Phuket is renowned for giving visitors enormous pleasure, not only because of its exquisite tropical setting but also because of the Thai people, who are usually pleasant and laid-back. However, for some of these people life here on Phuket is by no means easy. When you’re here, you are more than likely going to come across or see someone who appears to be in need.
Beyond the largely beach-bound screen of the tourist industry — the sophisticated resorts, villas and restaurants – Thai people are quite simple and in many cases quite poor. The Thai’s often easy-going nature sometimes actually hides the struggle many of them face.
Luckily for Phuket, there are a number of people here, both foreign and Thai, who will bend over backwards to try to help those people who are in need and have therefore set up charities to help those people.
There are a now a number of charities here on the island that endeavor to raise funds, either from special campaigns or fundraising events, for Agencies or Projects they support.
But whatever the charity, and its purpose, – all of them seek donations.
In the following article, we provide you with some information on the main charities here in Phuket. If you would like to help in any way you feel appropriate, please read the information in the following pages and please contact them.
Remember, the wonderful thing is that on a small island it is really possible to make a difference.
Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation
The Phuket Sunshine Village is a residential community constructed for less fortunate children in Phuket, following the Tsunami disaster in 2004. The Foundation, with support of donors from around the globe, was able to buy land in Koh Sirae, an area hit by the disaster.
The Village focuses on family-based, long-term care of children. The children will experience reliable relationships, meaning they can recover from what they have experienced, which has often been traumatic. They grow up in a stable family environment, and are supported individually until they become independent young adults or until the family situation improves drastically.
They assist their children to achieve a better future through developing their social skills, knowledge about Thai society and culture, teaching them about family values and responsibilities. An upbringing in a loving family-like environment with a nutritious diet and good health care are the most important aspects to ensure a better future for these children.
“This made me even more dedicated to setting up the foundation”
Franco Ferri – member of the Board of Directors PSVF
Franco Ferri was born to German and Italian parents. He has resided in Phuket for over 12 years, is a member of the Lions Club Phuket Andaman Sea and also a member on the Board of Directors of PSVF. Phuketindex recently went to chat with him more in-depth about the Foundation.
After the Tsunami in 2004 the Lions Club Phuket Andaman Sea had the idea to establish a childcare scheme and child care center. Because the Lions Clubs are a multinational club and have very good worldwide connections, they managed to raise 1.1 million Euros, and with this money purchased land in Koh Sirae and officially setup the Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation (PSVF). Unfortunately, although the Lions Club had the ability to raise the funds and run the project, they realised they didn’t have the skills to run the child care center itself. Therefore, they called on Dr Supaluck from Child Watch Phuket to see if they would be interested in becoming a partner in the project, to which they agreed, and Dr Supaluck is now President of the Foundation.
The Foundation was fortunate to subsequently secure an agreement with the French Red Cross, who financed and managed the construction of the village buildings. The Village was completed after one year and was officially opened on the 29th June 2007 by the Governor of Phuket.
After the tsunami occurred, there was a lot of actionism on the island. Franco tells us “Everyone wanted to do something, and lots of people were running around raising funds. Although they were successful in raising the funds, unfortunately, many were raising them for their own pockets and this is something I will never forget.”
Another thing that sticks in Franco’s mind about the tsunami is visiting Koh Sirae School, which housed children affected by the tsunami, many of whom are now housed in the PSVF Village. Franco said “We went to visit the children in the school and they looked at you with their big eyes, and even after all they had been through they still managed to smile.This made me even more dedicated to setting up the foundation and helping those kids. Now I have to say this is one of the best things I’ve done in my life.”
The entire Board of directors at PSVF works on a voluntary basis and Franco himself handles all of the Foundations communications. Most of the Directors spend up to 15 hours a week dedicating their time to the foundation.
PSVF would love to be able to have more volunteers working for them and they frequently receive requests from foreigners wishing to volunteer their time. However, due to labour laws they’re unable to take them on. However, there are a growing number of local volunteers who come frequently to visit the children and give their time participating in numerous activities with the children.
Luckily for PSVF they have many potential donors from outside of Thailand. A gentleman from Luxemburg who lost his wife and daughter in the tsunami set up his own foundation purely to help PSVF. From this foundation PSVF receives around 500,000 Baht a year. There are also a number of powerful Australians who help; the permanent English teacher at PSVF is funded by Phuket based and Australian owned Shades Co Ltd. One of the owners raises the funds every year to pay for the teacher. There are also a number of Lions Clubs, from around the world that frequently helps. A member of a German Lions Club recently passed away, and it was his last wish that instead of buying flowers for his funeral, people should make a donation to PSVF and amazingly this raised around 6,000 Euros.
Franco advises anybody who wants to hold any kind of fundraising event to help PSVF, to contact their local Rotarian or Lions club in the first instance, ensuring the event can be seen as credible and there will be control over any proceeds coming from an event. Running the Village certainly needs continuous funding; it costs no less than 500,000 Baht per month to run.
PSVF have now purchased another piece of land beside the Village, which they hope will house a sports and recreational and visitors area. Plans are currently being discussed and it is estimated they will require around 15 million Baht for the project. Once the final numbers have been calculated the Foundation will go about trying to receive the donations they require.
There are some very generous local organisations who offer free time and facilities to keep the children occupied in their free time. Phuket Yacht Club in Ao Yong is a fine example, as every Sunday for the past 3 years they have taken the children to the club and taught them the skills of yachting. As a result of this, one of the eldest children will travel to Holland in August and compete in an International sailing event for his age category. Franco hopes any other local organisations in the same position as Phuket Yacht Club will someday approach them and offer their time and facilities and let the children of PSVF enjoy some of the things many of us take for granted.
PSVF continue to look to increase their numbers of both local and international supporters and there are many ways in which we all can help them. If you’re interested in helping this great foundation in any way you can, please make contact with them or visit their website and you can obtain all the information you need.
Phone & Fax: +66 (0)76-252-204
Phuket Has Been Good To Us Foundation
Established after the Tsunami in 2004, Phuket Has Been Good To Us Foundation (PHBGTUF) was set up in order to improve the economic opportunities and life chances of young people, by funding and implementing high quality, practical English language education in government schools on Phuket Island.
The Foundation creates vocational opportunities by developing English skills both through formal education as well as after school and non curricula activities. The Foundation teaches English to over 860 children in two Government schools; employing qualified, fluent English-speaking teachers to provide the best possible English language education. They also run an extracurricular program, Coconut Club, for children who are orphans or whose families are not able to look after them. Each day after school and on Saturdays the children come to the club to join in sports, arts and crafts programs. The aim of the organisation is to help Thai youth become capable and confident English speakers so they can secure well paid employment in Phuket’s tourism industry.
“I was amazed by the work the teachers and volunteers were doing”
Tina Hall – Director of Operations PHBTUF
Born in the UK, Tina Hall attended University in London where she took a degree in Business Studies. Tina had a career in London and Australia as an event and conference organiser.
Almost 4 years ago Tina and her husband took a break from corporate life and visited Phuket to see if they would enjoy the lifestyle and if they could settle and call it home. Unlike her husband, who was happy to spend his time playing golf, Tina didn’t want to sit around and do nothing, so she decided to volunteer at Phuket Has Been Good To Us Foundation (PHBGTUF). Although she had no teaching background, she helped out in the classroom and at the Foundation’s Coconut Club, a club that provides after-school, weekend and inter-session experiences, for the 160 residential students of the Rachaprachnukroh School in Kamala.
Tina decided to enroll in a TEFL course, “During my time as a volunteer, I was amazed by the work the teachers and volunteers were doing. The teachers run amazing classes and created excitement and fun for the children. I enrolled to understand more about what the teachers and volunteers were actually doing in the school” she said.
After 6 months as a volunteer, it was Tina’s intention to return to the cooperate world in Australia. However, prior to the end of her contract Tina became aware the position of Director of Operations at PHBTUF was to become vacant. She spoke to the Director of Operations about the requirements of the role and was sure it was something she could do. She has been here ever since!
Along with raising funds, another of Tina’s duties is finding volunteers. Many volunteers learn of the opportunity from people who have already volunteered themselves, and returned home and shared their experiences with others. “They will tell people how they feel they have made a difference to the children’s lives and how enjoyable the experience is” Tina said. They also do leaflet drops around the island hoping to get locals and expats interested in helping and also place ads on websites specialising in volunteer work abroad.
Tina told us one of the main problems for them, and other charities here who rely on volunteers is volunteer workers still need to have a work permit and business visa. It is an expense that comes from the Foundation’s funds. Foreigners cannot come here and do short time volunteer work, the minimum time they would have a volunteer for is 6 months. Even then, they are just getting into the job and they have to back home again.
When Tina took her business degree, she did so thinking she would run her own business. She believed everything she put in and got back would be for her. However, she never run her own business and whoever she worked for always got 100% out of her. Tina told us “You end up doing this for self satisfaction, knowing you’ve done a good job. However, it’s not you that benefits, it’s the company for whom you’re working.
Now I’m at the Foundation, every minute I work means a child’s education might be better than it had originally been. This job really has a meaning and is so satisfying!”
Many things have happened in her time with the Foundation, but there is one story that really sticks in her mind, and it relates to the after school Coconut Club, originally started when it was noticed school boarders weren’t moving as quickly with their education as those who went home at the end of the school day. Tina went on to tell us, “There was a young boy called Bank, he was 2 or 3 years older than the others in his class and really stood out from the others. The Thai teachers thought he was surly, a bully and trouble maker. However, our teachers could tell he was clever and wanted to work hard. When children in his class teased and bullied him he got very embarrassed.
One night at the Coconut Club he was picked by a helper to play golf and it was noticed he had a really good swing. A short while after we held a golf tournament to raise funds, Bank was chosen to receive lessons from the golf pros and show our supporters how good he was. The following week, Bank was in class as a completely different person. He was showing the others how to play golf and explaining how he was chosen to go and represent the rest of the children. His teacher really noticed this as a big turning point for him. He gained a lot of respect from the other children and he also gained a lot self respect too.”
As there’s only Tina and her small team of volunteers organising fundraising events and seeking sponsorship they’re expanding slowly. They have 5 paid teachers and 2 volunteers, and don’t have money to get more. Once they have the funds, they would like to teach in kindergarten at Kamala School, and provide other schools with free English lessons, from fluent native English speakers.
If you would like to be involved with PHBGTUF, you don’t need to speak Thai or be a qualified teacher. The Foundation welcomes visitors to the afterschool programme where you can help with projects and expose the students to many different English accents. If you’re Thai and you can give one hour a week you would be helping.
With regards to donations, the more money PHBGTUF raises the more teachers they can provide. If you’re interested in donating, visit their website to see how donations can be made. But at the end of the day, it’s not just money people can donate. PHBGTUF accept all kinds of donations helping them save money, exercise books, photocopy paper, ink cartridges and stationary are things they need that cost money.
Even if you’re here on holiday and want to leave something for them, you can leave anything at your hotel and the items will be collected. Anything that helps the Foundation would be very much appreciated.
80/14 Moo 3 T.Kamala, A. Kathu, Phuket, 83150 Thailand
Tel: +66 (0)76-278-146
Fax: +66 (0)76-341-534