One of the great charities I got to know on the island is Phuket Has Been Good To Us. This Foundation was set up post-tsunami by Tom McNamara – a local restaurateur on the island. In the wake of the tsunami disaster, Mr. McNamara wanted to give back to the island after this horrible incident. As his company had been working together for the longest time with the school on Kalim Beach, he approached the Headmaster of the school to see how he could set up something longterm and sustainable for the island. In this conversation the Headmaster expressed his concerns about the quality of English education on schools. English is a very important language – especially in a place like Phuket, as there are so many tourist coming to the island on a yearly basis. By giving the kids exposure to English, and teaching them to speak, write and read the language, they will be able to find a job easier in the tourism industry – the biggest industry on the island. And so after the idea was created to start an English language program for local schools in Phuket.
To understand better why Mr. McNamara became convinced why such a program was so important for the island, we need to consider the history of Thailand. This is the only country in the Southeast Asia region that was never dominated by a European power during the age of colonisation – a fact where the Thais are obviously proud of. Probably due to this reason, Thailand has retained a cultural uniqueness, that to this day continues to make it a source of fascination and delight. English is spoken throughout the country, but not spoken nearly as well as places like Malaysia, Singapore or Indonesia. In a 2005 study, Thailand ranked second to last among nations in the region in English language skills…
The dominant economic factor on the island now is the leisure and hospitality industry. When you travel around Phuket you will find English signs on almost every road, it is the common language here besides Thai, especially for the tourist visiting the island. However, on Phuket, few Thais speak English very well, and especially in this line of work the demand is high for staff with good English skills.
With the support of the Headmaster of the Kalim school, the Governor of Phuket was approached to launch an English Program. It was decided that a charity foundation should be established to launch the program, as a pilot project, at Kalim school. Hence the start of Phuket Has Been Good To Us.
So what does Phuket Has Been Good To Us do?
At this moment the Foundation teaches at three different schools in Kalim and Kamala. The qualified and fluent English teachers teach over 1,000 children in these three locations.
Besides that they also run an after-school programme called Coconut Club. The club is open to the 130 residential students of the Rachaprachnukroh School in Kamala and to the Primary 5 and 6 classes at Baan Kalim School in Kalim. During these after-school activities the kids are being exposed to more English but in a fun and entertaining way. For the 130 residential – who are organs or children whose families are not able to look after them – this club is not only their for English language skills. Before Coconut Club was created, the kids rarely had the opportunity to leave the school grounds or engage in any activity outside the routine of their school. Now with all the activities that are being organised by Phuket Has Been Good To Us, the kids get to experience many activities. During the week there are cooking and crafting classes, and in the weekend the kids often are taken to a hotel or restaurant in the area that has a swimming pool, so they can learn how to swim and enjoy the water. By doing so they get to know a lot of volunteers that help out at the Foundation, and in this way learn English in a different setting.
Phuket Has Been Good To Us does not receive government funding, and relies solely on the generosity of people to continue the great work they are doing. However they also find ways to raise their money, for instance frequently organising fundraisers. And not any dull kind of fundraiser either! Last year alone they had a Miami Beach Party, an Night at the Opera, a Karaoke evening and a Muay Thai Black Thai evening. You can imagine that every time there are a lot of people attending these events. Also, they organise a pub quiz at Aussie Pub Kamala on a monthly basis, for which everyone can join.
Still they need additional support to be able to pay for their teachers and arrange for the visa for them and the office staff. And for this reason they are always looking for ways to support their cause.
So what can you do to help out?
Some ideas are:
- Donate money;
- Sponsor a child;
- Donate a gift-in-kind;
- Host a fundraising event in support of the foundation;
- Incorporate charitable giving into your wedding or event celebration;
- Become a volunteer.
At this moment the Foundation is looking for qualified teachers and an office fellow to join their team in the beginning of next year. If you’re interested, or if you know anyone who is interested, make sure to contact the Foundation as soon as possible!
To find out more information, head over to Phuket Has Been Good To Us website.
Phuket Has Been Good To Us
80/14 Moo 3, Kamala, Kathu, Phuket, 83150, Thailand
Tel: +66 (0)76 278 146