Wat Jaeng School, Nathon, Koh Samui
In May 2006, a teacher from Wat Jaeng School, Khun Bee, spoke with a member of the Rotary Club of Koh Samui, and described how her school had a severe flooding problem with one of its buildings.
This building housed the restaurant area for the entire school of 573 children, and also had two classrooms. The local government told the school that there were no funds available to carry out vital renovations. It was particularly sad for this school, which is situated outside the provincial capital of Samui, and is one of the oldest on the island. Founded 76 years ago, the school has 573 students from 4–12 years old. Most of its buildings were very run down and in need of renovation, but the restaurant was the worst. In spite of its problems, Wat Jaeng School has great community spirit; three of its teachers were former pupils of the school, and the Headmaster, Khun Biawan’s own father had been a student there many years before.The Rotary member, Heinz Wollenteit, suggested that the school should put the facts on paper, and suggest a solution to the problem, with an estimate of costs, which could be put to the Rotary Club of Koh Samui.This they did, with the proposal that four new classrooms could be created underneath a set of four existing classrooms. The cost was estimated to be in the region of 600,000 baht.
The project was greeted with enthusiasm by the ROCKS, as the Club members feel that the children of the community are of special importance as they are the future of that community. Though Koh Samui is a relatively wealthy island by virtue of its large number of visitors, and its sizable ex-patriot residents, the Thai community does not entirely share in this prosperity, and most of its schools are under-resourced. The project also fitted with one of the avenues put forward by William Boyd for the Rotary Year 2006 – 2007, that of ‘Literacy’. A third factor was that Installation Night was approaching, and it was deemed appropriate that any profits arising from that event should go to this worthy project. The school was delighted with the Club’s commitment, and the Headmaster, Khun Biawan, and Khun Bee, brought a troupe of their students to the Installation Night, where they delighted the guests with a display of Thai dancing.
A member of the ROCKS, Mike Langaskens, owned a construction company, and he immediately stepped forward with the proposal that the work should commence as soon as possible, and by September of 2006, the classrooms were well on their way to completion. The work was carried out to an extremely high standard, as Mike would not tolerate sub-standard work, either for his house building projects, or in the renovation project.
During the construction work, Khun Mike’s team did an inspection of the rest of the school, and noted the main building was also in desperate need of repair, with the main problem being the roof, which was leaking badly and likely to fail completely within the next 2 – 3 years. Mike put forward a proposal to strip off the roof, replace the sub-structure with an aluminium interlock system, and then put new roofing material on. The proposal was put to the Board of ROCKS and was unanimously approved that this phase would be fully funded by ROCKS. The aluminium roof support system was duly ordered and work commenced in January of 2007 after the cessation of the annual rains. With such a large commitment to meet, ROCKS immediately started to plan various fundraising activities so that this vital work could be completed without delay.
On Tuesday, 8th April, the new classrooms were officially handed over to the school, in the presence of officials from the Samui local government, and the area local government. Along with Rotarians, Profmil staff, staff and parents from the school, a delightful celebration was enjoyed by all.
The larger school building had its new roof fitted and completed by June 2007. The final touch was a complete repainting of the structure.
Much of this final work was made possible by generous sponsorship. A simple ceremony completed ROCKS commitment to this delightful school,with the handing over a plaque listing our sponsors.