Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: An ensemble of 10 top-flight classical musicians accompanied by 100 students performed a free concert in Phuket recently to raise funds for Myanmar refugee children living near the border town of Sangkhlaburi, in Kanchanaburi province.

The two-hour concert was held at the Andaman Embrace Resort and Spa on Haad Patong Road.

The ensemble of Korean musicians operates under an organization called Concert World and travels abroad to perform charity concerts twice a year, explained Sangsoo "John" Han, Regional Director of World Share Thailand.

"The Concert World benefit performances have been taking place for 13 years now, and this concert was organized by World Share," he added.

Around 50,000 refugees live in the Sangkhla Buri jungle close to the Myanmar border. The refugees are restricted to the area, with no electricity or running water in their homes.

Most of the refugee families make broomsticks for a living, earning about 1,000 baht per family per month. There are no sewers and 60 per cent of households in the village do not have toilets.To support a border school and alleviate the conditions the refugees are living in, World Share is raising funds to provide a dormitory, nourishing food and medical services.

The United Nations refugee villages in the area will no longer receive support from December next year, and the dormitories the refugee children currently stay in while receiving what education is available, are already deteriorated and in the process of moving to a pay-for system.

"We would like to provide a dormitory for students around the ages of 10-15 and to help them to enter university or to become working members of society," World Share says.

In order to do that, World Share will provide accommodation, meals, pocket money, uniforms, textbooks, education and scholarships, if the children are accepted to a university.

Among the medical services to be provided is care for 15-year-old Suri, who was born with webbed fingers and toes and a fused spine, which prevents her from moving her arms and legs. She can’t chew properly, so her food needs to be chewed or otherwise ground down for her.

Suri’s mother passed away eight months after giving birth to her younger sister, so her father is homebound to take care of her and cannot work outside.

World Share’s support for medical services for Suri started on May 6, after staff received a letter from Sangkhlaburi Hospital.

World Share asked the cost and availability of surgery for the girl, and on June 24, through the help of the Sangkhlaburi District Office, Suri and her father travelled to Sirirat Hospital in Bangkok for an expert.

A second checkup will take place on September 4 and an operation is scheduled for September 27. According to doctors, Suri will be able to hold things after surgery. She will even be able to walk and use her arms after physical therapy.

"However, [an] operation on her spine is impossible," the report said.

This article first appeared in the current issue (Jul 27-Aug 2) of the hard-copy Phuket Gazette newspaper, now on sale at newsstands throughout the island. Digital subscribers may download the full newspaper, this week and every week, by clicking her here.

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