TWNE 2017 Meeting Summary

SUMMARY  2017 Annual Meeting of the Thai Women Network in Europe (TWNE) Budapest, Hungary

(For Thai version, click here)

The meeting was organized on the 5th and 6th of May 2017 at the Aranytíz Cultural House, Arany Janos 10, Budapest, Hungary.

The title of the meeting is #Dee Toh Jai (ดีต่อใจ Good to the Heart) - Get Momentum to Empower. It was attended by 78 participants (76 women and 2 men) from 13 countries i.e., Austria (2 representatives), Belgium (7), Finland (3), France (2), Italy (9), Hungary (2), Germany (26), the Netherlands (1), Norway (13), Sweden (6), Switzerland (2), the United Kingdom (3) and Thailand (2). In addition there were 6 government officials from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security and 4 from the Royal Thai Embassy in Budapest.

The morning of the 5th May was devoted to the TWNE annual assembly in which the President, Mrs Nonglak Trepp gave an opening address. The meeting then followed the established agenda by first certifying the minute of the 2016 meeting as well as the financial report and cashbook. Results of TWNE work in the previous year have been presented in the Sarn Satree Magazine. New organization partners were introduced including the Thai Village Foundation (Hungary), the Raks Thai Club in Germany and the Thai Women Network in the United Kingdom (the UK). The meeting was informed about the progress and plans for TWNE facebook page and website. Names and coordinators in different countries were presented. There was time for questions and answers which focused on how to organize non-formal education and more educational activities abroad. Finally, the meeting voted for the next country where the 2018 meeting would be convened: It will be in Hamburg, Germany.

The training and learning part of the meeting was in the afternoons of the 5th and 6th of May. Dr Dusit Likkanapichitkul from the Department of Mental Health was the resource person. He delivered talks on diverse topics related to how to take care of mental well being of volunteers (Jit Ar-sa) abroad. The session was a combination of theoretical talks, case studies, checklists, step-by-step demonstrations, experience sharing and questions and answers. Among the training topics were knowledge about mental illnesses such as stress, anxiety and burn-out as well as tips and techniques for self care and how to avoid stress in a role of volunteers. Participants much appreciated the training. They were enthusiastic and raised many questions both during and after the training sessions.

The morning of the 6th of May was an address given by his Excellency the Ambassador Mr. Chakkrit Seewalee and presentations by the Minister Councellor Mr. Tor Sornlump and the Consul Mr. Siwaphon Chalermchuang. The Ambassador mentioned the general framework of the embassy while the Consult presented work of the consular section and assistance provided to Thai people encountering problems in Hungary, which included some case studies.

What followed was a series of presentations by the team from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. The delegation team was led by Pol. General Suwat Chanitthikul, Assistant to the Minister. The presentations covered policies and outcomes of social work of the current government. The ministry is responsible for Thai citizens of all age groups and it deploys many interventions in order to reach the poor and the marginalized groups in the Thai society. The delegation presented the Ministry’s achievements in 2017 including academic work, measures and mechanisms and assistance provided to local Thai people. With regards to support to Thai women abroad, the government policy is to promote affection, unity, mutual support as well as establishment of Thai charitable organizations overseas. The ministry has created a website yingthai.net, Application Yingthai, Facebook: Yingthai / Yingthainet, LINE and helpline number +66 99 130 1300. Currently, 23 charitable organizations in 9 countries have been certified by the ministry.

Thanks to the efforts in preventing trafficking in human beings, Thailand has been lifted from Tier 3 to Tier 2 among the Watch-list in the United States’ TIP Report. Human trafficking is considered a National Agenda with the Prime Minister as president of the Agenda. All concerned agencies have been mobilized and have joined in this collaboration. There are five sub-committees. Law and regulations have been reformed in order to better deal with the situations. Law enforcement has been intensified especially with offenders and in cases where corrupted officials are involved. Protection is provided to both Thai and non-Thai victims without discrimination. Measures are taken to prevent groups at risk from becoming victims. Law and orders have been enforced on entertainment establishments and production units and campaigns have been launch to prevent and suppress beggar criminal rings.

In the afternoon of the 6th of May, participants were divided into three groups. The first workshop was titled Dee Tor Jai – creating positive energy in the social media world and was led by Dr Dusit Likkanapichitkul. The second group was called Flowers are for you but my flowers are for whom? – How to take care of each other.  It was facilitated by Mrs. Prapairat Mix. The last topic was titled You decided to come – what will you do in case of problems, and was guided by Mrs Sermsee Boonsoot. Participants in three groups work actively together and were able to present their findings clearly to the plenary. The first group presented benefits, shortfalls and how to use social media. The second group shared ideas on how volunteers can take care of their mental well beings and of others, basing their suggestions from what they learnt from resource persons and other participants. The last group presented problems and causes of Thai women moving for better lives overseas and how to solve problems faced by these women.

The TWNE annual meeting, its training and information sharing sessions and its workshops have been well organized. Objectives have been fulfilled. All meeting topics were covered. Participants have gained knowledge beneficial to their work as social volunteers. Experience has been exchanged and good will generated among Thai women from different European countries. This fits very well with the meeting theme Dee Toh Jai (Good for the Heart).

TWNE would like to thank Thai Town Foundation (มูลนิธิหมู่บ้านไทย or Thai Város Alapítvány), the organizer of the event. Equally, it thanks the delegations of the Royal Thai Embassy in Budapest and the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security for its financial and technical support.

Lastly, thanks are extended to all TWNE members who presented in the meeting and who have provided continued support to TWNE.

Summarized by

Chongcharoen Sornkaew