Catholic group brings donations to Lopburi AIDS charity
Parishioners from Bangkok
bring a Roman Catholic mass and gifts to AIDS-stricken orphans at Lopburi’s
Baan Gerda community.
Rev. Joerg Dunsbach
Parishioners from Bangkok braved flooded roads and a 230-kilometer drive to
bring a Roman Catholic mass and gifts to AIDS-stricken orphans at Lopburi’s
Baan Gerda community.
Director Karl Morsbach welcomed the group of 20 Sept. 17 and took them into
the community of eight homes where foster parents care for the 85
HIV-infected children whose AIDS-stricken parents either died or abandoned
“It was terrifying to see that overstretched parents were unable to take
care of their HIV-infected children and therefore simply marooned them,”
A project of Bangkok-based non-profit Children’s Rights Foundation, Baan
Gerda is a charity-funded community where doctors administer first- and
second-line medicines costing 750-6,000 baht a month. Morsbach said the
group accepts both cash and material donations.
Since first taking over the care of temple-hospice patients in 2001, Baan
Gerda’s mortality has decreased significantly with only 11 children dying,
the most recent of which was in 2008. Many kids are now teenagers and need a
different kind of care, support and accommodation, he said.
During the visit, the children took obvious delight in the gifts the parish
members gave them, including cookies and Gummy Bears. Among the donators was
Isolde Felskau, third secretary for economic and commercial affairs at the
German Embassy, who pledged to lobby for more financial support of the
After a Catholic mass, the group was given a tour where daily life was
outlined for members. Children live together in small groups and a medical
office offers in-patient treatment.
The grounds themselves are much life a park, surrounded by jungle and lakes
and offering a pleasant environment.
“It really hurt that a major part of the children passed away in our early
days because their AIDS was already far advanced when they came to us,”
Morsbach said. “However, there has been a lot of progress with the
development of new and more efficient medicines since then.”
Although there is a shadow hanging over these children, its power cannot
unfold completely. The playful children and the creative teenagers appear
unencumbered. They performed traditional songs for guests and put on a
mixture of traditional Thai dance and modern pop music.
Upon leaving, all the parishioners were contemplative and very moved by the
visit. While each had donated to the charity, they also went home having
received as well.
Rev. Joerg Dunsbach is the new pastor at Baan Gerda.
Ninety-nine percent is not good enough
“Ninety-nine percent is not good enough.” This was the
message given by speaker Kim Johansen to the Pattaya City Expats Club at its
Sunday, September 25 meeting at the Amari’s Tavern by the Sea Restaurant. Master
of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg introduced Kim who was the builder, operator,
and now former owner of the Pattaya Bay Resort Hotel.
Johansen relates his miraculously successful experience designing, constructing,
managing and selling his Pattaya Bay Resort Hotel.
Kim has had a long and distinguished career in the field of emergency medical
services. He has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and a Dr. of Public
Health Degree. He served as Chief of the San Francisco Ambulance Service for 18
years, most notably during the 1989 earthquake. During his career he has been
responsible for the emergency medical care of five U.S. Presidents, a health
care advisor to the Chinese government, coordinator for the emergency medical
services for Pope John Paul’s visit to the Philippines in 1995, and in 2001 he
began serving as the Director of Health & Safety for the 20th World Scout
Jamboree held in Sattahip, Thailand - a three year project. He has been in
Thailand ever since.
Kim mentioned that at the time of his previous talk to the Club about the hotel,
he had just completed construction and started operations. He has recently sold
it to a hotel group based in Bangkok. Using a PowerPoint presentation, Kim
launched into one of the most informative and interesting presentations the Club
has had. He pointed out that when he undertook to build a hotel, he had no hotel
business experience other than having been a guest in numerous hotels; but being
a guest, he knew what he liked and didn’t like; e.g., adequate electrical
outlets, lighting, equipment that works, and comfort. Kim said that the
underlying guiding principle for both construction and operation was that 99%
was not good enough - it had to be 100% right.
the managing director of the DMC Happy Learning School, explains her unique
approach to teaching foreign languages.
The first part of his presentation dealt with the initial planning and
construction, including how to find the right contractor, terms to put into the
contract, and oversight of the construction work. He said he kept the building
at 8 floors because anything more than that would need an environmental review
and approval from Bangkok; which would be more time consuming. He explained that
respecting Thai culture and looking after the workers welfare helped to keep a
satisfied work force. As a result, the construction projected to be completed in
12 months was finished in 10 and a half.
He then explained how he set about hiring and training staff to provide the type
of service he expected. He also said that a key to getting this service was to
treat staff well and provide them with a good salary, benefits, and rewards for
good performance. He said they learned quickly about his philosophy that 99% was
not good enough. That philosophy, he attributes to the success of the hotel
noting that it had an average occupancy of 85% for four and a half years with
65% of their guests being repeat customers. For operations, the hotel’s motto
was “traditional Thai service with modern conveniences.”
Jan Chris Von Koss (left) and
Richard Silverberg listen to Richard Smith describe the Club’s new, additional,
group health insurance policy that will provide coverage for some older members.
Kim said that from the start, he wanted everything done
legally. He ensured that taxes were paid, all computer software was licensed,
immigration reports were made as required, no underage guests were permitted,
and friendly relations were kept with the police and other officials. This, he
said, saved him a lot of grief when a disgruntled former employee tried to cause
problems by making complaints to labor authorities, police, and other officials
alleging violations. He concluded by saying that the hotel was always an
investment and that when the market was right, he sought a buyer. He explained
the buyer’s due diligence and how he had the sales contract include a
requirement to keep on the present staff.
After Kim answered many questions from the audience, Richard Silverberg updated
everyone on upcoming events and called on Roy Albiston to conduct the always
informative and sometime humorous Open Forum where questions are asked and
answered about expat living in Thailand, recommendations for restaurants and
movies are made, an and perhaps a joke or two are told.
dusitD2 baraquda Pattaya organizes a 5-star trip for kids from Camillian Home, Bangkok
Staff and guests are having a
great time at dusitD2.
Are you affected by, or living with someone who has
HIV/AIDS or are handicapped? Have you ever helped provide services to
children or families living with HIV/AIDS or handicapped?
So many questions, but here at dusitD2 baraquda Pattaya we focus on one only
… what are we going to do about it? And as a dusitD2 belief “Action counts
more than words.”
The management & staff of dusitD2 baraquda Pattaya, led by Michael Ganster
(general manager) welcomed 12 kids from the Camillian Home - Relief Center
for children living with disabilities and HIV/AIDS to experience a 5-star
hotel experience on September 27.
Apart from a luxury night stay in the hotel’s spectacular rooms, kids were
delightfully treated with a fun hotel tour, a cake decoration activity and
delicious dinner at the s.e.a. restaurant. All kids were excited and
impressed with activities dusitD2 staff provided. As Jack, one of the
HIV/AIDS teenagers said, “This is our first hotel experience … my friends
and I truly enjoy everything the hotel put together for us.”
Joy mixed with sadness, tears mixed with laughter, the innocent and
liveliness of those wonderful kids almost caused tears to the entire dusitD2
staff. Now the dusitD2 staff have a much better understanding of this virus
and will continue to support this center thought out the year and years to
come as their social care project.
“What dusitD2 baraquda Pattaya contributed to the kids today was priceless,
it’s not just the food, accommodation, activities or the gifts, it’s the
sincerity that dusitD2 staff brought and expressed to us and we really
appreciated,” said father Giovanni
Camillian Home is a registered non-profit children’s charity operating on
behalf of the St. Camillus Foundation of Thailand in the area of Lat
The Home was initiated by Father Giovanni Contarin, an Italian Priest who
has done extensive work for the poor in Thailand over the past 25 years. It
targets orphaned children who are not only living with HIV/AIDS but who are
also disabled - physically, mentally, or both. Managed by the St. Camillus
Foundation of Thailand, children are brought up and taught values based on
their own beliefs and cultural backgrounds. Everyone is free to express and
follow their faith, whatever it may be.
Mermaids Dive Center trash assassins set a new record
Clean up day has 351 participants
Some happy winners in the lucky
draw back at the Captain’s Table.
Mermaids Dive Center, a PADI 5 star Career Development Center based in Jomtien,
Pattaya, held its annual International Clean up day on September 17 on the south
beach and reef of Koh Sak Island. Koh Sak is located 40 minutes from Pattaya
Beach and a local attraction for day visitors.
Always a popular day on any diver’s calendar, the Mermaids Dive Center
International Cleanup day began in 2008 with 176 participants. Now in its 4th
year running, the number of participants has increased to a record breaking 351
people ranging from non swimmers and snorkelers to divers at all levels.
Fire twirlers are a big hit at the
Taking part in the clean up were local residents from Pattaya
and Bangkok, as well as students, teachers and parents from NIST and RIS
International schools in Bangkok, Regents School in Pattaya and Garden School in
Rayong. Mermaid’s staff and students handled the day’s logistics and joined in
with diving and cleaning.
The day started at 6.30 a.m. at the main operations center located in Jomtien.
All participants registered and received a special commemorative T shirt to mark
the day’s occasion. Breakfast was provided at Papa David’s restaurant and the
transfer to the 9 awaiting boats at Bali Hai Pier began.
This year’s event drew 351
Once on board each boat, the Mermaids boat master gave
participants a detailed overview of the facilities on board and the schedule for
the day. Led by the Mermaids safety speedboat, all 9 boats soon set off for Koh
Sak. There was a lot of excitement and cheering on board each boat.
On arrival at Koh Sak, everyone listened to their dive and snorkel briefs from
the Mermaids team leaders on board. For the next hour, divers and snorkelers
brought trash back to their boats to be counted and logged for statistics.
Amongst the trash collected were old shoes and a lot of broken glass.
Catching some shuteye after a long
day assassinating trash from the sea.
Lunch was served and everyone settled down to relax and talk
about their findings. Those that had been on the clean up in previous years
remarked that the trash seemed to be a little less this year. Those that were
attending for the first year were dismayed at the amount of rubbish coming out
of the water. For those with a little more energy, swimming and stand up paddle
boarding with Amara Watersports kept everyone entertained.
After lunch, everyone swam or took the quicker trip in the safety speedboat over
to the beach to start the cleanup. After cleaning the beach to its former
pristine condition, everyone gathered together for the group photo. The safety
speed boat then took the non swimmers back to their boats and the divers
returned to kit up for their second dive of the day. Most snorkelers decided to
stay on the beach and hunt for more trash.
Snorkelers set off for the
After their briefings the divers returned to the water to see
what else they could collect. The safety speedboat with a lot of helpers
returned back to the beach to collect all the trash and transferred this onto
the 9 boats. Once everyone was back on board and a final check was done, the 9
boats with their trash collection started their return journey back to Bali Hai
This year the trash was estimated 3.5 tons. Amongst the items collected were old
shoes, car parts, rope, fishing line, food packaging, polystyrene, cans, plastic
bottles, glass and clothing. The biggest find of the day was a TV. This was
slightly more than the 3 tons collected in 2010.
In you go. Don’t forget who your
Upon arrival back at Bali Hai, everyone made their way to the
evening event at the Captains Corner Restaurant in the Residence Gardens Hotel.
After a fabulous buffet dinner everyone settled down to hear the prize draw for
the Mermaids Dive Warrior Junior Master Scuba Diver Internship. The Mermaids
Dive Warrior is open for all 10 to 15 year old divers to join us to learn more
about the underwater world. Congratulations to Hina Yamada, from NIST
International School in Bangkok who won the prize valued at 120,000 baht.
The main raffle prizes were drawn with prizes ranging from diving equipment to
luxury hotel stays in Samui. These prizes were generously donated by Mermaids
Dive Center, Shasa Resort, Pinnacle Hotels, Dive Supply, Aquamaster, Easy
Watersports, Go Pro Cameras, Blue Lagoon Kiteboard Center, Siac Consulting, Arc
Publishing, Woodlands Resort, The Seafood Bar, The Oyster Bar, EasyKart,
Kipling, Almeta, Nadimos, P2, Citidines Sukhumvit 23, Amara Watersports, One
Stop Dive, Pullman Aisawan Hotel, Aree Alley, Hard Rock Hotel, Holiday Inn,
Bugslock, CT Life Spa, Bangkok Pattaya Hospital, Bangkok Florist, Grand Hyatt
Erawan Hotel, Underwater World Pattaya, Nong Nooch Gardens, Captains Corner
Restaurant, Jomtien Boathouse Hotel, Linason Travel, Thai Rent a Car, Grappa
Restaurant, Happy Home Cooking School and Siam Diving Enterprises.
Main sponsors for the day were Bugslock and Thai Rent a Car. Singha Corporation,
Wang Thong Group, Coca Cola and Italasia provided beverages on the day and
Collecting trash on the shoreline
is just as big a task as collecting from underwater.
After prize giving was completed, the evening’s entertainment
began with a fire show and everyone enjoyed some great music and celebrated
their achievements from the day. Bookings for next year’s cleanup were already
Sheena Walls, general manager of Mermaids Dive Center said, “It was another
great year, with old and new friends joining us. Thank you to all the staff and
students of Mermaids and our participants, it just wouldn’t be possible without
Peter Waagensen, owner and director of Mermaids Dive Center said, “It is good to
see that our event that we have done 6 years now, has grown and gotten the
support that we have, from sponsors as well as so many members of the community
to participate, especially the younger generations, as they understand the
importance of taking care of our environment.
“The Mermaids team has done an outstanding job again this year, with all credit
to all of Mermaids as well as the many participants who joined the event.”
Looking pretty even while
collecting garbage; remarkable.
Green Leaf pushes Thai hotels to ban smoking by guests, staff
Jeerapol Sinthunawa, an
environment and natural resources assistant professor at Mahidol University, is
encouraging hotels to ban smoking by guests and staff.
Academics, bureaucrats, business executives and environmental advocates are
encouraging all of Thailand’s hotels to become no-smoking zones, arguing that
the country’s 2008 public-smoking ban has been surprisingly positive for
At a Sept. 29 meeting sponsored by the Green Leaf Foundation at the Dusit Thani
Hotel, Jeerapol Sinthunawa, an environment and natural resources assistant
professor at Mahidol University, said hotels that have become “smoke free” have
seen their bookings increase.
Hotels owners feared negative fallout from the 2008 law, which theoretically
bans smoking in bars, restaurants and other public places, but is generally
“But it turns out that hotels received positive responses from tourists. It is
expected that Thai and international tourists would rather choose
health-conscious hotels, reserve smoke-free rooms for their stay, dine in
smoke-free restaurants and visit hotel-destinations that are smoke-free too,” he
Shashawan Suphotyanotn, vice president of Green Leaf in Thailand, which works
with hotels to adopt recycling, energy conservation, alternative fuels and
health-conscious business practices, said more needs to be done to make hotels
truly smoke-free and healthy.
He said resorts should promote health and services including the participation
of employees and people staying in the hotels. Green Leaf has identified nine
areas to focus on, including health massage and spa; gym, swimming pool and
field-activities; cleaning employees; kitchen and restaurants; health conscious
and environment friendly engineering; health promoting meetings and healthy