President's Message October 2021
October 2021
This month’s Rotary International theme is Economic, and Community Development. 
This title has certainly become a challenge both locally, Nationally and Internationally as we enter October and potentially the 20th month covid has impacted all our lives.
Thailand has successfully reduced poverty over the past three decades from over 65 percent in 1988 to under 10 percent in 2018. However, the growth of household incomes and consumption growth both have stalled nationwide in recent years. This resulted in a reversal in the progress of poverty reduction in Thailand with the number of people living in poverty rising, according to a new World Bank report which analyzes recent poverty and inequality trends based on official statistics.
Between 2015 and 2018, the poverty rate in Thailand increased from 7.2 percent to 9.8 percent, and the absolute number of people living in poverty rose from 4.85 million to more than 6.7 million. The increase in 2018 was widespread - occurring in all regions and in 61 out of 77 provinces. In the Central and Northeast, the number of poor increased by over half a million in each region during the same period. The conflict-affected South became the area with the highest poverty rate for the first time in 2017.
However, there is currently no data available on current levels generally in Thailand during the pandemic; but it is safe to assume reading daily news items that in the last 20 months the level of poverty will have increased significantly.
What can we do as a Rotary Club? Over the years we have not entered into supporting or providing economic support for our communities, focusing on providing sustainable support to develop education in our two flagship projects, which in turn hopefully will lead to providing improved economic stability for the local communities through better education.
However, with regards economic support our club and members have an opportunity to provide help in terms of micro loans. Following a recent talk by our long-term Rotarian friend from the Rotary club of Aireborough in the UK Roger and Carol Ward. In this zoom presentation to our club, they spoke of a club and personal project to provide micro loans to Asian Countries and this is something our club may embark on, or even some of our members may wish to engage in.
In Asia alone there are 1.7 million people who do not have a bank account, therefore no access to legally, reasonably priced credit, which in turn means they turn to loan sharks and end up paying exorbitant amounts of interest on their loans.
Through an initiative of Kiva, Founded in the USA in 2005, they have provided micro loans to 3.8 million borrowers in 77 countries, provided by 1.9 lenders which has resulted in USD 1.54 billion in loans to people who have no access to reasonable credit.
This is a subject that will be discussed at the next board meeting.
Despite Covid-19 we have tried to keep the momentum going with our local projects. Since June 2021 we have partnered other agencies such as Jungle aid by supporting the purchase of their replacement vehicle so they can continue to provide valuable support to the five communities they have maintained over the last few years.
We have also engaged in smaller local projects such as raincoats for children in the hill communities in Northern Thailand, purchasing two lap top computers for Mercy House Foundation to enable improved home studies, support for two hospitals here in Hua Hin by purchasing equipment that can improve both the healthcare in the local community and safety of the people who provide that care. And lastly purchasing 50 soccer kits for the Nong Hoi school.
Sadly, you now may be aware that the Golf Committee with the approval of the Board of Directors has now made the difficult decision to cancel this years Amateur Golf Classic because of the uncertain climate due to Covid-19.
As this is our only source of fundraising, the money available for projects will be more limited with focus on smaller cost-effective projects within our community.  It also highlights the need for us as a club to diversify in how we raise funds and any suggestions on how to do this will be greatly welcomed from our members. It does not need to be in the same league as our golf tournament, but smaller events that raise some funds and engages our members and friends will be considered. 
Rotary International wants us to participate to improve lives with sustainable and long-lasting projects which impact our communities.  Let us continue to Change Lives by supporting economic and community development through our service projects and by contributing to The Rotary Foundation which we have been doing for nearly a decade through Every Rotary Every Year – EREY.
Rotarians worldwide are determined to reduce poverty through projects that deliver equipment, vocational training, and work to strengthen local entrepreneurs and community leaders.
October 24th has again been marked World Polio Day, although what project we will engage in may be determined by what we are allowed to do through local restrictions.
Once again this year is proving difficult for our club, however let us not forget wherever you are in the world, let us continue to support each other, stay in contact and more importantly stay safe and well.
Yours in Rotary.
Phil Lawrence
President of the Rotary Club of Royal Hua Hin.