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Firstly may I introduce myself – I am Phil Harnett the new President of Rotary Koh Samui. I have been coming to Samui for 8 years now and living here full time for the last year. As a resident and early retiree, I decided that it was time for me to give something back to the community where I lived, so joined Rotary to help some of those on the Island less fortunate than myself and most of you reading this article.
Living here I have found a few misconceptions about Rotary, so let’s try to put those right first.
Myth 1. Rotary is only for senior business people and is a networking club similar to the Freemasons. This of course is incorrect. Rotary in Thailand is made up of normal everyday people, some are retired and some still working – we come from all walks of life. We have no affiliations to any other groups be they political, religious etc … all are welcome both Thais and Expats of any age or background.
Myth 2. Rotary is expensive to join. To become a “full member” of Rotary we do ask for an annual fee which is designed to cover the necessary admin charges to run the organisation. This is important to us as we always promise that 100% of any money donated goes only to the causes we support, none of the donations go to pay for admin. The current fees are 6000Bht / year. ( about 2 beers per week ) However, to help support Rotary you do not need to become a full member, as a “Friend of Rotary” you pay nothing – you are just prepared to come to the meetings and give your ideas, enthusiasm and a little time.
Myth 3. Rotary is only for Expats. During a recent training meeting I was surprised to find that actually Rotary in Thailand is almost all Thai people helping their own communities. There are more than 200 Rotary clubs around Thailand and of these only 4 of them are “Expat based” Whilst Koh Samui has traditionally been run by Expats – we would welcome any Thai people who wish to become involved in any way. It is important to know that Rotary in Thailand has the Patronage of the King, so it can be seen that Rotary is supported at the highest levels of Thai society.
Myth 4. If I join Rotary I will have to give lots of my time. This is totally up to you. We meet for a couple of hours at 7pm every two weeks at Nickki Beach and chat through things, and you can have a dinner there as well if you want to. Time outside of that is voluntary, and if you miss a meeting it is fine.
So there you have it, Rotary is just a group of people from many different backgrounds and situations all getting together to help some of the people on the Island or nearby.
What does Rotary do then …. ?
We have done many projects to help people in the past and to take a look at all of them please go to our website at www.rotarysamui.org
For the last 2 years our main project has been to support the construction of a new School for Special Needs Children. This is currently being built and we hope that along with other groups we can jointly complete the construction this year. Rotary has already donated more than 500,000Bht towards this. Once construction is finished, there will be many other expenses that need our support such as furniture, classroom games, art materials, books, a playground etc … so we envisage supporting the school for some time to come. It is truly a deserving cause.
For the future, we have many ideas of how to raise more money to support the island, and would welcome anyone who is willing to give a little time to join us. As a start please feel free to come along to one of our monthly dinners. They are usually the last Friday of each month and details can always be found on our website. We try to pick top class venues around the island where great food and free flow drinks can be served for the evening – all for only 1000Bht. If you would prefer, then come along to any of our meetings at Nickki Beach. We meet every 2nd Wednesday evening starting at 7pm. To find out any information please feel free to contact me personally on firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to welcoming you to Rotary Samui.