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UP, UP & Away In the Land Of Smiles.

Last month, August 2003, one Saturday evening I was taking a break on my way back from somewhere or other and called into the Flying Club where I discovered three open sided marque tent things had been constructed, with tables and chairs etc,. Also there was Jum & some other girls preparing for something. Most curious I thought, so being nosey, I had to ask Jim - who was also there - what was happening. He said that it was for Jumís birthday. OK, thatís nice I thought. Then it was explained to me that there was going to be something of a big event the next day as they had invited 40 children from the St, Camillus Foundation of Thailand to come and join in the fun and take flights in an Ultra Light Aircraft.

 

Click on the image too see it enlarged

Jum's birthday cake shared amongst the children at the end of a day that they never expected in there wildest dreams.

Mr Tom's Aircraft.

I asked Jim if they were taking donations and I was told no as it was something that he was doing off his own bat along with Josh, the other flying instructor. It turns out that unbeknown to me Jim had had a request from the foundation to give a young lad a last request of a flight in an aircraft; he is dying of AIDS. This was a few weeks earlier. So when it came to Jumís birthday and Jim asked her what she would like to do she could think of nothing better than to share it with the children from the foundation who are all HIV positive. So I asked Jim what time it was to begin and told him I would be there to lend a hand in whatever way I could the next day.
Sunday came along and as usual I picked up Mr. Tim for breakfast which was good as always. The day was nice and bright at that time and it all looked good for the afternoon activities. On returning from breakfast at about 11 oíclock I saw Jim heading off quite quickly in the opposite direction. The event was due to start at about 1 oíclock, so I imagined that there must be some problem. Josh was there already so I asked if there was problem and apparently there wasnít but it was just Jim having left something to the last minute.  As I was already there I decided that my e-mails could wait till later and I might as well just take the time off and sit around passing the time with Josh and another Dutch man. Jim returned not long after with a truck load of soda and other party fare. This we unloaded - he also had some small ice coolers which, compared with my giant one, looked a little puny so I took it upon myself to go home and get my large one and fill it with ice. When I returned a good few more people had arrived, standing around waiting for the children to arrive but by this time the weather was beginning to look on the doubtful side with some rather black clouds gathering in the west. The prevailing wind is westerly at this time of year so things were not looking too good for flying

Mr., Josh The flying Dutchman 70 something taxing for take off. He is there every day at 7 O'clock flying. For sure he is also good for a coffee & some word's of wisdom.

Sadly he died in a flying accident in May 2004 missed by all at the flying club. I need to say not in the sort of aircraft you see here in the photo, he had treated himself to a new aircraft with controls that work entirely opposite to this aircraft in which he had over 2000 hours of flying experience. So the children where in no danger while he was flying in this type of aircraft that he was so used too.

Click on the image too see it enlarged

Mr. Jim's Aircraft, just doing final check's before getting one of the Kid's aboard.

This is OU the 12yr, old lad who started the whole thing off for me. Georgina who you can see in the photo slightly down to the right contacted Jim who's aircraft this is to give him a short flight as his last request back in June of 2003 and he is still with us to day in on Christmas of 2005 looking a lot better than he did in this photo, thanks to the help of donations and the great care that the foundation offers for these Kid's. The fact is this work that Fr, Giovanni does gives life to these children that they would not have without his devotion.

There was also an enterprising young Thai ice-cream salesman with his motorcycle & sidecar unit, so I thought if nothing else I could buy them all an ice-cream. The first load arrived in Fr, Giovanniís covered pick up truck - about six to eight of them. Shortly after, the majority arrived in a covered truck driven by one of the foundationís Thai staff.  

Unfortunately by now it was beginning to rain and there was a real fear that there was going to be no flying that day. The rain was light for Thailand at this time of year but it normally increases the wind speed and as it was almost directly from the west it made the prospect of landing in a strong cross wind somewhat on the tricky side. The children all with big smiles on their faces soon started digging into ice-cream, rice and barbequed pork - not in any particular order - along with coke and potato crisps. OK this food was probably not on their diet sheet but it is one instance that could be overlooked as unlike your kids and mine they donít get a chance to eat like this very often. They are all orphans who have contracted HIV from their now deceased mothers. They are aged from about two to thirteen and have a life expectancy of about 12 months at the foundation.

 

The short flights began despite the light rain and after the first landing it was obvious what my job was to be, as all the children waiting for their turn, began to surge forward as the aircraft was coming to a halt. This is a very dangerous situation indeed with whirling propellers and excited children. So my job was acting as a ground steward, making sure the children did not rush forward until guided by me. First taking the previous one out and putting the next one in making sure that they were securely fastened in their seat belts and that they had their earphones on. The rain was a little intermittent but the flights were only curtailed for a shot period at one stage during the event. Jim and Josh flew for about 4 hours each that afternoon. Josh flew a little less because the cockpit on his aircraft is entirely open and rain hitting you directly in the face at 60 mph is not much fun.

All the children had giant smiles on their faces after their flights as it was something they never would have expected to do in their short lives. I tell you this; if you had just turned up and you had not known, apart from the one boy who is nearing the end, you would never have suspected that they were all terminally ill.  Apart from Fr, Giovanni there was a Canadian couple helping full time at the foundation. They were helping keep the kids in order and with the food, along with Jum and her sisters. With doing the ground crew job, I didnít get a lot of time to talk that day but I asked the Canadian couple how they did it. How could they manage day after day just watching these poor children die?

I donít know whether, as yet, I fully understand their answer, which was Ďyou just doí. Could you do it?  I am sure itís beyond me? 

There was a giant birthday cake but not for long.  We all got a piece and, surprisingly, knowing Thai confectionery, it was really quite good. Everybody had a good time that day and even the ice-cream salesman went home with a smile on this face, for what was left at the end was loaded into ice boxes and sent along with the kids. I would not mind betting that this was the first time he had ever sold out completely! 

The Fr Giovanni and the Foundation does what it can for as many children as they can, to make their lives as comfortable as possible during their last months on this earth. 

What I want to do to help is this. With Fr, Giovanniís permission I would like to give an extra discount of 5% off all my sales starting as soon as this goes live on the web-site. That is 5% extra discout, despite any other discount applying to the sale and we ask you to send the equivalent amount directly to the Foundation in the form of a personal cheque by post.  Please feel free to donate more than the exact 5% should you so desire, Fr, Giovanni will not return it, of that I am sure. If you care to have a look at the URL listed below you can see all their income and where it comes from and with a little more help Fr, Giovanni can look after more unfortunate children in the years to come. In future I hope to be able to include an addressed envelope for the foundation along with the goods.  

Click on the image too see it enlarged

 

This is Jum the first lady Ultra Light pilot on Thailand on the far left. It was her idea to spend her birthday giving all these kid's the day of there life. She has now resumed her education in the USA & is no doubt worrying some of the Young American boy's over there right now.

Itís not in our power to cure them. 

However it is in our power to help them in a special way and assist them in giving education and fighting for the best care, to be provided by health care institutions.

Fr, Giovanni sayís that we have to realize that we all are in God's hand. 

Such is the media and the animal that it is, there is a lot of good work going on in Thailand by a lot of very good people but this never reaches the 6 oíclock news. 

(A poi-script from Fr, Giovanni.) 

WHAT IS THE LIFE EXPECTANCY FOR CHILDREN LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS? 

A study published by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that the use of Anti Retroviral drugs is allowing children living with HIV/AIDS to survive and become adults. Eight young women, who were HIV positive since birth, delivered healthy, uninfected babies.  Today, with proper treatment and care, mother-to-child HIV transmission can almost always be prevented. At present we have 4 female teenagers living at our Center, with the oldest being 17. We know and believe they have a future that is linked, not only to medication, but to the opportunity of receiving good care and an education, too.  Then they can enjoy life as we do!  Through your generosity we are able to provide our children with the best possible care.

Thank you Fr.Giovanni 

The address for the foundation is, 

St. Camillus Foundation of Thailand.

Camillian Social Center, Rayong,

1/1 Soi Kiri Huae Pong, Rayong, Thailand.

Tel :      (038) 685480  Fax :     (038) 687480 

Donations can be sent direct via, your bank account to.

A/C St, Camillus Foundation of Thailand

Bank of Ayudhya map Ta-Phut Branch Rayong.

A/C No, 229-1-29336-3

URL :               http://www.camillian-rayong.org/

Email :              cscrayon@loxinfo.co.th 

Director :          Fr, Giovanni Contarin.

 

 

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