The Wildlife Friends of Thailand is a wonderful organization founded 17 years ago to rescue wild animals from maltreatment or neglect; educate people with a view to stopping cruelty to animals; prevent hunting and promote conservation of all natural resources (flora and fauna); and pool knowledge and manpower to set up release programs for animals that qualify for reintroduction to the wild. When I contacted its Founder/Director Edwin Wiek, a Dutchman who has lived in Thailand for decades, to see how the Year of Giving Generously could get involved, he asked me how mom had felt about elephants. In fact Sumalee always loved elephants, and had a small collection of elephant art, trinkets etc. Elephants stand for strength, wisdom, solitude, strong loyalty to family, and intelligence -- all qualities that I associate with my mother. Edwin mentioned that the WFFT was setting up an elephant sanctuary, e.g. for retired "beggar elephants," and that a hospital was needed. Another worthy cause was found, and on the first anniversary of Sumalee's death the YOGG donated 888,000 THB (a little over $25,000) for the construction of an elephant hospital. I received the following update from Edwin last week (May 25, 2015):
"We have started with clearing the land for building the elephant hospital and I expect that the first pillars will be up by the second week of June. We started a bit later as we are still not finished with the paddock for bull elephants, which took a lot more construction time than expected, but that is normal in Thailand I guess. All in all the completion should not be later than end of August this year , as the roof (18x18 meters) is basically the biggest part of the work." Pictures and more updates to follow.