Ladyboy Water Volleyball raises a magic million

Friday, 08 November 2013 From Issue Vol. XXI No. 45 By  Tony Sales

2013 Tournament is a rousing success, benefiting 4 Thai charities

The second annual Pattaya Ladyboy Water-Volleyball Competition has come and gone and the organizers’ revised goal of raising 700,000 baht for charity was literally smashed out of the water as the tournament managed to raise one million baht for good causes.  In fact when the final tally comes in from the auction and monies paid that have been pledged, the final figure should be slightly over the million mark.

Last year we were happily surprised to raise 285,854 baht for charity and this year our original goal was to double that amount and raise 500,000 baht.  I originally had my doubts, as did others, that we would be able to hit that mark, but thanks to many generous donors and sponsors, both private and corporate, the ladyboy community of Pattaya, along with help from its sisters in Bangkok and Phuket, has raised 250,000 baht each for Pattaya Rotary Club’s Water4Life program, Pattaya’s HEARTT 2000, Bangkok’s St. Camillus Foundation and Phuket’s The Life Home Project.

Sensations were crowned the 2013 champions.Sensations were crowned the 2013 champions.

At the end of the day none of this money would have been raised without the ladyboys and the bars where they work donating their time and effort, not just in playing but in promoting the event and selling sponsorships and tickets.  Eight bars entered teams this year from around Thailand: Baby Boom, Kings II Bar, La Bamba Bar, Sensations and Stringfellows from here in Pattaya; TJ’s Music Bar from Naklua; Cocktails and Dreams from Phuket; and Temptations/Cockatoo from Bangkok.

Miss Indonesia (left) presents a check for 250,000 baht to Jim Howard Smith of Phuket who accepts it on behalf of The Life Home Project.Miss Indonesia (left) presents a check for 250,000 baht to Jim Howard Smith of Phuket who accepts it on behalf of The Life Home Project.

Sensations won the Oct. 26 tournament with solid performances throughout the day, with TJ’s Music Bar taking second place.  Thanks are due to the bars and their participating staff that quite literally make the event.  Some of them take the tournament quite seriously, practicing for months beforehand, while others are in it for the fun, knowing that it’s all for a good cause.

Sensations take on Stringfellows in one of the early round matches.Sensations take on Stringfellows in one of the early round matches.

But then it’s the customers and friends of these bars that brought in a lot of the money donated this day; there were 85 people who bought 114 total team sponsorships which went for 3,000 baht a piece.  That translates into 342,000 baht.  Three quarters of those people were also on hand for the event.

The teams line up for a group photo at Areca Lodge in Pattaya, Saturday, Oct. 26.The teams line up for a group photo at Areca Lodge in Pattaya, Saturday, Oct. 26.

There were also 202 tickets sold at 1,000 baht a piece and about a 150 of those tickets were actually redeemed at the event; so combined with sponsors in attendance there were well over 200 spectators on hand, not to mention tournament participants, organizers and volunteer support staff.

There were 25 separate donations, including some sizable last-minute contributions that put this year’s total at one million baht when combined with the auction held the night of the tournament at the banquet.

Presentation to Dr Phillipe Suer (right) of Heart 2000.Presentation to Dr Phillipe Suer (right) of Heart 2000.

There are many people and organizations to thank along the way to this magic million, and many numbers to review, but let’s save that for later.  One of the things many of us involved in this event sometimes forget is that this is all about raising money for charity (that and illustrating the positive role ladyboys play in our communities).

Once again proceeds are going to Pattaya Rotary Club’s Water4Life program and the club’s Carl Dyson was on hand the night of the event to receive a 250,000 check.  It’s impossible to underestimate the impact of this important program.  That may seem like an exaggeration to some, but outside of Bangkok and the handful of smaller cities in Thailand, the country is still largely rural and many of these rural communities don’t have access to safe drinking water.

Carl Dyson (center) of Rotary Club Eastern Seaboard accepts the check for 250,000 baht.Carl Dyson (center) of Rotary Club Eastern Seaboard accepts the check for 250,000 baht.

After looking at and trying different ways to address this program, Rotary Club settled on low-maintenance filtration systems that can last for about five years before requiring replacement installed in villages at large.  To date Rotary Club has installed more than 5,000 such systems in villages around Thailand, as well as surrounding countries.

Another 250,000 baht will go directly to another Pattaya charity - HEARTT 2000.  Led by Dr. Philippe Seur, HEARTT 2000 is a group of volunteers that assists those afflicted with HIV-AIDS.  Thanks in large part to the efforts of Dr. Seur, his non-profit organization and their colleagues, people afflicted with HIV-AIDS now have access to free medical care and anti-retroviral drugs and currently some 250,000 Thai people participate in the program.

Father Giovanni (right) of the Camillian Trust is presented a check from Miss Indonesia.Father Giovanni (right) of the Camillian Trust is presented a check from Miss Indonesia.

Dr. Seur also noted the daunting social stigma and discrimination that Thai people afflicted with this disease face, even though they are receiving treatment and are not a threat to the community at large.  It was quite moving to hear him acknowledge the important contribution the ladyboy communities of Pattaya, Bangkok and Phuket were making to this worthy charity — ladyboys themselves often being the subjects of needless discrimination.

It was also particularly heartwarming for the Thai people at the banquet, including the 50 ladyboys that played in the tournament, to hear Dr. Seur deliver his remarks in English and again in fluent Thai.

But Seur wasn’t the only one at the banquet that night that proved that farang can master Thai language.  Father Giovanni Contarin also delivered his remarks at the banquet in both English and Thai.  Father Giovanni founded the non-profit Camillian Home program in Bangkok; it is managed by Camillus Foundation of Thailand and he serves as its director.

The Camillian Home provides children living with disabilities, including many suffering from HIV-AIDS, as normal a family life as possible, as well as creating a barrier-free environment for people with disabilities and their families.  As you can imagine, such a program is expensive and Camillian Home depends almost completely on donations; only 4 percent of its budget comes from the Thai government while the remainder comes from donations — individual, corporate and grants.

In his remarks Father Giovanni also touched on the positive role that ladyboys play in their communities, and how his organization depended on people from all walks of life and backgrounds — Thai and farang, Christian and Buddhist — to keep a program like Camillian Home operating.

The fourth charity to benefit from this year’s ladyboy water volleyball tournament with 250,000 baht is Phuket’s The Life Home Project.  Life Home’s aim is to provide a shelter for mothers who are HIV positive and their children where they can live safely in a supportive community.  Around 40 children and mothers currently reside at the non-profit program’s shelter in Phuket.

But the Life Home does more than provide shelter; it also offers a children’s day care center, work training for women afflicted with HIV, HIV-AIDs prevention outreach and a scholarship program to support children’s education.  The program also does community relations, visiting patients in hospital and at home, participating with other organizations in social work.

While the folks at the Life Home Project couldn’t be on hand, Jim Howard Smith of Cocktails and Dreams in Phuket, one of our participating volleyball teams, accepted the 250,000 baht check on behalf of the charity.

It’s worth remembering that we couldn’t have reached the million baht mark without our corporate sponsor, NB Surveys Thailand Co. Ltd., the Thai branch of NB Surveys Global, which kicked in 150,000 baht.  Based in Scotland, NB Global provides surveying services to the oil and gas industry, onshore and offshore, and has offices in Australia, Brunei, India, Malaysia and United Arab Emirates, in addition to its office in Bangkok.  On behalf of our recipient charities, we say a big thank you to NB Surveys.

We also owe a heartfelt thank you to Pattaya’s Tiffany’s Show who graciously donated tickets to this year’s Miss International Queen 2013 competition held on November 1.  Needless to say the tickets didn’t last long in the charity auction.

Tiffany’s also provided polo shirts for each of the ladyboy water volleyball competitors.  How popular did these prove?  In spite of the fact that our team members were dressed to the nines for the evening banquet, once the shirts were handed out, it wasn’t long before Tiffany’s polo shirts were adorned throughout the crowd around the pool.

And said pool and venue was once again provided by Areca Lodge on Soi Diana.  Last year we struggled to find a hotel but the fine folks at Areca came through for us.  They did so again this year, and we are indebted to them for not only hosting the event but the banquet afterward.

Even though it was bigger in size and scope than last year’s event, the tournament and banquet went off without a hitch, and this was due in large part to the Areca Lodge staff.

We hope to see you all again next year!

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