We’d been planning this night for a month. The efforts of volunteers from Help Without Frontiers and Colabora Birmania all came down to one night at ExPPACT Bar. Saturday night was the Help for 42 fundraiser, our grand effort to raise money for the students from 42 kilometre school who were injured in the horrific bus crash on March 11, 2013.
In the weeks leading up to the event, I can safely say Flo, Julia and I visited almost every business in Mae Sot, collecting donations of cash and raffle prizes. The efforts paid off as people at the event said they were blown away by the number of prizes we gave away; lap top/iPad bags, kids-size motorbike helmets (or petite adults with child-sized heads, cough, Nicola) a hot pink toaster, fans, coffee an art piece from Picture Book guest house and gift certificates from Krua Canadian, Mr. Thak laundry, Mestizo and the British Pie shop (both of which went to Brits!) The piece de resistance was the shiny red bike, which was won by Rebeca, our resident tango dancer.
The six hours before the fundraiser was the definition of organized chaos. When the food arrived, we realized our vegetarian option had meat in it. Julia and Isi and Isi’s Burmese friend who just happens to be a chef, went shopping in the market for veggies and used the Mestizo kitchen to whip up some amazing vegetable stir fries.
Meanwhile, at ExPPACT, we were hanging lights (Flo and Marcus managed to bring a dead string back to life) Help Without Frontiers staff were setting up tables and chairs, Nay Chilin, Isi and our music project students brought in a full band kit and were doing sound checks and Javier was turning the inside room into a gallery for the stunning photography donated by photographers Jag Sandhu of Bodhi Technique and Renata Laszczak, who took photos of the students from 42 kilometre school. By 6 p.m., the venue was already buzzing with teachers and students from 42 kilometre school, our music project students and other live acts and volunteers. By 7 p.m., people were streaming in fashionably late and by 8 p.m. it’s safe to say more than 100 people had filled the bar. Chaung Khu, radiant and smiling as always, was our food ticket and raffle ticket seller, and judging by the fact that we were almost completely sold out of raffle tickets by the draw at 10 p.m., she did a fantastic job.
As everyone knows, I’m not a shy person, so I was tasked with the role of MC. After a brief update on the condition of the kids — one boy, Si Thu Aung is still in hospital
We watched some interviews from two of the kids involved in the crash and heard from the grandmother of Si Thu Aung and Nuay Nuay Hlai. We also took a moment to remember, Taw Mea Aung, the three month old baby who died in the crash.
The night was full of great entertainment. The Help Without Frontiers music students performed their new music video, Traffic Rules, and their song, Daily Life. Rebeca and her partner danced a sultry tango and Lara and other teachers from 42 kilometre school performed a song which had the audience singing and clapping along. Nay Chilin, her husband and their friends also put on some amazing musical acts. After live music, Jimmy, an English teacher from Youth Connect and former London DJ, Jimmy, set the tone by spinning some upbeat tracks.
All the while, Marcus and Flo manned the bars and ensured guests were hydrated with the Burma Libre (50 per cent of the drink sales went to our cause), beer and cocktails (10 per cent of total sales also went to the cause – thank you Marcus!)
The live and silent auctions were eventful and everyone went home with the piece they were eying – Lara had her heart set on Heart, a stunning portrait taken by Renata Laszczak of one of Lara’s students. Julia snagged the powerful Monk and Child photo by Jag Sandhu, a London-based photographer who runs Bodhi Technique and Chris took home the most coveted photo of the evening, Birds over Bagan by Jag Sandhu.
At the initial tally, we had raised more than 26,000 Baht and that’s not including the bar sales. Thank you to everyone who made this night a success. Your generosity will make a big difference to the injured children who are recovering from the crash.