Water of Life: Fundraising in High Style



Elisia Brodeur, Communications Specialist, Ruamrudee International School, Thailand


In December, Ruamrudee International School (RIS) hosted a “Water of Life” fashion show fundraiser featuring designs by Filipina designer Ms. Len Nepomuceno Mortel. The funds raised will support the school’s ongoing Water and Reforestation Project, and aid villagers in Ohm Toom, located in the Mae Chaem district of northern Thailand. In October, groups of high school and middle school students made trips to Mae Chaem to build dykes and plant trees to help reforest the area.

For three high school students, the fashion show was part of their IB Diploma Programme CAS project. Vint Thamnukasetchai, Book Chunekamrai and Brux Pongprapapant had visited Mae Chaem earlier in the year to survey the village of Ohm Toom. One of the primary concerns in the village is its lack of water supply. To get fresh water, villagers collect rainwater from the roofs of their houses, but not every house has a water tank. The community water tank is meant to hold a supply of water to share among the villagers, but as it doesn’t rain year-round in Thailand, the water doesn’t last long enough to supply the demand. Villagers must walk two kilometers each day to collect freshwater. In conjunction with other RIS fundraisers, the proceeds from the fashion show will be used to build a new water delivery system, complete with pumps to bring fresh water to every house in the village.

The money raised will also be used to help the villagers in other ways. The Mae Chaem district is situated high in the mountains north of Chiang Mai, but many of the houses in the village have little to no insulation. Some of the money raised will buy blankets to keep the villagers warm during the winter months.

Lastly the Baan Toong Gae school had no equipment for children to use in the outdoor area that functions as their school yard. A portion of the funds will be used to buy sports equipment for the children. Vint, Book, and Brux will return to Mae Cham during the December break; they will buy blankets, sports equipment, and other necessities for the villagers and deliver them to the people of Ohm Toom.

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The fashion show was a spectacular event, emceed by the three CAS students. It featured lively performances by RIS teachers and alumni; the thirty volunteer models included faculty, parents, students and RIS Head of School, Dr. Shalee Cunningham. All of the models wore designs generously provided by Len Nepomuceno Mortel, owner and designer of Nepomuceno Couture and BridesByLen, known throughout the Philippines and Asia for her bridal, evening wear, and designs for foreign dignitaries. Many generous sponsors contributed to the event’s success: Thai Health Insurance sponsored 70,000 baht; the parents of RIS second grader KC, K. Wanchalerm and K. Ple, sponsored the catering by Jitpochana Park & Yapan; the Satjayakorn Family kindly donated 10,000 baht; and Kids Foto Studio provided event photographers.

After tallying donations and ticket sales (and subtracting expenses for the upcoming trip to Ohm Toom), an incredible 111,000 baht was raised. In addition to the water system, sports requirement and blankets, funds will be used to help other people in the villages of Tung Kae, Sun Kanoon, and Kee Kratai, also in the Mae Chaem district. A portion will also be given to a family from the village Pa Terng, who recently had triplets that were born two months premature, and recently went home after being in the hospital for several months.

The fashion show was a huge success; it was a well-organized and entertaining evening, but also raised money to help in a very practical and deliberate way. Congratulations to all who were involved and best wishes to Vint, Book, and Brux with their visit to Ohm Toom.


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