|The Elephant Story Invitational Elephant Polo tournament in Moo Baan Chang (the elephant village) in Baan Ta Klang, Surin,Thailand came to a successful close on July 1. The Elephant Story mob went a day early to select the elephants for the tournament from the 300 elephants in the nearby villages.
Rest assured, we were only trying out the elephants and not practicing that day.
The Elephant Story team did take a spiritual edge from a blessing given by the Buddhist Abbot in the village.
The tournament began the next day with the elephant blessing for the strong elephants and the more fragile polo players.
Stay tuned for a documentary coming soon to a screen near you.
The first match with Citi was followed by a visit to the Chang Boon Wittaya School. It has been elevated from the bottom of English language capability in the province to 3rd place in the past three years as a result of our native speaking English language programs which we sponsor through the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation. Moreover, it serves as a magnet secondary school for the primary schools nearby given its English language program. Last year, The Elephant Story supported the purchase of a school bus to transport the outlying students to Chang Boon Wittaya.
The spiritual leader of this effort is Khru Oh, Director of the Learning Link, shown in the right foreground. This program would not have happened without this wonderful person. We then visited two more schools but were unable to make all of the rounds.
A tour of classrooms is inspirational.
Actually, it is huge fun to speak Thai in a classroom of students studying English.
However, it is even better to ride off the pitch and celebrate a hard-won victory over Hathibros with a special kiss.
On the final day, we struggled through a very tough match with Kilts & Sarongs to win the Championship. Once again, we three small Thai guys in the digitized camo shirts overcame vast odds. We do try to be the best dressed team on the pitch thanks to Khun Joey. Some of those signature jerseys can be purchased to help the elephants. By the way, the sak yant on the front of the shirts fosters togetherness between us and the villagers.
So why do we do it? It is wonderful to engage with a small community where you are making a difference. The elephants have fun as do we and the villagers. More importantly, we have a positive impact on the lives of the villagers and their elephants.
Following the tournament, The Elephant Story contributed $60,000 to fund the next annual English language program and a significant portion of a newly developed veterinarian program for the elephants. Over the past three years, The Elephant Story has contributed over $230,000 to these conservation efforts. Of further importance is the fact that the bulk of the elephant polo expenses stay in this area and have amounted to some $75,000 over the period. We and our players are making a difference in a small village that matters in elephant conservation given the fact that it is the location of the largest population of domesticated Asian elephants anywhere.
Hope to see you there next June!
Wine Carriers Made of
Recycled Siam Cement Bags
Siam Cement of Thailand exports massive amounts of cement in bags to Cambodia as the country rebuilds itself following the devastating years of Khmer Rouge suppression. Each bag has an elephant image on it representing the iconic historic symbol of Thailand.
In Cambodia, these discarded cement bags are crafted into tote, duffle, and cosmetic bags as well as wine carriers. The Elephant Story purchases them and returns the proceeds back to elephant conservation.