- HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:
The Jesters Children’s Fair goes from strength to strength
Surviving the tsunami - Eighteen months later
A musical journey to the heart of the spirit
Lewis ‘Woody’ Underwood,
Soppin Thappajug, Jintana Wechchot, Pratheep ‘Peter’ Malhotra, Mayor
Niran Wattanasartsathorn and Graham Macdonald, at the ribbon cutting
The Jesters Children’s Fair gets bigger and better every year.
In 2005 the headline in Pattaya Mail was ‘Can it ever be better?’ Well
we now know the answer - it certainly can. And it was on Sunday 10th
September at the Diana Garden Resort & Driving Range.
The Diana Driving Range was in great condition and luckily the weather
was kind all day. So there was nothing to deter the enthusiasm of the
organizers, the eighty plus stallholders, the performers entertaining
throughout the day, and the many, many family fairgoers that came by for
part or the entire event.
Jester Kevin set it all up at the Diana Garden Resort & Driving Range,
for the fifth consecutive year, with his accustomed efficiency and good
humor. The Diana Driving Range is a venue that provides the best
facilities one could ever hope for to stage a major outdoor event such
as this. He planned the best layout yet, skillfully designed to welcome
fairgoers and make it easy for them to shop the stalls, relax in the
shaded areas, enjoy the activities, demonstrations and stage
performances and hear everything, thanks to a loud and clear sound
system from Bangkok. The fairgoers came in large numbers throughout the
day, many staying for the duration as there was something for everyone
in the family to enjoy, including the Children’s Raffle draw
mid-afternoon, with a fantastic range of prizes to be won.
The action packed day began at 10 a.m. with the opening ceremony. Lewis
‘Woody’ Underwood, Jesters Charity Drive committee chairman, gave a warm
welcoming speech acknowledging the enormous support from all the
sponsors, including the record breaking corporate sponsorship supporting
the Jesters Charity Drive this year of 23 Platinum, 21 Gold, 21 Silver &
36 Bronze sponsors.
Due credit was afforded individually to the honorary Jester committee
members who freely contribute essential skills, expertise and their time
to make the fund raising effort for ‘Care for Kids’ successful. The
ceremonial ribbon was cut by Mayor Niran Wattanasartsathorn, Sopin
Thappajug (managing director of the Diana Group and host to the
Children’s Fair), Lewis Underwood (chairman, Jesters ‘Care for Kids’
Charity Drive committee) and Graham Macdonald (JCD corporate sponsorship
director). Mayor Niran gave a welcoming address and the 2006 Jesters
Children’s Fair was officially open.
The colorful marching band from Pattaya School No. 2 played the National
Anthem and performed with precision and enthusiasm to open, and
conclude, the opening ceremony. Smaller children from Pattaya School
No.3 kindergarten gave their performance, and the Jesters MC was audibly
represented on gleaming Harleys by Ron Amero on a ‘Trike’, with Capt.
Paul Shortino and Jocke in escort.
Then it was over to emcees Neil Smith and Jester Pistol Pete (in Thai),
to keep things going at pace throughout the day, and they did just that.
Forty of the lovely kids from the Fountain of Life released colorful
balloons and later gave two beautiful performances representing the very
young and the older kids currently at the Center.
The Children’s Variety Show was first up ay 10.30 a.m. featuring the
Fountain of Life Children, orphans from Ban Jing Jai, the Mercy Center,
APEC 2003, ISE Overdrive band and Annie’s Band.
The Variety Show continued, on and off, throughout the day with great
live music and something for everyone.
At 12 noon it was time for a set of exciting children’s games in front
of the stage organized by the energetic Spencer Bragg, with Linden, Nick
and Isabelle and many prizes donated by the Minor Food Group, Double A
Logistics and Pattaya International Ladies Club. That was the first of
three children’s games sessions organized throughout the day. The
variety show was back on at half-noon with a Salsa Dancing show followed
by an action-packed Taekwondo demonstration by Ooi’s Taekwondo School
featuring students from Sriracha and Pattaya. The smallest student, blue
belt Samantha Franklin, performed disciplined Taekwondo martial arts
routines to conclude the show.
More Children’s games followed until it was time for
the next entertainment session, this time from Yvonne, Angela and KC,
the ISE Clarinets and the ISE Overdrive Band.
Then even more children’s games as the non-stop action continued. The
ever popular Climbing Wall and Bouncy Kingdom were busy throughout and a
new attraction, the cotton candy stall was a huge success.
The Children’s Activity area was again a special feature at the fair
providing the most fun for the younger ones. Primarily organized by the
local international school communities, these stalls featured all sorts
of fun and games. Staff, students and parents from Garden International
School, St Andrews International School, The Regent’s School,
International School Eastern Seaboard and Montessori Children’s Centre
turned out in force to support the ‘Care for Kids’ Charity Drive, and
This year the accent was again on ‘Lucky’ with lucky numbers, lucky
color wheel, lucky lollipops, lucky dips and lots more. The kids did not
go hungry either, as the Fountain of Life had set up a 144 sq. meter
‘Chow Hall’ providing a ‘fine dining’ facility for more than 500
children to enjoy. Far more meals than the Fountain of Life Sisters and
staff normally prepare for kids at the center. For the fairgoers there
were some 19 food stalls offering a wide variety of Western and Asian
food & snacks and something to satisfy every palate.
Children’s games continued then, at around 3 p.m., it was the
presentation of bicycles to ‘Best of the Class’ Fountain of Life kids
for Chris Kays Scholarship Fund, sponsored by Mark and Jack Gorda.
Meanwhile, the professional entertainers were back on stage and then it
was time for the children in age groups to ‘take the strain’ in the
exciting and well matched Tug-O-War.
The Children’s Raffle followed and featured 24 draw prizes, worth over
60,000 baht, generously sponsored by Pattaya Sports Club, Jester Neil,
Diana Group, Pattaya Trader, Capt Steve Ponter & Double A Logistics and
Brown Farm. The Children’s raffle raised over 123,000 baht, largely due
to the sterling work of Norm Aylward and Jesters at the beer tent,
Bernie Tuppin, my family ‘team’ of Tukata, Angy & Wendy, a much
appreciated effort by student teams from the International School of the
Regent’s, ISE, and staff from the Double A Logistics team, Plus Reina
and Neil from Bangkok Pattaya Hospital. The Children’s raffle prizes,
sponsors and winners are listed below.
The final hour of the fair was given to live music from Annie’s band and
Pop’s Pattaya All Stars, a final tour of the stalls and, for the
organizers and stallholders, a well deserved visit to the Jesters beer
tent for a cold Heineken, or the Blue Parrot for a few chilled
Margaritas, assuming there were any left at that late stage.
And, if it all got too exciting at any time, Bangkok Pattaya Hospital
nurses were there to give a free blood pressure check for adults and
children. Grateful thanks to the BPH Ambulance Unit too, for being on
station all day to deal with any mishaps or emergencies.
There was never a dull moment and certainly no lack of enthusiasm or
enjoyment throughout the day. In fact, from very early on one could
detect a real ‘buzz’ at the fair, and a great atmosphere that lasted to
the close, many fairgoers staying right to the end.
Sadly at 6 p.m. it was time to wrap, with the inevitable few lingering
on, sitting around, enjoying the live music with a relaxing drink,
wanting more, and wondering how the day had passed so quickly.
It had been another hugely successful Jesters Children’s Fair.
Truly a children’s day in a one-off ‘Children’s Park’ created uniquely
at the Diana Garden Resort & Driving range. It was a day for the whole
family to enjoy, and the only day of its kind throughout the year.
Finally, on behalf of the Jesters ‘Care for Kids’ Charity Drive
Committee, sincere thanks to all the fairgoer families and children that
came to support the Jesters Children’s Fair, the stallholders, the
schools, our Charity Drive partners - namely Baltex, Jameson’s, Pattaya
Mail and the Diana Group; all the 23 Platinum, 21 Gold, 21 Silver, and
36 Bronze corporate sponsors and Pledge program sponsors. And, not
least, Sopin and the Diana Group management for providing the Diana
Garden Resort & Driving Range facility for the fifth consecutive year.
Can it ever be better? Well, three Platinum sponsors have already
committed to 2007, but we will have to wait until then, when it is the
Jesters ‘Care for Kids’ 10th Anniversary Charity Drive, to find out!
The warriors at Ooi’s
Taekwondo School come in all sizes wearing belts from white to black,
but the smallest is blue belt Samm, here performing martial art
disciplines to close the exciting Taekwondo demonstration.
For some the strain might
have seemed too much, but nothing could beat the elation and sheer joy
of pulling the winning tug.
Roger Rabbit, occasionally
disguised as Del McCarrick, brings happiness and fun to the kids
whenever, and wherever, he entertains. The smiles on their faces say it
Mayor Niran welcomed
everyone, the Harleys roared, the school bands marched, the balloons
went up, the shows began, the live bands played, and it was non-stop
action and fun from start to finish.
Mayor Niran and Khun Sopin
were the first to buy towards the total of 123,000 baht raised in the
Children’s Raffle. Twenty four lucky winners and, thanks to Paul
Strachan, PMTV now has a helicopter.
It was a Family day, but
above all a special day for the kids. Many were there from charities the
Jesters support – the Fountain of Life, Ban Jing Jai and the Mercy
|Jesters Children’s Raffle Winners 2006
‘The Mist’ 3.5
Electric Barbeque & Grill
Computer Rice Cooker
bag & 30 golf balls
DVD Player & Speakers
The Bouncy Castle and world peace
Dr. Iain Corness
The Jester’s Children’s Fair has been and gone, giving us all
another wonderful day arranged by its hard-working committee. There were
just so many happy children, and consequently happy adults that could be
seen enjoying each other’s company at the Diana Gardens last Sunday.
children, of ages ranging from toddlers to young teenagers, of many
different nationalities, colors and creeds, all playing on the Bouncy
Castle, provided a wonderful lesson in international relations.
There appeared to be more stalls than ever, with a great choice of
different foods, as well as different activities being put on by the
schools in particular. This was an event where the many strata in the
Pattaya (and Eastern Seaboard) community pulled together for all our
children, needy and otherwise.
My two and a half year old Marisa, is now just big enough to enjoy such
activities, though obviously one of the younger ones, and it was
while watching her at the Bouncy Castle, that something really struck
me. There were around thirty children, of ages from my Marisa upwards to
young teenagers, of many different nationalities, colors and creeds, all
Not only playing, but helping each other get up after a tumble, laughing
together and looking out for each other. A multinational, multicultural
mix of children that could show us adults what we seem to be unable to
do. Work, live and play in harmony.
If we adults could only act with friendliness towards each other on the
‘bouncy castle’ of Mother Earth, our planet would be a much better place
on which to live.
I have to thank all the girls and boys who assisted my little girl,
making sure she enjoyed the Jesters Children’s Fair as much as they did.
It was a lesson in international relations we all need to consider.
Surviving the tsunami - Eighteen months later
Edifix, the community dog
that also responds when I call him Weetabix-1.
Story and photos by Sue K
After the tsunami hit the coast of Thailand in 2004, my daughter and I,
both being trilingual, wanted to go down to help. We registered our
names with the Red Cross, but were never called as they were inundated
with people who also wanted to help.
It’s been more than one and a half years since then. The most I have
seen of the devastation was on TV and in the papers. That was until
recently when I was asked by Walter Kretschmar, the director of TGI/ITS
to help him assess the training needs of the villagers at the Academy
and Community Center; a project which he had initiated and was supported
by Siemens, German Industries, VEC and the governor of Phang Nga.
The center’s purpose is to provide vocational training for the people,
which, with the cooperation from the hotels and businesses in the
province, provides on the job training and employment.
Just before I left, some people told me that it was a waste of time and
that hardly anyone will come for the training assessment as they are
just villagers who want to make a living, not spend time studying.
As it turned out, more than thirty people came for the English language
assessment program, and quite a number for Bakery classes, IT and
Telephone Maintenance, and even for German language.
All had one thing in common. They want to better themselves in
vocational skills to be able to get work and bring some income to their
surviving families that have suffered from the loss of their
breadwinners, or their own jobs being washed away by the tsunami.
The youngest survivors
need education and information to ensure the future of Khao Lak.
Driving through Khao Lak town, traces of physical
devastation were hardly visible, with most hotels renovated and
beautified, roads re-built, and shelters erected. It was only after I
talked to the people that it became apparent that the emotional
devastation is still very real.
I had a chance to talk with a hotel receptionist in Khao Lak, a girl of
25 years, who was one of the few that miraculously survived the giant
wave that took the lives of thousands of people.
Nam Fon Thong Nim used to take a bus from Takua Pa, where she lived with
her parents, to work at one of the resorts in Khao Lak. She was a
receptionist and cashier. One of the duties she had was to be the
hostess at the breakfast area. She loved taking care of the guests and
loved watching them playing volleyball on the beach.3
Nam Fon did not know that one particular day was to be tragedy bound.
“26th December 2004 was just a normal day for me; Sun, sand and friendly
guests. Then at about after 10 a.m., I looked behind me and the water in
the sea had receded. All I could see were rocks, mud, and fish jumping.
The foreigners tried to catch the fish, and that drew crowds from the
hotel to come down to see them.
“I think it took about 7-8 minutes after that when I looked out to the
horizon and saw the waves coming in again and suddenly it became higher
than the police guard boat and swallowed it. Seconds after that I heard
people shouting, ‘Run! Run! Run!’
I ran back to the stone steps to go up to the lobby.
I had to walk up the steps to about 3 storeys high. As I started the
first few steps I looked back to the horizon and saw that the water was
coming, but still very far away. I thought I had plenty of time, but
sped up anyway. As I reached the last step and thought I had made it, I
looked back once again as I heard an indescribable noise from the sea,
like a convoy of ten wheelers dragging hundreds of logs, and just inches
behind me was a massive and completely black wall that grew higher than
my height. In a split second it overwhelmed me, pulling me into the
Fon: “I opened my eyes, but couldn’t see a thing in the thick, black
“I was conscious but felt like somebody huge had lifted my body and
thrown it against a cement wall many times. I know I must have hit the
cliff at least 3-4 times. I raised my hand up but couldn’t scream, my
mouth was full of sand, mud and grit, and I could not even shut it. My
body was thrust against hard objects and my lungs were compressed.
“I opened my eyes, but couldn’t see a thing in the thick,
black churning water and my body was being pummeled by what felt like
blocks of cement.
“I felt death. All I could think about was my mother and Luang Pho Khao
Lak, the spiritual father of Khao Lak that I believe in and worshipped.
“I ran back to the stone
steps … about 3 storeys high … as I reached the last step and thought I
had made it, just inches behind me was a massive and completely black
wall that grew higher than my height.”
“I felt like I was in the water for some several minutes until the wave
pushed me up. I remember I saw a foreigner in a blue shirt standing at
the edge of the cliff next to the steps where I had been standing
before. He scooped me up like he was lifting a baby. After that
everything just blacked out. I never found out who the man was or how to
“When I came to, I was laying on the ground on the hillside. People were
gathering bodies and the injured onto a pick-up truck to transfer to
hospitals. I was among them. My skirt was all torn up. I asked them to
take me to Takua Pa instead. I just wanted to go home.
area now has maps to show escape routes in case another tsunami should
“They had to take a detour because all the roads were cut off, so we
passed areas where many hotels were situated. Bodies were everywhere, in
the ditch, in the pond, and on the roadsides. I saw trucks full of
bodies, piled on top of one another like cattle.
“By the time I got home it was almost dark. My father who had suffered a
heart attack was home alone. He had tried to call me the whole day, but
my phone was lost in the water.
“My mother was out looking for me and my brother was going to all the
hospitals checking the bodies. When he came back he was covered in blood
from the corpses.
“I was alive but I was a mess. My head was all swollen and bleeding. My
whole body was wounded, and blood oozed from both my legs. I was taken
to many hospitals to ask for treatment, but was always rejected. With
the sudden influx of patients requiring procedures, we were told there
weren’t enough resources to treat people and we had to cope with it
ourselves. The lacerations, first immersed in dirty water, then exposed
for several hours had become infected and swollen.
“We went to the drug store to buy medicine but there was no medicine
anywhere - all had sent their supplies to the hospitals.
“We came home with nothing. We made do with what we had at home,
improvised remedies and some iodine. But the wounds never healed and
became badly infected. The bruises on my head became worse as blood
“Many days later a doctor came to the house and told us that the wounds
were not able to heal because of the diseases that come with the air
from the rotting bodies around the area, even though it was about 5
kilometers away. The smell itself was unbearable, both from my own
wounds and from outside.
“We were told to close the doors and windows, which we did, for weeks. I
did not want to talk with anyone, I was too afraid to watch TV, and was
afraid to be alone in the dark.
“I slowly recovered after that, but my back still hurts to this day.
Some days I get a stabbing pain. I have been to the doctors many times
but they can only suggest that I drink lots of milk and keep my back
“When I finally recovered enough to walk, my mother took me to the place
where people receive monetary help for injuries and damage. The official
looked at me and accused me of trying to get compensation for falling
off a motorbike.
“We tried again, but still were rejected. An army doctor nearby saw what
was happening and came over and scolded the officers for their ignorance
and for not being able to identify wounds.
“In total we received 3,000 baht. We later found out that in
the first few days of commotion and chaos, many people who were not
affected at all went to ask for compensation and received much more.
Some even received a house and a pick-up truck. Unfortunately, many of
those who were genuinely affected by the disaster, but were too sick and
injured to go out and ask for help were later rejected.
Many villagers are now
participating in the assessment course.
“When I started to feel good enough to go back to
work, I applied for a job in Khao Lak again. Because the roads were
still bad, and by 7 p.m. it was pitch black everywhere, I decided to
sleep at the shop with my colleagues. I had to keep my phone close to me
at all times. There were at least two incidents when I had a phone call
in the middle of the night about another tsunami. We had to just get out
and run up the hill - sometimes bare-footed. That made me paranoid and
afraid of the dark to this day. When I could not cope with the fear
anymore, I moved to work in Phuket, but not for long as I missed my
family, so I came back to Khao Lak again.
tree tops have been cut to show how high the tsunami was.
“I think I’m ok now. I don’t have bad dreams like many people do. I can
go down to the beach and play again, but I still prefer to stay in the
shallow water. Flashbacks still haunt me.
“I still panic when I hear strong waves, especially in the evening. They
have installed the warning system, but we don’t know how it works or if
it has even been tested.
“I wish the authorities would tell us that they would perform a drill
and tell us what it will be like, so we know when the time comes what to
do. At present, nobody knows what kind of sound to expect and what to
do. There are many rumors on how it works, but nobody really knows. Not
so long ago, the workers around the hotels under construction panicked
and ran up to the hill. That got other people running as well.
“I think we can never have peace of mind until we are assured and given
proper information on how these things work, and that they really work
when we need them.
“Until then, I hope people will warn me early enough when something
happens, as I’m working in this enclosed office, and I’m really afraid
to drown or to be hit against the walls again.”
As Nam Fon spoke these words, her eyes became teary. I stood up and
hugged her, and gently put my hand on her hurting back. I told her I
would pray for her and other victims as I pray for my children everyday:
To be safe, healthy, able to face difficult situations with wisdom, and
have peace of mind.
Driving back to Phuket airport the following day, I wondered how many
people still think that these survivors are just villagers who are not
that interested in receiving proper information and education. Critical
information, which could make the difference between life, or death.
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