The Thai Government has donated US$10,000 to the Mustard Seed Communities, which will go towards the welfare of children with HIV/AIDS, and repair buildings at Sophie's Place, which were damaged by Tropical Storm Gustav last year.
Thailand's Ambassador to Jamaica, Snanchart Devahastin, yesterday (Jan. 29) handed over the cheque to Father Gregory Ramkissoon, Executive Director and founder of the Mustard Seed Communities, during a ceremony held at the charity's headquarters in Kingston. The funds represent proceeds from a dinner held in Kingston last June to culminate the week-long Thai Festival.
Ambassador Devahastin, in making the presentation, said that the donation is in keeping with efforts by the Thai Government to foster closer relations with other developing countries, such as Jamaica.
The non-resident Ambassador said that during his two previous visits to Jamaica, he was particularly moved by the plight of children living with HIV/AIDS at the Mustard Seed homes, and pledged to help them.
"I am happy that finally, our Government approved US$10,000 for providing assistance to Jamaica...we hope that our small sum can help improve the lives of the children," he said.
Thailand has had much success in combating HIV/AIDS, with the Government in 2001, implementing a comprehensive prevention programme, which resulted in a reduction in new cases from 143,000 in 1999 to 19,000 in 2003.
Noting that this would not be his last trip to Jamaica, Ambassador Devahastin stated that: "I would like to visit by myself to see what we can do in the future."
The Thai Ambassador, who is in the island for Diplomatic Week, toured the Mustard Seed facility after the presentation ceremony.
Father Ramkissoon, in thanking the Ambassador for the donation, said that the money "came in at a good time, and it came very quickly also. We really want to thank you very much and hope that you will continue your partnership with us."
The Mustard Seed Communities is a faith-based non-profit organisation based in Kingston. The charity, which was founded in 1978, provides assistance for mentally and physically disabled children, homeless teenage mothers, abandoned or orphaned children, and those living with HIV/AIDS.
It provides caring, sharing and training for children, youth and adults in communities throughout the Caribbean, Central America, and Africa, with more than 20 outreach programmes.
Sophie's Place, located in Gordon Town, St. Andrew, caters to children with severe disabilities.
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