December 24, 2022

Submitted by Dan Hall

Editor’s Note: Now, at Christmas time, a team of three students attending the Summit Technology Academy International Program are involved with giving of their talent toward a wonderful international service project. Students Jared Robinson, Mahala Stevens and Jadyn Swartz composed the following article. Their article describes this humanitarian work among the poorest Thai people.

In Bangkok, Thailand, boarding the Chao Phraya River, there are five square miles of land that around 100,000 people call home. The mission of Rotary and Summit Technology’s Global Prep Squad students is to help organize and fund the building of a new and improved living space for a “special case” family. The project came to Rotary’s Lee’s Summit Rotary Club by way of the South Bangkok Rotary Club.

This “special case” of an extended family living in the Klong Toei slums consists of twenty-two children and seven adults, all living in a one-room, 15ft by 20ft building without utilities. This house had no electricity or safe water, and no separation of the boys and girls living there. With no utilities, sanitation levels were very bad. This brings many different health risks to the table, like infection and disease. In addition, various other health concerns were present, like teen pregnancies, inbred pregnancies, and genetic disorders.

The Bangkok Community Help Foundation (BCHF) has already built three separate dwellings in the Klong Toei slums. The Klong Toei Community Elected Leadership Committee approached BCHF and were seeking aid for this “special case” family. Their plan includes demolishing the existing dwelling and, in its place, build a two story, four-bedroom building on the same land foot-print. This building will have utilities like running water, toilets and electricity, to which the family didn’t previously have access. The construction of this two-story building is expected to be completed in four months. At the end of this time, this house will include running water, electricity, and plumbing, along with having enough room to allow separate bedrooms thus privacy for the 22 girls and boys who are all physically related.

The Bangkok Rotary Foundation, in cooperation with the Lee’s Summit Rotary Club, is working on this project within the slums of Khlong Toei. The environment of this house, and many others in these slums, are in no condition to house as many children that had been living there. This is a large social issue due to how many problems come out of these extended families living together. Because of absent laws prohibiting incest, first-cousins are able to marry and have children. This can result in various birth defects and genetic disorders. These mentally-challenged children are not being equipped with the resources they need to survive in society. Teen pregnancy is also a very real problem being faced within these slums, due partly to the lack of separation of boys and girls at a young age.

The BCHF began demolition of their old dwelling on October 18th. The completion of the new building will be in four months (by February 2023). The house is going to be built on the same fifteen by twenty-foot “foot print” and will include a kitchen, toilets, clean water, living room, and bedrooms.

The 250,000 THB (US$8,000) funding of the Klong Toei Slum Community two story dwelling comes from several sources. The Lee’s Summit (noon) Rotary Club has invested $1,000 toward the new dwelling. Randy Weeda, who chairs the Rotary Club International Committee, said that the new dwelling shows the international commitment of the Lee’s Summit Rotary Club. Likewise, the Bangkok, Thailand, South Rotary club has already invested $7,000 toward construction costs. The Bangkok South club will also pay for furnishing of this 2 story, 4-bedroom dwelling. This new dwelling is also supported by the Bangkok Community Help Foundation. Rotarian, Dan Hall, who serves as the student’s advisor, said that the motto of Rotary International is, “Service above self – one profits most who serves best.” Hall said that this project, helping these twenty two poorest children enjoy good housing, is what the spirit of Christmas is really all about – not in receiving but in giving to others.