PHUKET: Children are our future as the song tells us and to prepare them for the waiting world of adulthood we endeavor to provide a wealth of learning experiences that are an important tool for their development.
National Children’s Day in Thailand was celebrated on January 14 and many places marked this special occasion with events filled with fun activities. The purpose of these activities is not only to mark the occasion, but also to show children how important they are.
Life Home Project Foundation (LHPF) is the Phuket based organization that offers help to HIV/AIDS infected women and their children. The foundation was established in May 2001 and since then they have provided shelter and career training as well as education scholarships for the children.
On January 15, the LHPF celebrated a combination of Children’s Day, New Year and Christmas all rolled into one magic afternoon.
Daoroong “Joojee” Rodsomnam, project manager for LHPF is one of the driving forces behind the success of the organization.
“It is important for our kids to experience outside activities so they can practice their social skills and explore the world away from their usual environment,” said Daoroong.
“We don’t consider the day just as Children’s Day, it is also our annual festival that we have held for three years already. We allow all the children who are under our care, children who received scholarships from us, and the children who live around this area, to gather and have a good time,” she said.
Saowaluck “Sao” Rittideth is one child who benefits from the foundation’s work and explained to the Gazette how it is helping to improve her life.
“I’m in Phutthamongkolnimitr School in Matthayom 2 (Grade 8). I have been on the scholarship program from LHPF for four years now,” said Saowaluck.
“My family is really poor and they can’t afford to send me to school. If I didn’t get the scholarship from LHPF, I wouldn’t get an education like this. I am so grateful for the opportunity,” she added.
“I intend to continue to study at higher level. I want to get at least a college degree or if I am lucky enough, I wish I could make it to a bachelor degree. Then I will come back to offer my help to this foundation the best I can,” she added.
Anon “Ahao” Seaesoon told the Gazette he has been under the care of LHPF for nine years.
“I first came to this foundation when I was three years old. I don’t remember much about my family, all I know is that I came from Chiang Mai. I have grown up here and I consider this place my home and the people are my family,” said Anon.
“I would like to continue to study until I graduate with a bachelor’s degree and be able to take care of myself. I will continue to support this foundation, so that my sisters and brothers can have the same opportunity that I’ve had. I want to be a police officer in the future,” he said.
The educational achievements of the children that have been supported by LHPF are a direct measure of its overall success.
“One of our kids is currently earning his degree in engineering from one university in Bangkok,” said Mr Noppadon Puangpan, a social worker at LHPF.
“It really doesn’t matter if the kids come back to help us here. What is important is that they are able to rely on themselves. I am proud that our foundation makes a difference in their lives,” he added.
Besides the children who enjoyed the event, many adults came to celebrate the annual festival.
Mr Hans Frutiger, General Manager of the Mövenpick Hotel and Resort Phuket in Karon beach has joined in the celebrations every year.
“We always enjoy lending our support to LHPF. Last year we held a charity gala dinner at our resort to help raise funds for the foundation and I am delighted to support their efforts for any occasion,” said Mr Frutiger.
“Our hotel is the only hotel in Phuket that has the Green Globe Award and part of that achievement stems from the community work we are involved in such as the LHPF,” he added.
Mrs Ingrid Gudmundsson lost her daughter in the 2004 tsunami and has been supporting underprivileged kids ever since, under her own foundation called “Inda Hjälpen”.
“My daughter, Linda, was a jewelry designer and after she died I took over her factory and made a charity,” said Mrs Gudmundsson.
“I took the money and donated it to help rebuild a school in Khao Lak. Now I design jewelry and the money I make, I donate to the students in Khao Lak and to the children here at LHPF,” she said.
“I have sponsored five LHPF children for their scholarship. Today, I am here to celebrate with them. I brought them a lot of presents as well,” she added.
Also at the event was Hélène Fallon-Wood, the Honorary Consul of Ireland in Phuket and director of LHPF.
“I have supported LHPF since 2001. Jose Luis Gay set this foundation up and I came to help six months afterwards,” said Hélène.
“There have been great improvements since we began in 2001. The greatest part of our achievement is the fact that some of the children we have supported are already relying on themselves now. We are very happy to be part of their future and see them grow up with strength and intelligence,” she added.
Hélène indicated that she will do the best she can to keep this foundation running and revealed that the annual fund raising event this year at the Mövenpick Hotel and Resort in March.will have a different look.
“I would like to thank everyone who is supporting us and I hope they will continue to support us in the future. We will make sure that all the children under our care get the full benefit from the donations and they have the best future waiting for them,” she said.
— Chaiyot Yongcharoenchai
500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies
Roughly 36% of Thailand’s corporate equity is held by just 500 people, highlighting wealth inequality in the Kingdom, according to a study released by the Bank of Thailand’s research institute.
Each of these 500 amass some 3.1 billion baht (102 million USD) per year in company profits, according to the report from the Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research. In contrast, average yearly household income in Thailand is around 10,000 USD.
A report out this week from the Economic and Business Research Centre for Reform at Thailand’s Rangsit University also pointed to divisive and polarised politics being another root cause of the economic divide.
Thailand’s private sector is dominated by tycoons running sprawling conglomerates. According to the World Bank, the gap between the mega-wealthy and the rest of the Thai population of 69 million is among the many economic challenges for Thailand. According to Bloomberg, the perception of a divide, exacerbated by an economic slowdown, is a major political fault line.
“Magnates arise in Thailand from institutional factors that privilege certain businesses,” said the executive director of PIER, author of the study.
The institute said Thailand needs to promote competitiveness to reduce profits from monopoly power and bolster entrepreneurship to create a more equitable distribution of corporate wealth.
The research is based on analysis of 2017 Commerce Ministry data on the 2.1 million shareholders in Thai firms, and was funded by the University of California San Diego.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
Thais go bananas over freak plants in pursuit of lottery numbers
PHOTOS: Daily News
The answers are in the banana leaves.
Thai people LOVE playing the lottery (and gambling generally). In fact they’re BANANAS about the twice-monthly lottery (it was drawn again today). Daily News has reported about two unusual banana trees growing in front of a shop in Klong 4 Pathum Thani, just north of Bangkok. The trees did not have blossom and on one plant two bananas were pointing skywards. On another there was a whole bunch pointing up into the sky.
There was a steady stream of the faithful lighting incense, praying and rubbing powder on the trees to get lottery numbers. One group thought ‘542’ was the magic numbers and a path to riches (we’re not sure how they came to this conclusion). 53 year old Surachai says the trees had been growing for a few months and that he’d never seen anything like it before.
An unnamed agricultural expert suggested that there was probably something wrong with the banana plants. Trees and malformed animals are a favourite source of inspiration to select numbers for the lottery, as are numbers of houses and vehicles involved in events where people experience “miracle” escapes from danger, or even bizarre accidents.
SOURCE: Daily News
The K-pop Olympics: performers battle in the K-pop festival
On the streets, in parks and garages, seven Cuban youngsters spent seven months practising K-pop moves to secure a spot on their dream stage: an appearance in South Korea to imitate their idols. 13 final teams from 80 countries are competing in the 2019 event.
At the grandly titled and government-funded Changwon K-pop World Festival contestants from around the globe perform imitation dances or sing cover versions of the genre’s biggest hits, with thousands of fans cheering them on.
In terms of global heft, South Korea is overshadowed by its much larger neighbours China and Japan, but the event is a way for Seoul to derive soft power from one of the country’s biggest cultural exports. In terms of pop-power, South Korea’s K-Pop is now a recognised world-wide music phenomenon with bands like BTS and Blackpink figuring amongst the other big-hitters on the Billboard charts and outselling their western counterparts with millions of albums and downloads.
Finalists for this year
Cuba’s Communist government is one of North Korea’s few remaining allies: when President Miguel Diaz-Canel, successor to the Castro brothers Fidel and Raul, visited Pyongyang last November he was only the third foreign head of state to do so since leader Kim Jong Un inherited power in 2011.
But rather than geopolitics, Havana performer Karel Rodriguez Diaz – whose mannerisms and sleek hairstyle could easily be mistaken for those of a K-pop star – is more motivated by high-tempo beats and superslick dance moves.
“We never had a place with a mirror or a choreographer who could teach us the steps” but they kept on practising, he said.
His team-mate Elio Gonzalez added: “We are so excited to represent not just Cuba but also the whole of Latin America.”
Some 6,400 teams from more than 80 countries entered the competition, according to organisers, with 13 groups from places as diverse as Kuwait and Madagascar winning through to the final in Changwon, where they appeared on stage waving their national flags.
“This is like watching the Olympics, a K-pop Olympics,” said the event’s host Lia, a member of K-pop group ITZY.
The Korean Wave
K-pop – along with K-drama soap operas – has been one of South Korea’s most successful cultural exports to date. A key part of the “Korean Wave” which has swept Asia and beyond in the last 20 years, the K-pop industry is now estimated to be worth $5 billion, with boyband BTS its latest high-profile exponent, becoming the world’s most successful band in the past 12 months, selling out stadium concerts within minutes, around the world.
The South Korean government has financed a variety of K-pop themed events in what CedarBough Saeji, a visiting professor at Indiana University Bloomington in the US, said was a form of long-term “soft power diplomacy”.
“When you are covering you get to ‘become’ those idols for the three and a half minutes of the song,” she said, adding that performers will go so far as matching their clothing, accessories and hairstyle to their heroes and heroines.
“The cover dancers of today will be diplomats, news reporters, and business leaders in forty years,” she went on.
“And hopefully they’ll still have a soft spot in their heart for Korea. Korea can’t win the world through hard power – armies, economic bullying – but with soft power even a small country like Korea has a chance.”
The music also provides an artistic alternative for overseas fans, especially those in developing countries, Saeji added.
“The West, especially the United States, has been so dominant culturally for so long, and having a different cultural pole to look to provides hope that one’s own country can experience similar success in the future.”
Be who you want
Beneath its glitz and glamour, the K-pop industry is also known for its cutthroat competition, a lack of privacy, online bullying and relentless public pressure to maintain a wholesome image at all times and at any cost.
Sulli, a popular K-pop star and former child actress who had long been the target of abusive online comments was found dead on Monday, with her death sending shockwaves through fans around the world.
“I think a day where (people) would be ashamed of the K-show business will surely come,” a South Korean online user wrote in the wake of the star’s death.
“I think an industry that makes money by (making people) sing, dance, undergo plastic surgeries and go on a diet to please the gaze of others since they are teenagers should really go bankcrupt.”
But for Kenny Pham, a finalist from the US at last week’s contest, K-pop’s diversity – with some tunes having dark themes, while others were “cute” or sensual – is what gives him a sense of liberation.
“I like how expressive you could be,” the 19 year old told AFP last week.
“I feel like it’s a place where you could show the passion you have for music, dance or fashion. No one is bashing you for what your likes are.”
SOURCE: Agence France-Presse
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