Soroptimist International is a global volunteer movement, with members belonging to more than 3,000 clubs in 126 countries/territories, spread over 4 federations. The founding of the first Soroptimist club was in Oakland – California in 1921. Members of clubs represent a wide range of occupations, talents and interests. Through international partnerships and a global network of members, Soroptimist’s inspire action and create opportunities to transform the lives of women and girls by advocating for equity and equality; creating safe and healthy environments; increasing access to education; and developing leadership and practical skills for a sustainable future.
A global voice for women
Soroptimist International is a global voice for women working through Awareness, Advocacy and Action to Educate, Enable and Empower women to promote human rights for all, equality, development and peace. The organisation works together with other non-government organisations (NGOs) and various United Nations agencies to bring about changes to make the world a better place for the current and future generations.
The name Soroptimist was coined from the two Latin words, SOROR-Sister, and OPTIMUS – the best. Soroptimist is perhaps best interpreted as ‘The Best for Women’. Since 1921, Soroptimist’s have continued to strive to achieve ‘the best for women’ in every sphere of their lives.
Soroptimist International of Dusit – Thailand (SID)
Every Soroptimist club belongs to one of the four SI Federations within Great Britain and Ireland, Europe, The Americas and South-West Pacific. The Soroptimist International of Dusit Thailand belongs to the SISWP Federation (Soroptimist International South-West Pacific) founded in 1995.
SID is focused on the Theme
“Soroptimist’s – Educate to Lead” with a focus on Education, Enable and Empower that provides opportunities for members to improve the lives of women and girls.
Education prepares women and girls to plan for their future, allows for their economic growth and opens doors to their dreams. The positive relationship between female education and overall development outcomes is well established. An educated woman can not only get a job and take care of herself, but she is also better able to bring up her children well and educate them too. In turn, an educated woman’s household is more likely to prosper as a result of a higher overall income. Investing in women and girls, the benefits flow not only to them but everyone around them. Educate a woman and you educate a whole family.
Since its inception, SID began its Scholarship Programme with members on the Executive Committee working together. Khun Pattama Triyakul, the Chairperson of the Scholarship Programme has been playing a key role for the last 23 years in choosing students, communicating with students and teachers at schools, organising trips to various provinces and making all necessary arrangements to ensure funds are handed over on time. SID members support and assist to make all of this possible including the crucial part of fundraising, all working together towards a common vision. As the saying goes, ” Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
Girls are chosen from underprivileged families who are diligent, and who intend to have an education. SID chooses girls carefully ensuring that support reaches the most needy. Members visit the provinces and assess the situation of the families, trusted people on the ground give feedback about needy families, teachers from schools approach directly for help and sometimes the families themselves write and ask for assistance. The teachers at these schools give feedback on student’s grades before a final decision on selection has been taken. Students from the secondary level are supported until they complete school and the university level students are supported until they graduate. The total number of scholarship students this year is 122.
To support scholarships, fundraising activities are organised. SID’s very unique event, ”The Home and Garden Show” is organised once a year. Gala dinners and lunches and small fundraising activities are also organised throughout the year. Japanese Sister Clubs – Soroptimist International of Hiroo-Tokyo and Soroptimist International of Tajima Club also donate. Fumiko Boughey a Japanese member of the club has maintained Friendship Links for many years with these clubs. Apart from these sources, Corporations, individuals and SID members donate to this very worthy cause.
Students are from many provinces in the North East of Thailand. Sa Kaeo, Mae Hong Son, Chachoengsao, Nakhon Ratchasima, Maha Sarakham, Tak, Phang Nga and Ranong. The visit to Sa Kaeo province bordering Cambodia is very different and very interesting. “The foundation for education along the border”, led by General Pitsanu Urailert along with his committee, advise and assist in selecting students. They accompany Soroptimist members on the day trip, provide the transport, organise scholarship presentations and the meetings with students. They also make arrangements for a good lunch and some interesting sightseeing within the province.
The Tak province (Umphang) is a 3 day trip once every 2 years. Mae Hong Song in Chiang Mai is a 2 day trip to support the THEP- Hill tribe students. The rest are all day trips. Scholarship trips are very satisfying, it is a chance to meet and interact with students, see their progress and listen to their stories of success especially when they graduate and get jobs. Many of them are now working as accountants, teachers, doctors, nurses, various positions in hotels, EGAT, New Life Centre – rehabilitation for drug addicts and many other companies.