Rotarians, both local and international, have joined together to bring health education and vocational training services to those living in remote hill villages along the border between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces in northern Thailand.
The project, involving members from host partner Rotary Club of Chiang Mai Thin Thai Ngarm of District 3360, and the international partner Rotary Club Marshall Rotary of District 6080, successfully raised a matching grant of 333,000 Thai Baht.
The area of Huay Chompoo was chosen both for its remoteness, and that the village lies outside the spotlight of other voluntary organizations. Here, in the fruit orchards that cover the hills along the Mae Kok River, villagers cultivate crops of oranges, longans and lychees to support their families.
Getting to the project village is not an easy task. Rotarians leave from Chiang Mai about 6. 30 am and drive along very steep roads for nearly 4 hours. And these visits can only be made during the dry season from November to June. During the rainy season the roads are impassable for normal passenger cars due to heavy, thick mud and deep ruts.
The project saw many villagers benefit from the medical and dental services brought to them by teams manning mobile clinics, including one from Chiang Mai University Hospital Community. Health education classes made people more aware of how best to avoid contracting such conditions as hypertension or diabetes mellitus, while all were shown the benefits of daily exercise.
For many of the villagers, both young and old, this was their first experience of a dental examination. While clearly unsure of what this involved, and showing some trepidation, they succumbed to examinations and the dental teams were soon surrounded by those famous Thai smiles as they went to work on their patients.
While this was going on, the men learned how to carry out running repairs around their village, such as using metalwork skills to repair doors and windows. During the project, renovations were carried out to the village school, where classrooms, the library, a computer room and all toilets were renovated.
The women of the village meanwhile learned the skills of basic needlework, and soon produced cotton book bags for every student at the school.
Another part of the vocational training involved sending two men from the village on the four-hour trip south to Chiang Mai city where they underwent motorcycle repair lessons with a view to setting up a repair shop back in their village.
Rotarians from all walks of life, from doctors, dentists and nurses, to engineers, teachers, and skilled seamstresses—all pitched in to bring health education and vocational training to the villagers in the remote isolated area in northern Thailand.
As all of this was underway, other Rotarians were distributing clothes and blankets to the villagers, while others provided meals for all, and yet others handed out gifts to the village children. One of the mobile medical and dental clinics visited a neighboring village where the more than 800 residents face health problems created by using a water supply with unusually high fluoride content.
At the end of the project, the villagers were more health conscious and aware of community needs within and around their village. They learned a number of new skills that can now be put to use to the overall benefit of their community.
Forty local Rotarians took part in the project, and at least one international member, from Brisbane-Australia, is already planning to return to take part in the next project.
The entire project could not have been so successfully carried out without the help and support of all Rotarians from the many clubs in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.Professional businesswomen living in Chiang Mai are very welcome to learn more about Rotary Chiang Mai Thin Thai Ngarm. Join our weekly lunch Thursday meeting at 11.30 am at the Chiangmai Grandview Hotel on the Superhighway.
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