December 31st 2006 saw the end of Rotary Club of Koh Samui’s (ROCKS) commitment to tsunami relief on the west coast of Thailand. For two years, the club had helped to regenerate a shattered community on the island of Koh Pratong, Tung Dap, and give the people of that village a quality of life that they had not had before the tsunami. In addition, ROCKS had ensured that children of 4 villages received an education that their parents had not been able to provide, and funded a Training and Education Centre for the whole of the Kuraburi area in Phang Nga to ensure a bright and viable future.
But now it was time to ‘say good bye’ to the village that was nearest to our hearts, Tung Dap. A party of ROCKS members had made their own farewells to the villagers back in October 2006, and at that time had invited the villagers to come to Koh Samui and say their own farewells. The trip was arranged for 23 January 2007, and with members of the North Andaman Tsunami Relief, NATR, who had overseen all of ROCKS projects, they journeyed from Kuraburi to Suratthani and the ferry port at Donsak by minibus. There they crossed the strait between Donsak and Koh Samui, to be welcomed by ROCKS President, Adèle Smith and Rotarian Wally Smith, who had led the project for its two years. When the visitors had been settled into a hotel in Lamai, they were then escorted to a Restaurant high above Lamai, Beverley Hills, where ROCKS members, partners, ‘Friends of ROCKS’, and a member of sister club, Tormohun, England, who had funded a deep well in Tung Dap. 50 people in all sat down to an supper on that memorable occasion.
But the highlight of the evening was a performance by some of the villagers who demonstrated traditional dances of the Moken, or Sea Gypsy, people. They then invited Bodhi, head of NATR and President Adèle, to join them in their dance.
The next day, a smaller group of the visitors joined a weekly meeting of ROCKS in their meeting venue of Chaweng Regent Resort, where President Adèle presented Jo Birrel of NATR with a final cheque for TREC. Individual members of Tung Dap spoke of their gratitude to ROCKS for all that they had done for their community. Members were touched and gladdened by the event, which was rounded off by the presentation of a Batik banner with the simple message of thanks. Members said goodbye to the people of Tung Dap, and their good friends in NATR, saddened to think that it was the last time they would see them, but gladdened that they had made such a difference to these people.