Member of the Month – Asia Center Foundation

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Working on the beautiful island of Phuket, Thailand for over a decade, Asia Center Foundation programs reach out to disadvantaged and children-at-risk with education, healthcare and sport opportunities to create hope for their futures. Increasing drug related problems, gangs, and pornography afflict primary age students throughout Phuket and to address these problems the ACF formed a partnership with Strategic Sports (Phuket Vagabonds Rugby) to provide young kids with more healthy options with which to spend their free time. The Youth Rugby Development program was started for children between ages 8 -18 with goals of developing leadership qualities and rugby skills in disadvantaged children and to provide emotional support to encourage them to continue their education. In 2008 the IRB recognized ACF Director, Roelien Muller, and the organizer of Phuket Rugby 10s, Patrick Cotter, for their vision and efforts to use ‪#‎rugby4good‬ and presented them with the Spirit of Rugby Award.

ACF Youth Rugby Development Programs exist not only to teach disadvantaged children rugby skills or to encouraging kids to stay in school. They also strive to provide (with the help of sponsors) the benefits and experiences that opportunities to travel overseas can provide. International travel has given their players a first hand look at the cultures of other nations which they hope will expand their kids worldview dreams for their future. Last month ACF launched its first cultural and charity exchange program with the Joondalup Brothers RFC. Arriving from Perth Australia, the boys stayed in the homes of many Phuket players for the week’s program which included games of both 15s and 10s, a sailing and dragon boating competition, as well as elephant rides, and a visit with Muay Thai trainers who taught them the basics about Muay Thai kickboxing. It has been the ACF’s goal to connect with schools from other countries in order to raise awareness about the situations Thai and Burmese children face daily and the Joondalup boys got a first hand look at the conditions at a Daycare Center as they volunteered for a day, fortifying a fence and removing a fallen tree.

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In the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami, many children in Phuket were left without essential needs – clothing, food and clean water, safe shelter. ACF, in partnership with Strategic Sports, responds to these needs and works to improve the lives of Phuket children and offer them opportunities to expand their worldview. In 2011 four rugby teams of underprivileged children from around the world, including 10 players from ACF,  got a unique  opportunity to spend a week in Manchester to play in a 10s rugby tournament  and be hosted by the families of local children attending four of the city’s academies. The Wright Robinson Sports  College teamed up with the ACF Phuket Lomas. The rugby festival was made  possible by another GRC member, touraid, which establishes sustainable relationships between schools and clubs in  the UK with similar #rugby4good organizations around the globe that support disadvantaged children and  uses rugby as the catalyst for these partnerships and a conduit for the resulting educational,  cultural and social benefits that develop between the visiting children and their hosts.

We would like to thank our Member of the Month for August , ACF for their work with disadvantaged children in Phuket, Thailand. Last year they celebrated 10 years of charity work on the island, a milestone they could not have reached without their dedicated staff, volunteers, and donors. To recognize some of these individuals ACF introduced the Ambassador of Hope Award for those who have initiated an individual effort to raise funds for ACF’s work and who have maintained this effort for a sustained period of time. Since introducing this honor the ACF has awarded 6 Ambassadors of Hope, including Pat Cotter and Strategic Sports who transformed Phuket International Tens into a vehicle for #rugby4good to raise funds for ACF’s scholarship program.

To get involved with Asia Center Foundation as a volunteer or donor please visit their website or contact Roelien Muller (roemuthai@gmail.com).

 

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