But many of his clients might not know that Sam also volunteers a lot of his time to advise a variety of nonprofit community groups on managing and regulating their foundations.
During my recent visit to Sam’s office in Phuket Town, I found him having a health drink while working away on his computer to help organise a fundraiser for one of the many charities he assists. He is also board member on numerous local foundations that support disadvantaged children in Phuket.
“Currently, we are focused on how to keep the Life Home Project (LHP) functioning. LHP was set up in 2002 when we were made aware that a great number of both women and children who were infected with HIV had been rejected by their families, who were afraid of the virus. We were able to rent a building in town where these women and children could find shelter,” Sam says.
“With community fundraising, we were able to feed and house these women and eventually build a residential community on Koh Siray. Much of that financial support came from big fundraising events on Phuket and some in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, but now we find this international funding is declining and more focused on HIV in Africa.”
As a board member for the Life Home Project, Sam works to ensure that the residents continue to receive their medications and a place to live.
“We have had a lot of community support over the past 15 years but the issue is always the ongoing operational support. The women raise money by making craft items that they can sell around the island, but this mostly just provides them with funds to take care of their personal family needs.
“I arrived to Phuket in 1989 to establish a business that did not develop as I had hoped, so I opened a business centre at the Patong Language School. I soon developed a fluency in Thai and the Patong police would often ask for my help dealing with Western visitors’ problems.
"There were many social issues back then with street kids, many from other countries, begging or selling themselves to tourists for sex. That’s when Child Watch Phuket was created by Dr Supaluck Kanchanamethakul. I felt compelled to help stop the paedophilia that was common on the island.”
Starting in the 1990s, Sam worked with Child Watch Phuket to advise and set up an expanding group of programs which now include a safe house opened in 1995 with financial support from the Japanese Embassy. This facility helps the growing number of slum children, who lacking birth documents or house registrations, cannot enter school to get their education. This shelter is maintained at an undisclosed location as a refuge for these children 24 hours a day – many of whom need protection from abuse as well as emergency help and ongoing rehabilitation.
In 1996, Sam again threw his hat in the ring to help set up another childcare facility adjacent to the Phuket Provincial Prison in Phuket Town.
“Word of the work Child Watch Phuket was doing had reached the local authorities and they asked us to provide day care services for the children of inmates, who were normally jailed along with their mothers. Lions Club of Phuket Pearl donated B20,000 to create Uncle Pitak’s House in a building adjacent to the prison, where the young children could receive an education and have some healthy social interaction during the day before being returned to their mothers in prison for the night.”
By the early 2000s, the number of programs to help abandoned or abused children continued to grow and once again Sam offered his services to ensure that these projects were in compliance with government regulations.
“I became more focused on those affected by HIV, as by 2002 there were neither government programs nor anti-retroviral drugs to help those infected. Fortunately, today the government provides good medication for those affected.”
Sam was President of the Rotary Club of Patong Beach in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, and, with the substantial help of club members and international donations, they were able to rebuild a destroyed fishing village north of Phuket.
Sam also helped set up the organisational structure for Holland House with funds donated by the Amsterdam Chamber of Commerce in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami. Holland House was opened to support children whose families were affected by the tsunami disaster and remains in operation until this day.
Also in the aftermath of the tsunami, Sam helped set up Phuket Sunshine Village which currently provides shelter, food, medical care and education for 100 local children who can not live with their families due to abuse or poverty.
With the support of Lions Club Of Phuket Andaman Sea and Child Watch Phuket, Frank Couture, a Phuket based businessman, was successful in convincing the French Red Cross to donate 1.5 million euros for the construction of the Phuket Sunshine Village residential child care centre.
“All of these projects are worthwhile and deserve community support. The demand for services for local children and families continues to grow with the increase in low paid workers and the ongoing construction boom,” says Sam.
If you or your organization would like to contribute to any of these worthy and notable foundations, or for more information, please contact Sam by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org