Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
We went to Chaing Rai for our first field study from the 5th to 10th of July. On Wednesday at around 12 noon, our van went up and down the beautiful mountains and valleys of Doi Tung. We all were longing to hear the story behind the beautiful and productive Doi Tung development model. More specifically I was eager to learn the secret behind the success of Doi Tung by the Princess Mother, who first started her work there at the age of 80 and resolved reforest the opium covered mountains. Her identification of the root causes of reliance on opium as the main economic activity was poverty and lack of opportunity. I was deeply impressed by her decision to improve the living conditions of communities on this massive mountain socially, economically, and environmentally. Her demonstration of commitment by building her home in Doi Tung, her love for flowering gardens, weaving, and molding ceramics made her to combine the skills and passion of the people of Doi Tung for future generations even after she was gone.
Her philosophy of cultivating people, cultivating nature, returning trees to forests, returning water to streams, and returning dignity to people made her an icon to the present generations. Indeed she left a legacy in Doi Tung. Her journey and resolve to rehabilitate Doi Tung is memorialized in the chronological drawings and writing as we walked up and down of the Hall of Inspiration, showing the transformation of opium farmers to coffee and macadamia farmers. As I went through the activities of the Princess Mother and her eventual conversion of the opium fields, raising the livelihoods of communities around the mountain, and the building of her reputation and respect, I was challenged to live a legacy. Change has to begin with me. As the great father of India said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Mediatrix Shikoli, Kenya
Rotary Peace Fellow
June 2015 Session