Saturday, September 12, 2009

Results of the DAT National Elections -- September 10, 2009

Here are the results of the DAT elections, held at the FCCT on September 10, 2009. Very big thanks and appreciation are extended to DAT members Don Linder, Fred Burian, and Barent Springstead who served as the Votes and Elections Committee -- they all worked very hard throughout the night to produce a fair and timely result that could be announced at the meeting. Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all that put their hats in the ring to lead DAT for the coming two years.

The new officers are: Peter du Pont (Chair), Elizabeth Boname (1st Vice Chair), Peter Fischbach (Vice-Chair), Jennifer Erickson (Vice Chair), Rick Graves (Secretary) and Pamela Hongsakul (Treasurer)

It will be a pleasure working with you all -- Philip S. Robertson, Jr. --former DAT Chair (2005-2009)

10 September 2009

Candidate Proxy Votes/On-Site Votes/Total Votes

Lola Rainey 27/23/ 50
Peter du Pont 45/36/ 81

Austin Arensberg 28/26/ 54
Jeffrey Watchtel 6/3/ 9
Mike Carroll 14/22/ 36
Elizabeth Boname 38/38/ 76
Jennifer Erickson 32/32/ 64
Peter Fischbach 34/41/ 75

Rick Graves 52/44/ 96

Ed Knuth 0/20/ 20
Pamela Hongsakul 0/26/ 26
Lola Rainey (write-in) 0/2/ 2
Jennifer Erickson (write-in) 0/2/ 2
Mike Carroll (write-in) 0/1/ 1

Submitted by Don Linder, member of Votes and Elections Committee and out-going DAT Vice-Chair

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Agenda for DAT Annual General Mtg and Bangkok Chapter Meeting

The DAT will be holding its annual general meeting at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) on September 10, 2009 from 6 to 10 p.m. The FCCT is in the penthouse floor of the Maneeya Plaza Building (see map at The agenda of the meeting is below. All Americans residing in Thailand are welcome to attend, and if you are not yet a DAT member, you can join at the meeting.

Annual General Meeting 2009
Democrats Abroad Thailand (DAT)
Democrats Abroad Thailand – Bangkok Chapter
September 10, 2009
Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT)

Democrats Abroad Thailand (DAT) National Meeting

6:00 – 6:30 Registration

6:30 – 6:40 Call to Order and Welcome
Philip S. Robertson Jr., Chair

6:40 – 6:50 Review and Approval of the 2008 Minutes

6:50 – 7:00 Treasurers Report

7:00 -- 7:20 Candidate Statements to the Membership

7:20 – 7:30 Elections for DAT Executive Committee

7:30 – 8:00 Discussion and membership vote on Proposed Amendments to DAT bylaws

8:00 – 8:20 Discussion of 2008 Activities and Future Activities

8:20 – 8:30 Announcement of Election Results for DAT Executive Committee

8:30 Closing/Adjourn DAT National Meeting

Democrats Abroad Thailand – Bangkok Chapter

8:30 – 8:40 Welcome/Overview of the DA Bangkok Chapter Organizing Efforts and Chapter Strategy of DAT

8:40 – 9:00 Candidate Statements to the Membership

9:00 – 9:15 Elections

9:15 – 9:30 Discussions of Future Activities by DA Bangkok

9:30 – 9:40 Announcement of Election Results for DAT Bangkok Chapter Officers

9:40 – 9:45 Closing

Biographies of candidates for election to national DAT Executive Committee

Bios of Candidates for Office -- DAT Executive Committee

Lola Clayton-Rainey

Lola Rainey is a relative newcomer to Thailand. She's still learning her way around Bangkok, a bustling city of 14 million people, which means she brings a “fresh pair of eyes” to some of the longstanding problems facing American expatriates living abroad. Last year, she had the good fortune to attend the Democrats Abroad (DA) Regional Meeting in Phnom Penh. The DA Asia Region has a very talented and dedicated group of men and women who serve in leadership positions. Over two days, she received a crash course on the fundamentals of Dems Abroad history, organizational structure, core objectives and political platform. She left with a renewed commitment to the Democratic Party and a desire to serve the DAT. Ms. Rainey has been involved in grassroots organizations since she was a teenager. She learned about the two faces of America, one prosperous and hopeful, and the second, broken and despairing, while working in summer youth programs funded by federal anti-poverty grants in the 1970’s. She's been involved in local efforts to promote social justice in her home state of Arizona ever since. She's served on numerous boards and commissions in Arizona, including: Arizona Town Halls, the City of Tucson’s Human Relations Commission, the City of Tucson’s Women’s Commission, Tucson Children’s Museum and the Tucson Association for Childcare (TACC). She has also worked tirelessly for Democratic candidates and causes in Arizona.

Ms. Rainey is an attorney by profession. She's worked as both a prosecutor and defense attorney in the city, state, federal and tribal courts in Arizona and California. She holds a B.A. in journalism, a Juris Doctorate in law and an LLM. in International Trade Law from the University of Arizona and the University of Arizona College of Law. She is also a published children’s author.

Peter du Pont

Peter has lived in Thailand since 1989, speaks fluent Thai, and is firmly committed to promoting the interests of Americans here through engagement with the U.S. government and political process. Among the issues he sees as important are practical issues such as making it easier to vote from abroad; improving the get out the vote effort; Medicare and health care access abroad overseas citizens; favoring residence based taxation; and increasing access to government services abroad.
During the 2008 campaign, Peter worked with other DAT members to organize a fundraiser in Bangkok that raised $5,000 for the Obama presidential campaign, and also worked with DAT colleagues to organize phone banks that reached 900 of the 1,300 DAT members living in Thailand.
Peter has worked in Thailand and throughout Asia, in NGO, private-sector, and government-sector organizations to design and advise on the implementation of clean energy strategies and initiatives. He currently leads a major regional US program in Asia promoting clean energy options to improve energy security and mitigate greenhouse gases, the USAID ECO-Asia Clean Development and Climate Program.
Peter has a BA in Environmental Biology from Yale, a Masters in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Delaware.

Vice Chair

Austin Arensberg

My interest in Democrats Abroad Thailand stems from previous experience working closely on the 2004 Presidential Campaign at the University of Colorado where I coordinated campus election activities and served as my Precinct Captain for my neighborhood. Our precinct exit polls showed a 98% voting record for Kerry. On campus we registered over 8,000 students setting all-time records.

For the 2008 election in Bangkok, I helped organize two campaign fundraisers in Bangkok and helped organize with a team of DAT volunteers various events revolving around the Presidential debates at Roadhouse. I also attended the DA regional meeting in Phnom Penh in February to help with planning and coordination. Having only been involved with DAT for a bit over a year I am
inspired by fellow volunteers and excited to build last November's incredibly election. As for my professional background, I have been living in Bangkok for 4 years and currently work at a renewable energy investment fund.

Elizabeth Gray Boname

Elizabeth has served as First Vice-Chair of Democrats Abroad Thailand for the past two years. Prior to moving to Bangkok, she was active in Democrats Abroad Bosnia and Herzegovina, where her husband Andy served as Country Chair from 2004-2006 and they lived for seven years. Elizabeth has also been involved in other community and volunteer organizations, serving on the board of the International Women’s Club of Sarajevo, as well as publishing a cookbook with her best friend, the proceeds of which ($4000 USD+) were earmarked for victims of human trafficking.
Elizabeth is a former journalist who worked as a broadcast news reporter, and was subsequently employed as a police department spokesperson and then as a court’s public information/special projects officer. Most recently, she has worked as a freelance writer.
Besides being a political news junkie, Elizabeth is an avid Bridge player, loves to cook and entertain, and enjoys non-fiction books. She and Andy have two children, Lauren (10) and Nick (5).

Mike Carroll (William Michael Carroll)

Statement of Policy: 1) Promoting Regional Expansion - If elected, I will give voice to the future of Democrats Abroad Thailand, the Northeast / Isaan and Laos chapter “in formation”. In fact, as Thai NGOs do, it is more practical to organize a northern Isaan/Laos chapter and a southern Isaan chapter based more around members in Khon Kaen/Ubon/Korat. Northern Isaan would mainly encompass Nongkhai and Udorn. The Isaan/Laos chapter in formation has continued as such due to some lethargy in organizing Democrats in this area spread over a wide geographic area with many members coming from retirees in Isaan and a younger base of development and business people in Laos. Neither group is readily able to meet often together but we should promote on line, “virtual encounters” for Democrats and more public policy advocacy to attract and retain members. Phil Robertson has worked tirelessly on our behalf but his and our dedication is not in itself sufficient. We need new ways to organize, advocate, and involve our membership. DAT Arms should be take place outside of Bangkok and/or on line. We need to use better technology. Indeed this election should be conducted online or by email.
2) Public Policy Advocacy – I run on a platform committed to strongly advocating on US and Democratic Policies, which effect Americans living abroad in Thailand and nearby. DAT needs to move from a “organizational centric” inward looking organization to one that advocates strongly and publicly, in the Democratic Party, with the Congress, with the Obama Administration, and at the state and local government levels for our interests. And our interests include the advocacy goals of many NGOs, businesses and the private sector. We should build more alliances with other Americans Abroad organization in advocacy. For example, there should be a strong DA push to include American abroad in any health care/insurance reform efforts in the US. Medicare abroad should cover older citizens and younger Americans should be covered by health and accident insurance, wherever we live. Private insurers are global, why not USG policies? We also reform for the citizenship rights of Americans abroad.
3) Rallying Visiting U.S. Members of Congress/staff to Meet with Democrats Abroad – We need to increase our contacts and outreach with Congressional visits to Thailand and the region to give our members access to Democratic office holders and “make our voice hear!” The Democrats Abroad group in Laos recently was able to meet briefly with Senator Jim Webb of VA on a visit to Vientiane, through dogged local efforts. We appreciated the support and eventual contacts from Democrats Abroad in DC and the International Chair but it is clear that the organization is not savvy or geared up to put visiting members of Congress / staff in touch with Democrats Abroad. “Door Knocks” with the Congress and Administration advocating for our issues should be done worldwide, 365 days a year, all the time, not just a few days a year in DC.
U.S. Birthplace/Residence: Born/raised in Peoria, Illinois, now resident of Sacramento, CA.
Address: 14/4 Soi 8, Phaholyothin Road, Bangkok (apartment)
Work address: Program Manager, Law Enforcement and Narcotics Section, US Embassy, LPDR
Resident or/rental address in Thailand: 1975-2009 (worked in Cambodia, China, and Laos)
Background: Peace Corps Thailand, 1975-77, NGO development worker 1977-1991.
Profession: BA and MA (political science), MBA, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.
Founding committee/group, DAT, 1985, Bangkok. Registered DAT as country committee.
Chair, DAT, 1986-90, D.A. Asia, DNC Member, 1992-94, Delegate Dem National Conv, 1992.
DA International Meetings: Paris, Athens, New York, Washington, Singapore, Hong Kong.
Career: international development, mainly with NGOs, since 2003, U.S. State Department.
Philosophy: “Look outward not inward, open, inclusive, participatory, think out of the box!”

Jennifer Haluptzok Erickson

My roots in the Democratic Party go back to interning for then-Congressman and now-Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota. I actively campaigned for Tim Johnson and Clinton/Gore in the 1996 elections. I was privileged to serve in the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Vice President as a White House Intern. Following my internship, I continued to work with former Vice President Al Gore and his staff on public policy initiatives in education.
In the years following my graduation from college, I served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, attended law school on a full tuition scholarship, became a lawyer in Wisconsin and Texas, litigated federal cases ranging from intellectual property to bankruptcy, and moved to Thailand with my husband.
In Thailand, I serve as the Co-Chair of the Community Projects Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand and am a member of the Advisory Task Force for Junior Achievement – Thailand. I also assist expatriates with legal matters as a Senior Advisor with Siam Legal and have represented (pro bono) persons seeking refugee status before the UNHCR.

Peter Fischbach

Originally from New York City, I am a lifelong liberal Democrat, and have been an active member of Democrats Abroad Thailand for 18 years, including three previous terms as Vice Chair. When I first joined Democrats Abroad in 1991, DA Thailand was a small but active group of US citizens who appreciated the importance of keeping in touch with US politics and of providing an avenue for other like-minded people to do the same. Then, as now, one of our primary functions was to help facilitate voter registration, and I have been actively involved in that effort ever since, organizing registration tables at the annual US Independence Day picnics and various American Chamber of Commerce events and, together with many other dedicated volunteers, helping literally hundreds of US voters throughout Thailand, one-on-one, with their individual problems in obtaining and using absentee ballots. I am standing for re-election to the DAT Executive Committee because I am willing to continue contributing significant time and energy to those efforts.
In addition to voter assistance, I have participated over the years in most of the activities typical to maintaining an organization’s well-being: drafting by-laws, discussing strategy, planning events, building membership, raising funds, writing newsletters, etc. In 2007-2008, I took an active role as part of the Democrats Abroad Global IT Team, helping to coordinate the complete overhaul of the organization’s IT systems for use by all DA country committees worldwide. Following the unexpected departure of a vendor, I became the de facto global “project manager” for this effort, organizing the activities of volunteers around the world during the two months leading up to the 2008 Global Primary. By helping ensure that the Democrats Abroad database and systems conversion were successful, we were able to run the Global Primary without incident, not only enfranchising tens of thousands of new Democratic voters, but helping to more than double Democrats Abroad membership. I continue to be involved with the global IT Team in an advisory role.
My wife and I live with our two children in Bangkok, and I run a small but successful company here providing IT recruitment services. I am active in the local business community, and have served on the Board of Governors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand, and also as chairman of the Chamber’s IT committee. Not being the quiet sort, my progressive politics are by now well known to most in the American community here! I look forward to the continued opportunity to serve Democrats Abroad.

Jeffrey M. Wachtel, Ph. D.

As reported in The Nation the day after Super Tuesday (February 6, 2009) …”Dr. Wachtel a leadership advisor is from Florida and has lived in Thailand since 2001. He met and almost found himself working for George W. Bush, Jr. before he was elected president.” Starting out as an intern for his Congressman, he ran several campaigns in New York. From 1994 to the year 2000, Dr. Wachtel was an informal strategy and leadership speech advisor to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, United States of America and was named to Who's Who in America, Year 2000 Millennium Edition.
Admittedly a “Blue Dog” Democrat with some leanings across the aisle to liberal republicans, Jeff worked on the Marketing Committee of DA Thailand. In the words of the Vice-Chair he served as her “wing man,” by customizing DA’s advertising and placing the advertisements in Pattaya and Chiang Mai newspapers.
Dr. Wachtel holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts, Political Science from SUNY Cortland, an M.A. in Political Science, IR and Comparative Government from SUNY Albany, an M.S. in Hotel, & Food Service Management from Florida International University and a Ph.D. in Business Administration Organizational Behavior & Strategic Management with a related field in Marketing from Georgia State University. He is the father of a six month old son Dylan and enjoys playing with his son, jogging and going to movies. He is currently working on his first novel.


Richard E. Graves

Rick has served DAT as secretary from 2007 to the present. Rick is an attorney (licensed to practice in Washington State), but he has not actually practiced law since the early 1980's. His official status in Thailand is retired. His main careers were in medical software and manufacturing (Rick and his wife, Sharon, have a factory in China, and Rick helps part time). Rick earned a BS in Physics from MIT and a JD from Columbia Law School. Rick and Sharon have a son, William, who is now 17 months old and is being raised as a Democrat.


No candidate, write-ins accepted under rules to be explained at meeting.

Biographies of candidates for election to Bangkok chapter positions

Bios of Candidates for Office -- DAT Bangkok Chapter
Al Caudullo

While Obama’s victory is still fresh on our minds, we must remain vigilant so as not to lose the ground that we, as Democrats, have gained. We must search for ways to enthuse, inform, and invigorate our membership. This is how we can grow our influence and reverse the devastation of 8 years of disastrous Republican rule.
My name is Al Caudullo. As an expat in Thailand for 8 years, I have enjoyed a wonderful immersion into Thai society. I have a Thai wife and three beautiful children – ages 9, 4, and 3. I brought with me 30 years of entrepreneurial business experience. My successful business in the U.S. enabled me to work for an extremely varied list of clients. From Microsoft to Sony Pictures, from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to the Academy Awards in Hollywood, to name a few. Since moving to Thailand, I have built a thriving video production company doing projects for a range of U.S. and Thai clients , such as National Geographic, CBS’s 60 Minutes, Central Air Thailand and even the Pottery Barn Kids.
I am a member of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand.
And to give back to the community I have begun teaching Film Production at Mahidol University. I have a successful TV show in syndication airing all across the U.S., Europe, Russia and Australia.
Since establishing myself in Bangkok a year ago, I have been happily getting involved in the Obama campaign and election, and was privileged to attend the U.S. Embassy Election Party. As a founding member of Democrats Abroad, Bangkok Chapter, I have already set up our own website and have many ideas and events to help keep our members informed on news and events going on in Bangkok. I will try to maintain and grow our ranks so that when the next election comes, our party will continue to thrive.
As you already know, Bangkok is a diverse and wide spread community of expats. Through our new website we will keep our members informed and create an interactive Democratic Community. I look forward to serving you.

Vice Chair
Jenn Kovolski

Jenn is a political junkie and an enthusiastic Democrat. A resident of northern Virginia, she's been living in Bangkok for a year. She has been working in international development and community mobilization for over ten years, with a focus on women's empowerment. She also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco. Jenn currently works on a USAID-funded regional environment project. She has a M.A. in Sustainable International Development from the Heller School at Brandeis University. She is married to a Red Sox fan. Jenn is one of the founders of the DAT - Bangkok chapter and is excited to help it grow into a vibrant and active community.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Instructions for Voting in the DAT Election -- September 10 2009

Many of you know that during the 2008 election year, the size of the DAT membership tripled! This is a huge success, but it also imposes a new challenge as we prepare for our bi-annual elections. Our by-laws require 5% of the membership to either participate in person or by proxy. Your vote and proxy are important both for determining future leadership of DAT AND ensuring that enough members are represented that the meeting is held and counts under our by-laws! Your proxy will be used for the business portion of the meeting (consideration of revised bylaws); but everyone must please vote the candidates of your choice on the ballot portion of the form linked here.

If you are unable to attend the Sept. 10 general meeting of Dems Abroad Thailand, please print and complete the proxy/ballot form. Sign and date the form; you must also include a copy of photo ID for purposes of verifying your signature. You may transmit the ballot by one of the following means:

* fax the form and copy of ID to (02) 2295560 by no later than 4:30 p.m., Sept. 10, OR
* scan the form and copy of ID and send as an email attachment to (cc by 6 p.m. Sept. 10)
* hand carried by another member (If you take this alternative and your form does not reach the Vote Counting Committee for any reason, your vote will not be counted)
* Note: all times are Bangkok time.

If you are able to attend the Sept. 10 meeting, you may vote in advance following the above instructions. For those who are planning to attend the meeting, there will be voting at the meeting. Please bring a photo ID (of any sort) with you.

Bangkok and nearby province residents: Please complete a separate proxy/ballot form to vote in the inception meeting of the Bangkok chapter! Instructions are the same as those for the DA Thailand proxy/ballot.

Please RSVP if you will attend by sending an email to, indicating whether you plan to purchase the FCCT buffet dinner @ 500 Baht payable to the FCCT.

For more information on the election, the candidates and a copy of the current and proposed DAT bylaws, visit the DAT page on the web .

Thanks for your interest in this election meeting, and your support of Dems Abroad. We look forward to seeing you Sept. 10--please arrive no later than 6 p.m. to facilitate registration and a prompt opening of the meeting.

I look forward to seeing you on September 10, at the FCCT.

With best wishes,

Phil Robertson

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Call for Nominations -- Elections and Annual General Meeting of DAT

DAT will be holding its annual general meeting on Thursday, September 10, 2009 from 6:00 PM onwards at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT). This is an important meeting since all positions on the national executive committee of DAT will be up for election. Therefore, pursuant to Section 6.2.1 of the DAT by-laws, I hereby call for nominations for the positions of Chair, Vice-Chair (3 positions available), Secretary, and Treasurer. DAT members can either nominate themselves, or nominate other DAT members. Nominations must be done in writing by email to Rick Graves, the DAT Secretary, at gravesricharde "at" and with a copy to Phil Robertson at DemocratsAbroadThailand "at" Nominations must be received no later than close of business on August 25, 2009.

Democrats Abroad Thailand is also very proud to announce the organizing of its Bangkok Chapter. This chapter has been organized by a group of members based in the Bangkok area, and has been accepted as a chapter by the DAT Executive Committee. The first meeting of the DAT Bangkok Chapter will occur back to back with the DAT annual general meeting. There will be an election for the positions of the DAT Bangkok Chapter on the same night (September 10, 2009) at the FCCT. Therefore, we are calling for nominations for persons interested in the following positions – DAT Bangkok Chapter Chair, Vice-Chair, Chapter Secretary, and Chapter Treasurer. Nominations should be sent to Richard Graves, the DAT Secretary, at rick_graves "at" with a copy to Phil Robertson at DemocratsAbroadThailand "at" The deadline for nominations to be made for the Bangkok Chapter positions is close of business on August 25, 2009.

The FCCT is an easy walk from the Chit Lom Skytrain Station, and there is a map and other info on the FCCT web site here.

Finally, on a personal note, let me add that after two terms as Chair of DAT, I will stepping down from my position because I am term-limited, in accordance with the international rules set by Democrats Abroad. I look forward to working closely with whoever is elected to replace me and working with you all to make sure these two important elections go off smoothly.

With best wishes,

Phil Robertson
Chair -- Democrats Abroad Thailand (DAT)
email: democratsabroadthailand "at"
mobile phone: (66-85) 060-8406
fax: (66-2) 672-0592
skype: philrobertsonjr

Saturday, January 31, 2009

DAT Celebrates Obama Inauguration with a HUGE crowd at the Roadhouse

Democrats Abroad Thailand invited members, friends and colleagues from America and around the world to join the historic celebrations of the Inauguration of President Obama and Vice-President Biden. Some 900 people came through the doors at the Roadhouse at some point in the evening (according to Chef Dana) and the restaurant ran out of glasses at one point - attesting to the thirst for drink AND celebratory excitement that overwhelmed all those who assembled. The third floor of the Roadhouse, with monitors blaring, no doubt started to resemble the packed atmosphere of the Mall in Washington -- except that we were spared the freezing temperatures! All the Thai-English Obama shirts were gone in a frenzy, and the special Obama Inaugural mugs were also snapped up -- though we still have a few boxes left of those, so get in touch if you are interested. But the best thing of the evening was the sense of camaraderie and common purpose, to take back our country with the best leader we could find, a truly international President -- who I am confident will make us Democrats Abroad quite proud.

Here are some photos from Lance Woodruff, DAT's long-time member, collaborator, activist and photo-documenter.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Service Outage Fixed -- New Team on Duty

Dear World:

We, the United States of America, your top quality supplier of
the ideals of liberty and democracy, would like to apologize
for our 2001-2008 interruption in service.

The technical fault that led to this eight-year service outage has
been located, and the software responsible was replaced November 4.
Early tests of the newly installed program indicate that we are now
operating correctly, and we expect it to be fully functional on
January 20.

We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the outage. We look
forward to resuming full service and hope to improve in years to come.

We thank you for your patience and understanding.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

DAT Day of Service at Pak Kred Babies Home

Thanks to Brian Thomson and many civic-minded DAT members who participated in the DAT Day of Service to collect supplies and deliver them to the Pak Kred Babies Home in Nonthaburi. You all embody the spirit of unity and service that Obama is calling us all to fulfill!

Here is their report from the visit, courtesy of Dr. Donald Persons.

Just wanted to take a note to record what we did yesterday.

Democrats Abroad (Thailand) Donates to Local Babies Home

(Sunday, January 18, 2008, Sala Ya, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand) A group of people in the Bangkok area recently gathered at the Pak Kred Babies Home in Nonthaburi Province, Thailand to distribute donations and to get to know firsthand about the needs of this home for abandoned and orphaned young people. Brian Thomson of Democrats Abroad (Thailand) organized the event wanting to turn the recent election of Barack Obama into something more concrete by actions for communities where Americans live in Thailand. A large quantity of rice, powdered milk and diapers were received from both Thais and expats in the greater Bangkok and Nakhon Pathom areas.

Another Democrats Abroad member, Anita Simone, is an active volunteer at the center and can vouch for the needs of these 1-5 year-old infants and young persons whose parents in these difficult economic times might not be able to afford to raise the child at this time. Some children’s parents had personal or family crises. Some of the children were abandoned at nearby hospitals or were left on the street in hopes that someone would pick them up. What is most important is that they receive loving care and protection from adults. A child cries because they have been poked, pushed or lost an object to a fellow child. Who will be there to help? So Anita is an example a new and growing breed of socially-engaged Americans in the world.

Although the gifts will be of use to the children, the staff at the center and our own team’s observations concur: there are deeper needs at this center and at similar homes for children throughout Thailand. For example, the number of children per staff person or volunteer needs to be reduced from perhaps 15 down to about 5 children. Personnel and activity rotation is needed to reduce burnout. Incentives such as scholarships and continuing education to overworked and undereducated staff would be of particular help to increase knowledge about early childhood care and learning. Management seminars at local universities and outside auditors could also help the operation in policy and implementation levels to continually improve how it uses its resources. Parental and economic coaching could also be helpful for eventually putting some of these children back under the care of their biological parents. Some adoptions have been done from overseas parents wanting children; however, Thai adoption of children is not so common.

One thing is for sure: the current economic downturn presents huge challenges to an already overburdened orphanage system. So it will require people to stand up in an impossible situation and say: Yes we can! This is the inaugural event of a movement that has come to Thailand through its American expat community.

Monday, January 19, 2009 Dr. Donald S. Persons Reporting

Sunday, January 18, 2009

DAT Inaugural Events in Bangkok and Chiang Mai on Jan 20 evening

Be part of a worldwide celebration as Democrats Abroad gather for the swearing in of our 44th president, Barack Obama!

Join fellow Americans in Thailand to watch our new president take the oath of office at our DAT Inaugural Celebration on Tuesday, January 20th at the Roadhouse Barbecue in Silom (map available at So far nearly 100 people have confirmed their attendance!

We’ll be there from 8:30 PM onwards with campaign clips from The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and Saturday Night Live, in addition to a special message from outgoing DNC Chair Howard Dean to Dems Abroad. The Inauguration ceremony itself will take place between 10:00 PM and midnight (Bangkok time), with plenty of coverage of the parades and other events leading up the formal swearing in.

We’ll also have two white DAT t-shirts for members to sign that we’ll be sending with our best wishes to President Obama and Vice-President Biden at the White House.

Our popular Thai Obama t-shirts will be available, as well as a limited supply of commemorative Thai Obama inaugural mugs!

For those in Chiang Mai, inaugural festivities will kick off at 10:00 PM at the UN Irish Pub (24/1 Ratvithi Rd. 053-214-554).

Please RSVP to if you can make it. We look forward to seeing you there!

All the Best,

Phil Robertson Jr.
Chair, Democrats Abroad Thailand