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This Educational Garden and Media Laboratory In Thailand Packs in a Whole Lot of Heart

June 27, 2016, Mae Sot, Northwest Thailand—a new educational garden and media laboratory was opened to provide disadvantaged Thais from the minority Karen population with the proper education and professional training they need to contribute to the booming Thai hospitality sector. 

The facilities are built at the Hospitality & Catering Training Center (HCTC). Established in 2009, HCTC is a school that helps young Thai Karen people attain the marketable skills they lack to earn a living in the hospitality business by engaging them in a two-year educational program, as part of an overall mission to alleviate poverty in the country. The garden allows the students to plant fruit and vegetables and use them in their training, while the media laboratory provides computers, photo and video cameras, books and manuals. Renovations were also conducted in the school and the schooling fees of 60 students were covered. This is all made possible by the CHF 47,500 auction sale organized by IWC Schaffhausen and Sotheby’s Geneva of one single tiny, very special watch called the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Edition “Le Petit Prince.” 

A watch about a prince

In red-gold case and a dark blue dial that resembles the color of the night’s sky, the watch has seven stars located in the inner circle of its dial. Every day, one of the seven stars lights up in gold to indicate the day. On the reverse side, there is a playful engraving of a little boy with golden hair that stars in one of the greatest and most translated literary books of all time, The Little Prince.

The Little Prince is an adult fable written like a children’s book with watercolor illustrations of a pilot stranded in the desert meeting a young prince that fell to the earth from a tiny asteroid. Throughout his journey of human nature, the little prince explores seven planets, that are symbolized by the seven stars in the watch, and meets seven types of people in each planet—the king, the vain man, the drunkard, the businessman, the lamplighter, the geographer, and finally the rose—all their names indicated in the back engraving of the watch. 

“One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eyes,” says the fox to the Little Prince—one of the most significant lines in the book. The book portrays the essence of human relationships, while also reminding of the human despair and loneliness happening in the world. “The Little Prince is a passionate plea for comradeship and humanity, but also for the significance of having a mission, a duty, and a responsibility in life,” explains Georges Kern, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen. “As a globally active corporation, we take our social responsibility very seriously, and our commitment is helping to increase literacy among disadvantaged children.” 

The aviator’s foundation

The Little Prince was written by world famous author, great humanist, and French pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry during his exile to North America after the outbreak of World War II. Driven by his great dream of flying, Saint-Exupery dedicated his life to aviation and writing memoirs of his humanist philosophies and journey as a pilot.

On July 31, 1944, Saint-Exupéry took off on his last flight over the south of France, after which he was never seen again. After his death, Saint-Exupéry’s heirs and admirers from the aeronautic and literary world built a foundation to honor his name and his humanitarian legacy. The Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation was established to help underprivileged young people all over the world by supporting and funding diverse educational initiatives. It aims to instill in young people a sense of purpose and to teach them to become responsible citizens living together as part of their communities.

Auction for education

In 2006, IWC Schaffhausen engaged in partnership with the foundation. Since then, the Swiss luxury watch manufacturer has launched a collection of special limited-edition Pilot’s Watches to pay tribute to the legendary French pilot and writer. In the past few years, these special timepieces are auctioned to raise money for the foundation’s educational projects. The first auction in 2013 sold a unique Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Edition “Le Petit Prince” in platinum (Ref. IW502801) for CHF 173,000. The proceeds were used to fund two school buildings with a library in Ruluos, Cambodia. In 2014, a Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “The Last Flight” (Ref. IW388005) sold for a winning bid of CHF 40,000, which was used to build a modern library and recreation areas at the children’s hospital in Curitiba, Brazil. The facilities were officially opened by the Brazilian supermodel and IWC brand ambassador, Adriana Lima. Finally, in November 2015, a Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Edition “Le Petit Prince” sold for CHF 47,500. The proceeds were used to fund IWC and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Foundation’s latest project, the garden and library recently built for the Karen population in Mae Sot, Thailand.

“Thanks to this generous contribution from IWC Schaffhausen and the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation, we are able to improve our educational program and to better prepare our students for their entry into the world of work,” explained Simon Martin, HCTC director. 

Matthieu Dupont, managing director of IWC South East Asia, said: “We are proud that we can make a tangible difference for these students here in Mae Sot. The new facilities will contribute to the enhancement of the educational program at HCTC, underlining our support for children and adolescents facing challenging circumstances, which is one of the cornerstones of our corporate social responsibility.”

 

For more information, contact Nicolas Delsalle-Mun, secretary-general for The Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation, Tel. +33 (0)1 53 90 22 12. E-mail ndelsalle@fasej.org, or visit www.fasej.org. 

 

Article originally published in Metro Society's August 2016 issue / Photographs courtesy of TWC / Minor edits have been made for Metro.Style