Rotarians build canteen for rural school in Sra Kaew province

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“First of many more humanitarian projects” promises club president

Wat Mai Phothong is a very small school in the rural village of Tambon Khok Peekhong in Sakaew province attended by 55 children ranging from 3 years of age up until grade 6. Four teachers are assigned to attend to the children.

Students gather for a photograph during one of the Rotarians’ earlier visits.
Students gather for a photograph during one of the Rotarians’ earlier visits.

Like many rural schools in Thailand, the budget to cover the needs of the children and the operations of the school is next to nothing. Therefore there are no funds for either improving the school’s facilities or to buy educational materials for the students.

Rotarians PP Max Rommel, President Elect Nachlada Nammontree, Naiyana Stark, Lorena Paso, Pres. Dzenana Popin and Sumonrat Kamolchote are flanked by the grateful school teachers
Rotarians PP Max Rommel, President Elect Nachlada Nammontree, Naiyana Stark, Lorena Paso, Pres. Dzenana Popin and Sumonrat Kamolchote are flanked by the grateful school teachers

The parents are locals of low income and are not able to support the needs of their children’s school.

Late last year, word reached Vutikorn Kamolchote, past president of the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya, of the dire situation of the school and its students. Vutikorn proposed to the club that they set up a committee to look into the possibility of reaching out to help. Rotarians immediately formulated a fundraising plan to set the wheels in motion.

They determined that the urgent needs of the school included desks, chairs, computers, text books, pencils, pens, erasers, rulers, crayons and colour pencils.

Other needs included uniforms, sports apparel, satchels, shoes and socks. In effect the children needed practically everything that a student needs to attend school. Rotarians also discovered that the school had a run-down library with hardly any books.

Children present roses to President Dzenana Popin, PP Max Rommel, PE Nachlada Nommontree and Naiyana Stark on their arrival.
Children present roses to President Dzenana Popin, PP Max Rommel, PE Nachlada Nommontree and Naiyana Stark on their arrival.

On their inspection trip to the school, they were saddened to see the utter state of disrepair of the school structures. Some of the buildings seemed unfit to house the children for fear of causing harm.

Having determined the needs, a decision was made to raise funds for the project. The Pattaya Colour Run was organized in 2015 and early 2016. These events which proved to be a resounding success were supported by Pattaya City Hall and many businesses and organisations in Pattaya and the Eastern Seaboard.

A sign at the entrance proudly states that the new canteen was built with funds donated by the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya.
A sign at the entrance proudly states that the new canteen was built with funds donated by the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya.

The costs for the construction of the school canteen were estimated at 209,056 baht. With additional financial support of a group of Freemasons from Lodge Ratanakosin No. 1833 S.C. and other lodges, enough funds were raised to commence the first phase of the school rehabilitation project.

On 23 July 2016 President Dzenana Popin together with a group of Rotarians travelled to Sra Kaew to hand over the brand new canteen to the school. Members of the group included Past President Max Rommel, President Elect Nachlada Nammontree, Lorena Paso, Naiyana Stark, Past President Vutikorn Kamolchote and his wife Sumonrat.

The state of old ramshackle canteen before it was decided to build a new one.
The state of old ramshackle canteen before it was decided to build a new one.

They were received by joyful children, their parents, teachers and scores of villagers who had come to welcome the benefactors and to thank them for their generosity.

President Dzenana, humbled by the whole experience said, “I am so thrilled and moved on seeing so many happy children. It is amazing that we take so many things for granted, like children getting an education, having an abundance of books to read and clean uniforms to wear. Even to study in a well-appointed classroom. But here I see that so much is still needed. I am determined to ask my Rotary club to raise more funds to help this school and as many underprivileged children in this country as we possibly can.”

“This is our mission because Rotary Serves Humanity.”

Children cheer happily at the presentation of their new canteen.
Children cheer happily at the presentation of their new canteen.