Friday, May 11, 2012
Looking Back At Ten Years On Phuket…
A decade has passed since I wrote my first ever project proposal was written and presented. It was a humble start amongst corrugated iron shacks, dirty water puddles and broken glass in Soi Namsea, (Soi Dirty water) in Patong. Teaching English to food vendors made us aware of the need amongst young children living in the slum area, many times cared for by a brother or sister not much older than themselves.
Patong Childcare Center started in 2002 and provided care for 24 children-at-risk. Today the Center operates from Kathu and 65 kids from Patong and Kathu are cared for in a safe and friendly educational environment, all free of charge. Asia Center Foundation has been able to grow and develop with the help of many. Start-up costs as well as continuous support from the World Children’s Fund (WCF) has further helped us to manage a Learning Center for 35 Burmese students in 2008 as well as a long term full care project for 10 children at Baan Sii Som (the Orange House). WCF is until today a valued project partner amongst a handful of individuals that through the years, has proven their dedication to help ACF in the enormous task of creating education opportunities for disadvantaged children.
During 2004 we also met with the Queen of Thailand and two children from the slum area were able to see their Queen face to face. Our first connection with the International Rugby Tens competition was also in 2004 when Patrick Cotter asked us if we would like to sell raffle tickets during the event.
Once again a humble start that has grown into an event that contributes the biggest part of the support required for sponsoring 100 students in Primary and Secondary school year after year. Rugby support carries our Scholarship Program since 2005, when it officially started after the tsunami. Various teams from around the world have supported one or more children on the program during the past 7 years. A lot of effort goes into raising the necessary funds by participating team members and we applaud them for it!
Sponsor teams and sponsored children got to know each other each year during the past events. Complete strangers that invest in their futures through supporting the ACF Scholarship Program touch both children and families. So we consider each rugby player and each team our project partners and want to thank each of you for your involvement in the tournament as well as for your fantastic support over the years.
And finally, during 2009 another dream was realized: starting a Youth Rugby Development Program to introduce Thai children to the game of rugby. Today the Phuket Loma Youth Rugby Club has been registered and players have received great opportunities through the combined efforts of Phuket Rugby, their coaches and volunteers, and ACF’s Youth Development Program. This included a trip to Manchester in 2011 and recently, the first of 3 Bob Dwyer rugby coaching clinics on Phuket, held at Thanyapura Sports and Leisure complex. They might be small in stature, but they have hearts of lions! “They” are the students in primary schools in which ACF work and whom jumped at the challenge to play rugby. Watch out Phuket Loma Seniors!
The rugby community is full of initiative when it comes to a good cause. This was proven once more when members of the Bangkok Bangers got on their bikes in Bangkok and cycled all the way to Phuket for charity in 2010. And that was just the start! They have repeated this enormous adventure for three years in a row, raising close to B800 000.
As we look back at the past ten years, we recognize that there was lots of growth and development for Asia Center Foundation. We also recognize that it didn’t happen by the hands of any one person in particular. It was a combined effort from many different people that helped grow ACF to where we are today. We thank you for seeing the bigger picture with us, and for making your time, money, skills and humor available to become an active part of that bigger picture. And for helping us to change lives and to give hope so poor children can have better futures.
In October 2012, ACF celebrates the past 10 years officially with a Fund Raising Dinner event at one of the Kata Group hotels. Tickets for the event will be available from August onwards. Should you wish to attend please do contact us and if you have something you would like to donate that we will be able to auction off we would love to hear from you.
To the teams: Enjoy the Tens and we look forward for you to meet up with your sponsor child/ren at the photo booth for more “official” pictures this year.
To Patrick, thank you for turning your event into something that benefits others, especially those as vulnerable as children, as well as for your initiative towards and contribution to Youth Rugby Development the past 3 years. We salute you!