On Nov. 22, Seattle University students and members of the community will dress up as their favorite deities, invoke the spirit of Thor and channel their inner Athena to support the building of an orphanage in Thailand. Pantheon Incarnate, a deity-themed fundraising party, will raise money for the Seattle University–Engineers for a Sustainable World’s Thailand Orphanage Project.
SU-ESW has visited the village of Mae Nam Kuhn in northern Thailand multiple times in the last ten years for various projects to develop permaculture. They have constructed a footbridge, a chlorine manufacturing and distribution system, drinking water systems and a dormitory in the village. Last December, six SU-ESW members as well as the faculty advisor Dr. Phillip Thompson and alumnus Patrick Cummings traveled to Thailand for ten days to revisit the sites and explore new project ideas.
“We were getting reconnected with our project sites from the past…brainstorming new ideas for future projects and meeting the people that the club members had affected,” said junior civil and environmental engineering major Kelsey Hopkins.
This year marks the 10-year anniversary the club’s dormitory project in Mae Nam Kuhn. In addition to site assessment at their previous project locations in the village, they also visited the village of Huai San for the first time because they saw a need there and wanted to help.
“Historically, they’ve had drug trafficking of heroin but now it’s methamphetamines,” Thompson said.
Drug trafficking has impacted the village significantly, and many of its children are orphaned as a result. The team decided that building a dormitory was how they wanted to make an impact.
“[The orphans] won’t have much of a future unless they get some housing first,” Cummings said.
The plans for the dormitory, designed primarily by club member John Dickey, include a two-story, 20 x 14 foot building with a retaining wall to house nearly 50 orphans.
According to Thompson, all the groundwork for the dormitory has been completed, the brush has been cleared and they will hopefully start pouring the foundation for the building soon while it is still the dry season. While they hope to have the dormitory completed by March, the completion date will be dependent on how much money is raised. They have currently raised about $2,000 of their $20,000 goal through online donations. Cummings came up with the Pantheon Incarnate party to help raise additional funds.
Pantheon Incarnate will be located at the Palladium Theater. The admission fee is $15 for those who dress up as gods and $30 for those who do not.
“We’ve got a couple of burlesque acts, a couple of stand-up comedy acts, two bands–one opener and one headliner,” Cummings said.
He added that they might be able to add a drag act, but that is not yet confirmed.
In addition to ticket sales, they will also be raising money by putting several items up for raffle, including honey, rum and machetes from Cummings’ travels around the world. All proceeds from the event will go towards the building of the dormitory.
This is not the first time that Cummings has hosted extravagant parties. Cummings began throwing parties with his friends around 2006 while he was unemployed. They eventually came up with Fraternal Urban Castle, an event planning service that throws events located at Cummings’ house.
“There was a whole bunch of people like myself who had graduated and there were no jobs available,” Cummings said. “But we had a bunch of time and creativity.”
His costume parties have been very successful and been featured multiple times in The Stranger.
Other fundraising plans for the dormitory project include an online auction, which will be launched sometime soon, according to club president Nataya Rakpanitmanee. Items to be auctioned include an art piece from Thailand, decorative jewelry and gift certificates.
Thompson plans to return to Thailand with the club next summer to continue working on an aquaponics project, a food production system that utilizes aquatic animals, in the Mae Nam Kuhn village and to assess the progress of the orphan dormitory project. Thompson will also have an opportunity next summer for students who can play the piano to apply for a two-month stay in Mae Nam Kuhn to teach music.
At least one SU-ESW member will be at Pantheon Incarnate to explain their project and answer any questions.
“I encourage people to show up and show support for what [the club] is doing,” Cummings said.
Pantheon Incarnate will occur from 8 to 11 pm, with doors opening at 7pm.
The writer may be reached at [email protected]