December 8-10 2013
For the 9th occasion since 2004, the Rotary Club of Koh Samui was delighted to welcome ‘their orphans’ from the Mercy Centre in Klong Toey, Bangkok. 37 children aged between 4 and 13 years old, with 3 chaperones left Bangkok late on Friday 6th December in three minibuses, and travelled overnight to arrive at Donsak by 7am on Saturday 7th December, beating the welcome committee, which arrived at 7.30 am, in the shape of Gary Byrne and Ta who live in Kanom, and who had offered to meet the children and travel to Samui with them for the whole of the weekend.
They all boarded the 9am ferry to be greeted in Koh Samui by Past President Adele Smith and Rotarian husband Wally, who then escorted the party to Bangrak where they were to enjoy a lunch at the new Lebanese Restaurant, Nadimos, in Prana Resort. They were greeted by GM Richard Al Ghoul and his assistant Twinkle Turqueza. The children had their first experience of Lebanese food, which they enjoyed, followed by the more conventional jelly and ice cream! They then donned their swimwear and experienced another ‘first’ by going down to the beach and splashing in the sea!
When they had had enough, they travelled on to Imperial Boathouse, Choengmon, where GM Doeke Bonga had generously offered to sponsor enough rooms for the children, their chaperones and drivers!
The children were presented with ‘designer’ T shirts and name badges, before checking into their rooms. They had some ‘time out’ to relax before setting off for their next experience! They travelled to Bar Ice in Chaweng where GM Steve and Oli Johnson had laid on a clown who did clever magic tricks and sculpted balloons, while the children took turns to dress up warmly and venture into the Ice Room.
Having thawed out, the children moved on to Bangkok Restaurant, Chaweng, where ex-Rotarian Paul and founder of ‘Kids’ Weekend’ was waiting to host a party. A tasty supper was followed by entertainment from Todd Lavelle, who had travelled from Bangkok with his musician brother especially for the occasion. This ‘children’s favourite’ kept his audience enthralled with his lively show and songs, and had the children laughing all the while. Before leaving the party, all the children were presented by a ‘goodie bag’, packed by Lorraine Clark, who had organized all of the venues. She had been ably assisted with her packing by ex-Rotarian Stewart Evans. A group of very tired children made their way back to Imperial Boat House to have a good sleep in preparation for the next, fun packed day.
Day two found the children having their breakfast as soon as possible so that they could spend time in the hotel pool. They reluctantly dressed ready for their next outing, but soon cheered up when they arrived at New Star Resort, Chaweng Noi, where a Beach BBQ awaited them, with the chance for beach games to follow. Sadly the waves were too high for safety to splash in the sea, but having eaten their fill, the children soon helped themselves to the beach balls and toys provided, and game of volleyball began, as well as sandcastle building and numerous other activities.
It had been planned to take them to the nearby Aquapark, but owner Claire Meczes warned that conditions were too dangerous. The children opted to return to Imperial Boathouse to enjoy the pool until it was time to head to Lamai and their Christmas party!
They received a warm welcome to Samui Shamrock, where their host, Danny Kelly, and his staff awaited them. For this occasion, Danny doubled as DJ, and the group was soon regaled by ‘Gangam Style’ music and hilarious videos, as they tucked into a buffet meal, but the children were soon requesting their own music, and within minutes, were all singing along. After the meal followed by an ice cream courtesy of the next door Ice Cream Parlour, the children delighted the onlookers with some dance routines, with a group of boys showing off their skills as break dancers. Then the Gangam music started up again, with the rest of the children swarming onto the stage to join in!! When their energy finally started to flag, PP Adele joined them on stage, and thanked Samui Shamrock for their generous hospitality. While she was speaking, a familiar figure was spotted entering the stage with a large sack! Father Christmas was enthusiastically greeted and he soon discovered gifts for all the children, having time to have a word with each of them, translated by Khun Ratana, who had just arrived with Fr Joe Meier, founder of the Mercy Centre. Santa departed with a cherry wave and the exhausted youngsters were finally escorted back to their minibuses to return to the Resort and their beds!
The final day of the holiday was spent at Imperial Boathouse Resort, where staff from Four Seasons Resort, kept the children occupied with an art competition and beach games, rounded off with lunch provided by Four Seasons. ‘House Moms’ from the Mercy Centre were then presented with baskets packed with goodies, courtesy of Four Seasons.
There was some time left to enjoy the Imperial’s pool again, but all too soon, it was time to ‘say goodbye’. But before they left, the Mercy Centre party said ‘thank you’ to Rotarians present with a gift and their own touching way of giving thanks. They were waved off their sad hosts to begin their long journey home.
THE ROTARY CLUB OF KOH SAMUI WOULD LIKE TO THANK ALL SPONSORS WHO HELPED MAKE THIS WEEKEND SUCH A SUCCESS, WITH MEALS, OUTINGS, CHRISTMAS GIFTS AND HELP WITH TRAVEL COSTS.