UP, UP & Away In the
Land Of Smiles.
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
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
|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
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
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 :
can be sent direct via, your bank account to.
A/C St, Camillus Foundation of Thailand
Bank of Ayudhya map Ta-Phut Branch
A/C No, 229-1-29336-3
Director : Fr, Giovanni Contarin.