his early life into a well-chosen career by the age of twenty-five. Otherwise he may never be able to rise from the depths of his wallowing. Early pushing is recommended, or else it may be too late.

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Belting out the Bhangara beat

The Scots may have their bagpipes and the French can have their Can-Can - but the Punjabi’s have the Bhangara, some of the wildest and most frenetic music in Asia.

To remind the local Sikh community of their Punjabi heritage, Naini Grover brought a visiting Bhangara band to Pattaya to play one night to a packed house in his Alibaba Tandoori and Curry Restaurant.

The visiting Bhangara band had people dancing at Alibaba

For those unfamiliar with the Bhangara music, it is provided by a keyboard player, a drummer (on four bongo drums), a base drummer (somewhat similar to the Thai long drums) and a singer complete with tambourine. These four musicians then belt out hypnotic rhythms that bring the crowd alive.

In Pattaya, the normally sombre faced Sikhs attacked the dance floor with a frenzy that would have made John Travolta and the Rolling Stones’ legendary Mick Jagger envious. Arms held on high, hands swaying, hips gyrating and gleaming teeth flashing smiles through the thick dark beards. It was obvious that the local Indian community liked their Bhangara; however, some visiting farangs were seen tapping out the rhythm on the tables too, and the braver even venturing into the swaying tangled mass of bodies on the dance floor.

If you ever get the chance to experience the Bhangara, you should seize it with both hands - and both feet, get those arms up and let it rip! The Bhangara beat has got you!

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Tourist sites in Chanthaburi

From ecology to shh... (cross the border gambling)

About 175 kilometers southeast of Pattaya lies the border province of Chanthaburi. With its rich culture and proud historical background, Chanthaburi is noted for beautiful landscapes and waterfalls surrounded by natural habitat, producing a variety of fruits (the province is well known for its durian), excellent grades of white and black pepper, and its many shops selling precious gems.

Thai-Cambodian border checkpoint

It becomes quickly apparent once arriving in the city of Chanthaburi that there are some similarities to Pattaya. It is a good size town with modern conveniences, but with two exceptions: it is much quieter and the pace is slower. The relaxed atmosphere is a major attraction in itself.

The inhabitants of the province are chiefly employed in agriculture, although there are also many scenic and tranquil beaches where many people are engaged in the fishing industry.

Tourist Destinations

Two of the province’s national treasures and popular tourist attractions are the Pliaw Waterfall National Park and the Khao Khichakud National Park, both having beautiful waterfalls, an abundance of tropical vegetation and a variety of wildlife.

Raised observation walkways in the coastal mangrove forest

Pong Nam Ron Rapids, a 12-kilometre stretch of waterway, offers a form of excitement for the more daring traveler looking for thrills. Ten boats, each manned by two skilled operators with up to eight passengers, can be hired to run the rapids.

The Thai-Cambodian border community of Ban Laem in Thepnimit Sub-district, 46 kilometers from Pong Nam Ron District, unfortunately has a scene familiar to Pattaya: many children from Cambodia on the streets begging and selling flowers and candies. The sad situation, perpetuated by decades of war and corrupt governments, pervades the recovering country and becomes even more prominent in one’s mind as tour guides and border guards advise no pictures be taken. Cameras have been confiscated from visitors and film removed. It is uncertain whether the ban on picture taking is because of embarrassment on the Khmer side of the border or the many casinos located just inside the border. The location is one of many border sites surrounding Thailand where gambling dens operate, with 90% of the clientele frequenting the casinos coming from Thailand.

Collection of pottery at the Underwater Museum

Laem Sing District, located near the coast, features highly intelligent dolphins that put on a magnificent show at the Oasis Sea World. The internationally famous Oasis Sea World is also well known for breeding two species of dolphins known as “Monk’s Bowl Head” and “Bottle Head” dolphins. Presently, there are 40 dolphins raised at Oasis Sea World.

Ban Tho Sya Samedngam and Ban Tho Sya Bang Sakaew are two communities recognized for producing handicrafts from fibers of a plant indigenous to the local area. The communities are just a short distance from the Oasis Sea World. Many of the people in the unique area are engaged in making floor mats of distinctive design from cultivated plants called “ton kok”. The mats are commonly found in Thai homes where they are placed on the floor for dining, receiving guests and conducting ritual ceremonies or a number of other uses. Other items made from the same material include baskets, handbags and decorative objects sold all over Thailand and exported out of the country.

Border market at Ban Laem

The “Ancient Underwater Museum” near Khai Nern Wong is the first of its kind in Thailand and the largest in Asia. The underwater museum consists of 38 ships and boats of various types that were sunk in the rivers and coastal waters. The underwater museum is under the administrative care of the Fine Arts Department, where historical evidence of each vessel has been researched by the Office of Anthropology, and four Fine Arts Departments in the National Museum that investigate and record the pottery and other objects found with each ship.

Handicraft village of Ban Tho Sya Bang Sakaew

The coastal mangrove forest reserves in Tha Mai District offer an educational experience observing the natural vegetation and wildlife along a network of raised walkways. The area is located in the Khungkrabeng Bay Research Development Center established by H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1988. The location recently received an award as a natural environment tourist attraction promoting and developing the tourist industry from the Tourism Authority of Thailand during its celebration of its 40th anniversary.

Oasis Sea World

Chanthaburi has many other interesting sites for travelers, including the gem shops in the provincial capitol, an ancient prison called the “Khuk Khi Kai”, hot springs in Pong Nam Ron, the Sirithan Dam, a “Prehistoric Man” anthropology site, and the many attractive beaches and islands off the coast.

For more information contact Jakrint Phudpong, the director of the TAT Central Region 4 Office (Trat, Chantahburi and Rayong), phone: (038) 655420-1 or e-mail: [email protected]

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L.A.’s Street of Dreams

by Chalerm Raksanti

Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood and Vine. Just the mere words call up images of fame and fortune, glamour and power. In the high-voltage core of Los Angles California, the 1.7-mile long “Sunset Strip” is a concentration of eccentricity which counts itself as the centre of the universe for latest trends. It is also a boiling caldron of poverty, vice and crime, spiced with the promise of undiscovered talent, and hopeful ‘wannabes’.

Sunset Boulevard at night

For approximately 24 miles, Los Angeles’ most famous street unites a series of communities of remarkably varied class and ethnic mix. From Olvera Street, where the city was born as a Spanish pueblo in 1781, Sunset Boulevard begins with Hispanic accents that gradually lessen as it passes through the immigrant sections of Echo Park and Silver Lake. It travels through Hollywood and West Hollywood, where the entertainment industry dominates. Then the street winds on through the formerly posh areas of Beverly Hills and Bel Air, where once dwelled the rich and glamorous stars of the silver screen. On it flows toward the affluent village of Pacific Palisades, and then it plunges to the sea south of Malibu.

The skyline of Los Angeles has sprouted a new crop of high-rise towers in the past two decades, and the city has become America’s financial capital for the prospering Pacific Rim. A new multi-billion dollar subway was finally completed, despite the horrific corruption scandals which plagued its construction. But even with the additions to public transport, the automobile still rules in the City of Angels. L.A. sprawls. Its official metropolitan limits signs span 45 miles in some sections.

Palm tree lined streets of Beverly Hills

Los Angels will never become one of the truly wondrous cities of the Western world in the way we see London, Paris, Berlin or New York. The city is fractured, and its people live in enclaves. It takes hours to get anywhere you really want to go. There is so much emphasis on personal success that it is impossible to find the leadership essential to make the city great. There is now, and always has been, a lack of singular purpose and focus in L.A. San Francisco has it. But Angelinos don’t have the unified spirit and the sense of identity which can pull the pieces of a dream together.

Sunset Boulevard is the one street that is most representative of Los Angeles. It has everything and everybody. Drawn by that almost indefinable concept of the American Dream, immigrants to the USA are turning the east end of Sunset Boulevard into an new version of New York’s Ellis Island. Many newcomers make their first homes in the cheap, rent-by-the-week tenements of Echo Park, a working class neighbourhood near the downtown area.

Olvera Street wishing well

On street corners, Latinos hawk produce from open carts. Storefronts advertise faith healers and sell religious amulets. In new mini-malls, Filipinos, Armenians, and Koreans struggle to pay the rent for small but ambitious businesses. If visitors want to see American’s famous melting pot in action, this is the place to witness it. In Los Angeles County, the Anglo-Saxon white is no longer the majority. Asians and Hispanics now out-number them by 59 percent. According to statistics coming in from surrounding school districts, there are more than 90 different languages and dialects spoken by enrolling students. School for some young people has become meaningless. Gangs have become more violent, and teenagers who think they can earn $10,000 a week selling drugs will not be enticed by education geared to work at a job.

As one heads out of Echo Park and Silver Lake, and enters Hollywood, a sense of obsession in the people who inhabit this area grows. Everyone here, no matter what they are currently working at, is really, someone else. Every waiter, store clerk, hotel maid, waitress and shop girl is waiting for their breakthrough into the entertainment industry. Songwriters, script writers, musicians, actors, aspiring models, TV stars, singers, comedians, all waiting for the lucky connection which opens the doors into the ‘big time’ and big money. They come from all over the country, from all over the world. Mostly they work at low paid jobs, some are starving and cold, others turn to prostitution and vice to make ends meet until their big break comes. This is where Sunset Boulevard turns into the Street of Broken Dreams and Egos. Hollywood is not like it is portrayed on TV or in the movies. But they don’t know that until they get there.


Just north of Sunset is a section of footpath where bronze-edged stars have been embedded in the sidewalk. Across each star has the name of an entertainment celebrity. These are those lucky few who attained the dream that Hollywood perpetuates. These stars twinkle with endless seduction. They are proof that fame and fortune still reside in this fantastic place, but they give no hint of where to find it. This section of the Boulevard is dirty, noisy, lined with shops selling cheap lingerie and leather. The human crush is a parade of the homeless, the crazies, crackheads, and punk teenagers with purple hair who panhandle the tourists. It is doubtful that this blight on humanity ever came here looking for fame and fortune, unless prostitution and drug dealing count as making a fortune, and a police blotter and a rap sheet count as fame.

Enterprising panhandler

The look of Sunset Boulevard changes abruptly as the street enters Beverly Hills and Bel Air. The homes are nicer and there are trees. Of course the truly famous celebrities don’t live in the mini-mansions anymore, but this is an affluent neighbourhood with its own school system and police force. As the street rambles on, it weaves through the truly wealthy area of Brentwood. Here is where you might find the rich and famous, if you could get through the security checks and the iron gates. Beyond Brentwood lies Pacific Palisades, Sunset Boulevard’s last enclave. This community is so far removed from the others, it hardly seems a part of any of the communities which went before it. And it isn’t. Most residents do not regard themselves as living in Los Angeles at all.

From here the end of the Boulevard rambles down to the sea and meets its end. This area enjoys a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean, cooling breezes, and an escape from the choking smog which is a characteristic of the L. A. Basin. Safe, clean and crime free, the residents dissociate themselves from Sunset Boulevard. Perhaps it is a fitting conclusion to the most famous street in Los Angeles. This is the end of the rainbow. Here is where the pot of gold may now rest.

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Reaching out to Pattaya’s disadvantaged children

Story and photos by Peter Cummins

What could be a better time to extend the hand of help and friendship to the legions of disadvantaged children in our Pattaya area than New Year? And what could have been a better image to carry into the New Year, on the eve of the new millennium, than the happy faces of former juvenile drug addicts at the Drug Rehabilitation Centre whose message was loud and clear: “Thank you for caring about us”.

Lodge Master Michael Mealyer, with Pol. Lt. Col. Jirat (L) and Peter Malhotra, explains the project

The Centre, officially known as the Baan Phoonsri Oupatham Drug Rehabilitation Centre opened in Pattaya in 1989. In March last year, Pol. Lt. Col. Jirat Pichitpai, director of the facility, made the chilling prediction “That Thailand’s amphetamine problem will increase to half a million addicts within the next 24 months”.

At that time also, Pol. Lt. Col. Jirat observed that, “over 20,000 young people have passed through the Centre, with addicts as young as nine years old having been assisted”.

Lodge and Rotary join forces

Just prior to New Year’s Eve, Lodge Pattaya West Winds and the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya visited the Centre to share New Year wishes with Pol. Lt. Col. Jirat Pichitpai and his legion of young residents.

“Happy New Year”: a time for giving

While there, Michael Mealyer, Master of the Lodge, revealed that the Lodge would initially provide materials, expertise and training for the establishment and maintenance of a motorcycle repair facility, to be built within the Centre compound.

Michael pointed out that there was an incredible percentage of Thai students who, for a number of reasons - principally financial - did not proceed to secondary education. Thus, this group, representing some 69 percent of the national student body - entirely composed of teenagers - has no skills to enable them to contribute to the work force or, in many cases, even to find employment.

‘Designer’ tee shirts for all

“It is, indeed, fortunate that Peter Malhotra will be succeeding me as Lodge Master in February, for that will ensure continuation of what we are starting here today,” Michael explained. “Brother Peter will organize a meeting of the West Winds Workshop Committee and the director of the German-Thai Institute to ensure the continuation of a longer-term training programme,” he added, predicting that the proposed workshop could well become a viable commercial enterprise.

“It is little wonder, then, that with no skills, no prospects and little self-esteem, many teenagers turn to drugs,” Michael noted in the rationale for establishing the workshop. “Those who have the courage for rehabilitation, which on average lasts three months, have really only snooker, basketball and watching television as outlets,” he added.

Assembled Lodge brothers and Rotarians mingle with the residents and staff of the Centre

Thus, the motorcycle repair facility was proposed as just one panacea for the void in these young men’s lives. The establishment of the workshop was but one way to help stem this imbalance. Other types of training such as woodwork, information technology and computers, metal-working and other useful crafts would follow, allowing this vulnerable group to become productively employed. Peter Thorand noted that the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya would assist the Lodge in its endeavour.

A year of assistance

The Lodge-Rotary collaboration to help young people in the Pattaya-Jomtien area, coming as it did on the penultimate day of the year, tended to highlight a particularly productive year in terms of assistance to the thousands of disadvantaged, abused and needy children, not just in this region, but all over Thailand.

“Thank you for caring about us,” says the spokesman of the group while Peter Malhotra looks on

Just one example is the forthcoming Pattaya Sports Club Charity Golf Classic which will be held at the Phoenix Course on the 19th of January. At last year’s Classic, the sum of Baht 410,000 was raised and donated to the Pattaya Orphanage Street Kids Centre. This new Boys’ Home is fully operational, located on 18 rai of land off the Siam Country Club Road. All proceeds from this year’s Classic will be channelled to constructing a Girls’ Home for Street Kids, adjacent to that of the Boys’ Home.

Over the past year, in fact, there have been so many charities and fundraising events to support the Eastern Seaboard children, that the Pattaya Mail is preparing a special supplement to record the generosity for posterity and to honour the donors - both corporate and individual.

Rotarian Peter Thorand presents funds to the director of the Centre

After discussions between Lodge West Winds and Jomtien-Pattaya Rotary Clubs at the Centre, a special New Year’s lunch was provided for all by Rotary and Rotarian Peter Thorand was the appropriate choice to present the funds to Pol. Lt. Col. Jirat.

The Lodge distributed shoes and Classic Tailor supplied tee shirts to the delight of all the residents of the Centre - all reformed drug addicts who, through the efforts of Pol. Lt. Col. Jirat and the goodwill of the community at large, will remain drug-free and move on to leading productive lives as responsible citizens. We will all gain from this.

It was, indeed, a precious time for the young men whose spokesman thanked all concerned, not just for the proposed training facility, the luncheon and the gifts but especially for the fact that “you care about us,” he said.

Happy New Year!

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