Following on their first generous donation of food and amenities worth 150,000 baht to the residents of Koh Lan two weeks ago, Gerrit and Anselma, owners of the Thai Garden Resort met with Mayor Sonthaya Khunplome at City Hall on May 29, to present him with another shipment of consumer products for distribution to the residents of Koh Larn who are going through a very tough economic period due to the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The care package included 1000 (5 kg) bags of rice, 1000 packs of eggs (10 eggs per pack), 1000 bottles of vegetable oil, and instant noodles for a total of 164,000 baht.
Gerrit and Anselma spoke to the mayor expressing their concerns for the plight of the people in Pattaya and most especially the residents of Koh Larn who have been effectively marooned on their island. “When we heard through our good friend Ronakit Ekasingh that the island residents needed help urgently, we did not hesitate in reaching out. Koh Larn is my favourite island and I love the place very much.”
Gerrit commended the mayor for doing a most effective job in controlling the spread of the coronavirus in Pattaya. “I am a German who has been coming to Pattaya for the past 30 years and with my investment in Thai Garden Resort am living here permanently for the past 15 years.
“This is our home,” he said. “I am in contact with my family and friends all over the world and they all have very positive words to say about Thailand, especially how the Thai authorities have imposed strict yet not too harsh measures on the populace to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in this country.
“I am very impressed that even those who are infected are treated with kindness and medical workers are doing everything in their power to cure them. Even Thais who come back from overseas and are placed in quarantine are treated with love and care.”
Gerrit said something that caught the attention of the Pattaya City officials, “I hear from our friends in Germany that makes us very happy, is that tourists from Europe are desperate to come to Thailand. Many have been trying to book their flights to come here at the end of the year. Believe it or not, they have to fight to get a seat, because all the flights to Thailand are fully booked.”
Gerrit reassured the mayor and all present that, “my wife and I have promised that we will help the people of Pattaya and Koh Larn as much as we possibly can during these difficult times.”
Mayor Sonthaya said that he was quite touched by the Niehaus’ kindness to his hotel staff. “Not only did you not let them go, you pledged to support them by giving them a monthly allowance of 10,000 baht a month until such time as the situation returns to normal and the hotel will be in full operation again.
“And now you come to the rescue of the Koh Larn residents. Both of you have very good hearts, I and the people of Pattaya thank you very much.”
In attendance at the meeting were Deputy Mayors Ronakit Ekasingh and Banlue Kullavanijaya, Koh Larn Community President Boonlerd Boonying, along with Peter Malhotra, MD of Pattaya Mail and Elfi Seitz, Executive Editor of Pattaya Blatt, with Maythysa and Poo Ekasingh.
Before departing, Gerrit assured the mayor that they would make another donation of rice and supplies to the residents of Koh Larn very soon.
On Sunday May 31, Gerrit and Anselma travelled to Koh Larn to personally distribute the food supplies to the residents of Koh Larn. On hand to welcome them were Koh Larn Community President Booncherd Boonying and about 1000 residents who greeted them with loud applause.
The benevolent couple were visibly moved. Anselma said, “It was a most emotional day for us. We had to hold back our tears because what we saw broke our hearts. We couldn’t have imagined the hardships of the underprivileged on the island had we not seen it with our own eyes.”
Khun Booncherd did a great job organising the people to receive their packages in an orderly manner as Gerrit and Anselm personally handed out rice and food to the needy.
Before departing for their return journey to the mainland, Anselma said with tears in eyes, “People are really in need, they need help urgently. We are going to send another 300 bags of rice. Although 1000 bags of rice were distributed today, more people showed up but sadly we didn’t have any more with us. As soon as we get back home, we will send 44,000 baht to buy more supplies and an extra shipment of rice and food for the elderly people who were not able of leaving their homes to receive their relief packages.”