The Rural Area Medical Aid Foundation (RAMA) is a Charity under the Royal Patronage of His Majesty the King and is organized by Doctors, Dentists, Pharmacists, Nurses and various volunteers.
In the 1990s, a project was started within BCTFN to digitise much of the archives held in the office - photographs of past Ploenchit Fairs and photos from charity projects; historical documents charting the year-on-year progress of British involvement in helping Thailand through charitable causes; posters, programmes and other flyers which have appeared over the years.
It was a big project that took several years to complete. Then the project redirected to finding a way to display these historical items in a way that the public could access them at any time and the obvious answer to that was - a website!
So, www.bctfn.org became the archival website for the British Community in Thailand Foundation for the Needy. It is a large website containing thousands of photos and documents. The archives are organised by year for Ploenchit Fair - with year menu groups starting from "1990 & Earlier" right up to the present day. Charity Projects information is organised under the BCTFN menu.
There are 4 TLDs - Top Level Domains: bctfn.org, bctfn.com, ploenchitfair.org and ploenchitfair.com - but only one website. Whichever address you use, you will arrive at this website.
Once a year the front pages of the website are taken over by information for the upcoming Ploenchit Fair for that year. All the news and exctiement of Ploenchit Fair dominates the front pages of the website. Just after Ploenchit Fair, the winners of the Grand Raffle and the Colouring Competitions etc are published.
But for 12 months of the year, the website achieves its primary objective - to be an open and accessible archive of the histories of Ploenchit Fair and BCTFN and the charitable profile of the British Community in Thailand over the years.
Baan Than Namthip School locates at Village No 10, Thung Saliam District, Sukhothai Province (North of Thailand) established in 1977 by the cooperation of communities in that area, later it was transferred to under supervision by the Education Department. Currently the school is open for classes from kindergarten to primary grade 6. There are 66 students and 4 teachers, Ms. Janphen Subpracha is the head teacher. This school is small and locates 45 km away from the office of Sukhothai Education Zone.
Immediately after breakfast the next morning, work began with two of the doctors carrying out cataract operations on people who had been checked and evaluated on a previous visit and the other doctor started to check the hundreds of awaiting patients. In fact, Dr. Tick (Tipapan Sang-On) screened almost 400 people before going into theatre to operate for the last couple of hours and together with Dr. Man (Mantanee Pairachvet) and Dr. Nid (Naraporn Taechamaneesatit), 39 cataract operations were performed on the first day.
The second day began with those patients who had been operated on the previous day being checked and having their eyes cleaned with more antibiotic drops being applied. The doctors then began their almost ‘conveyor belt’ system of operating on the remainder whose cataracts needed urgent attention. It is non-stop for the whole team and only breaks for meals interrupt the flow.
As Songkran had only just passed, the hospital staff arranged for a special Northern style kantoke dinner preceded by a mini ‘Sawasdee Pi Mai’ celebration which resulted in many of us getting wet, as I predicted! It was great fun and singing plus a karaoke ensued but it was so good for them all to relax after a gruelling two days.
The third day was the final round up of checks on those operated on the previous day and the day before. When all had been examined, cleaned and re-bandaged, a group photo was taken and then speeches in Thai were made by two patients and whilst we did not understand a word, the gratitude they felt was easily understood. A short prayer was chanted and the patients presented the ‘team’ with roses which brought forth tears flowing from me and Sharon. It is so humbling to see the transition this operation can make in the lives of such poor people, giving them quality with the ability to see again.
Since early morning, the team had been packing away the equipment on to the coach in readiness for the long journey back to Bangkok so more farewells and hugs were made. The PECF travel the length and breadth of Thailand every month, bringing light into the families of those afflicted with cataracts thus ensuring a better quality of life for so many. We were honoured to be considered ‘one of the team’.
N.B. BCTFN have been supporting PECF for almost ten years with donations towards the purchase of necessary lenses which enable the cataract victims to see and lead a useful life again after an operation. Often the elderly take care of the younger members of the family whilst parents work and having a sight impaired parent means an added burden to the family, giving them sight is a wonderful gift.