Tsunami orphans visit Australia
At the end of November and beginning of December four girls and three boys from the Duang Prateep Foundation’s Baan Tharn Namchai orphanage had a memorable trip to the Australian cities of Sydney and Brisbane. The children were accompanied by orphanage director Ms. Rotjana Phraesrithong, as well as volunteers Ms. Allyson Parker and Ms. Sirin Thanpetwattana.
The trip was hosted by the National Associated Retail Traders of Australia (NARTA) along with registered charity Hands Across the Water. A five-hour delayed arrival in Sydney was brightened by the presence at the airport of DPF founder Ms. Prateep Ungsongtham Hata, who had travelled separately to Australia, and local benefactor Kay Sinclair.
After an evening meal at a Japanese restaurant, the programme began in earnest the following day with a visit to South Sydney Rabbitohs Rugby League club. The group met some of the players and saw the club’s facilities. The Rabbitohs, one of Australia’s top teams, are well known for their community service activities with Aborigine residents in their catchment area. The programme continued with a visit to an Aborigine school in the area and an Aboriginal cultural centre where Aborigine-Thai fusion food was enjoyed. The cultural exchange continued with Thai dancing and didgeridoo music.
The following day the group were up very early for a visit to Panasonic, where the group were shown the latest technological innovations, including 3D television by the company manager and Ms. Kay Spencer, the managing director of NARTA. There was also a visit to the school attended by the children of Hands Across the Water trustee Mr. Scott Stein, where the children danced and put on a Thai boxing performance.
After an evening meal with Hands Across the Water members, the next day provided an opportunity for sightseeing in downtown Sydney. After a tour of the city by train, there was a trip to Chinatown for lunch and a visit to the nearby Paddy’s Market, where the group met many Thais. That evening provided one of the highlights of the trip with a dance performance by the children at the NARTA AGM, which was followed by a dinner.
The next day the group saw Sydney from the water with a boat trip round the harbour. The fun continued the following with everyone having fun at the Luna Park amusement park.
The next day the children made their third school visit when they went to the school attended by the children of Peter Baines, the founder and organiser of Hands Across the Water. The children from Thailand gave exhibitions of Thai dancing and boxing. They also studied art with the Australian children. The following day was another sightseeing opportunity, with a visit to the Sydney Aquarium and Sydney Tower. The next day Prateep left the group to travel to Japan and then Europe, see story above, while the rest of the party travelled on to Brisbane. In Brisbane there were visits to a water amusement park and the Australia Zoo associated with the late Steve Irwin (better known as the “Crocodile Hunter”) and his family. There was then a trip on to the Gold Coast, where the children gave their final dance and boxing performances at the Christmas party of the Media People company, who sponsor the orphanage through Hands Across the Water. Then it was time for the trip home with a flight from Brisbane to Phuket.
At each of the receptions and visits to schools, the children enchanted with displays of Thai dancing and boxing, Rotjana and Prateep spoke about the work at the orphanage and the Duang Prateep Foundation and a short film was shown.
The group reported that they had a great experience in Australia. They were very impressed by the schools and cities they visited. They were also impressed with approaches to environmental protection.
For both the group from the Baan Tharn Namchai and the hosts from Australia, it Thais and Australians out on the town together was an exciting opportunity to strengthenrelationships. For many Australian sponsors the trip provided their first opportunity to meet the children they have been supporting so generously.
Tsunami orphans march in honour of King
On December 5, the birthday of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 74 children and 5 staff
joined a civic parade in honour of His Majesty. The parade, in the town of Takua Pa, included local officials and was attended by representatives of many local community organisations (photo below).
Another highlight in the month was a two-day trip to the Dream World amusement park near Bangkok.
The children had a great day enjoying the rides at the park. The following day, on the way home, the group took a break in their journey to visit the family home of orphanage director Ms. Rotjana Phraesrithing, in Phetchaburi Province.
The outing was sponsored by a group of benefactors from Singapore,led by Mr. Charles Loh, who had visited the orphanage earlier in the month.
On Christmas Eve 25 of the children went to sing Christmas Carols at the Sarojin Hotel at Khao Lak (see photo on next page).
The following day there was a party at the orphanage for 253 children. 74 of the children live at Baan Tharn Namchai, 150 of the children live with family members at the village of Phru Teaw, where the orphanage is located, and 29 of the children came from Baan ITV, a nearby village whether the Duang Prateep Foundation has an activity centre for the young.
At the party there were dancing and singing performances by the children. There was plenty of food and games and all the children took home a gift. The party was primarily sponsored by Australian charity Hands Across the Water with additional support from Phuket residents Lothar and Nongyao Schudt.
The party was also attended by DPF benefactors Dr. Siridev Abeyewardene and Ms. Jariya
Chaipakdee. Also visiting the orphanage during December were visitors from Australia including Sandy Angus and Alan, who visited before going to the New Life Project (see story above), and Lionel Lee.