Thamrong “Tui” Chomphusri
Just before the tsunami, Tui was due to start work at a resort on Koh Phratong. Fortunately, she had to return to Bangkok on that fateful day to collect some documents and remained safe while the resort was completely destroyed by the wave. Tui decided to return to the region and work for the North Andaman Tsunami Relief (now Andaman Discoveries) to help rebuild the region.
There is nothing that Tui does not do and you’ll find her in the office and in village, coordinating numerous community-led development projects, overseeing the long-term scholarship program (with over 126 students) and translating for tourists so that they can really engage with the villagers. Her personable nature makes her popular with staff, villagers and tourists alike. With a history in hotel and tourism management, P’Tui’s strong service mind and beautiful smile has been invaluable to the success of Andaman Discoveries.
Born and raised in Kathmandu, Bodhi Garrett graduated from UC Berkeley and moved to southern Thailand in 2003; researching sea turtles and serving as marketing and conservation director for a remote eco-resort. Bodhi founded North Andaman Tsunami Relief after the December 2004 wave claimed his job, home, and the communities he had come to know and love. The grassroots disaster relief effort grew under his leadership to encompass over 150 projects in 12 villages.
Since 2007, Bodhi has guided the formation of a number of award-winning groups, including a handicrafts cooperative, Youth In Action conservation projects, the North Andaman Community Tourism a community network, and, of course, Andaman Discoveries. Bodhi’s recent speaking engagements on sustainable tourism and community development include Cambridge University’s Education Without Borders, the Global Ecotourism Conference, and the Asian Institute of Technology.
Nattaya “Nat” Sektheera
With a clever wit, and an unfailing sense of social justice, Nat’s responsibilities include project management, administration, community relations, and graphic design. She serves as the coordinator for the North Andaman Community Tourism Network, and for our local youth environmental education collective. Nat’s willingness to help with whatever is needed, and her deep friendships in the communities we serve, make her a very important part of the AD team.
Nat’s professional experience includes time with the Elephant Conservation Network, the geoinformatics journal of the Asian Institute of Technology, and a number of other positions at NGOs. Nat’s education includes a Bachelor’s degree in biology, one in Thai studies, and a Master’s degree in Oriental Language Inscription. Nat’s hobbies include traveling, with recent trips to Egypt and Japan. When not in the office, Nat can be found enjoying Japanese films and driving in her stylish classic Mitsubishi Lancer.
Karen arrived in Kuraburi in September 2008, and initially planned to stay in Kuraburi for three months as a volunteer English teacher. She quickly ascended to a full-time member of the staff upon developing a love for Thailand, its people, and AD’s work. Today she can be found maintaining relationships by teaching one day a week in local schools, while spending the remainder of her time ensuring the AD ship sails smoothly.
Scotland is home for Karen. She was born and raised in Stirling, where she obtained a business degree from University of Stirling. Prior to life in Thailand, Karen held a variety of jobs, including working as a nanny for six months in the U.S. during a break in college, picking grapes at a winery for a month in France, sales and promotions manager for Delta Music, and a trainer for Cutting Crew in England. The jobs all share a common thread –- a passion for working with people.
Nicole Lemmo joins the Andaman Discoveries team as Program Manager. Prior to moving to Kuraburi, Nicole served as a community based organizational development volunteer with the US Peace Corps in the province of Chumphon. After completing her twenty-seven months service, she was happy to become part of the AD team and continue to work with the Thai community this time in the area of sustainable tourism. Being fluent in the Thai language, culture and food has become a pleasurable and inclusive experience for Nicole. As an avid traveler and naturalist, she enjoys the beauty of Thailand and hopes to use her experiences to offer others the opportunity to realize its wonder.
Peeraya “Ae” Suksa-ard
Ae is overseeing volunteers as they monitor endangered turtles, build a community center, plant a village garden, and help prepare Ban Lions for a sustainable future. In addition, Ae is using the education room in the community center to hold English lessons for adults and children alike.
Ae’s daughter, Pitah, is also engaged with Planeterra’s projects, as she studies with other village children under Ae’s tutelage. She also was a winner in Planterra’s Children’s Day drawing contest in January, and enjoyed conservation activities and a free lunch with the village. Every other day Pitah and her friend s in the village visit the community garden, where they collect vegetables for group meals, and look after the fruit trees and medicinal herb plants that they planted in February.
Raliya “Noi” Petchmanee
Tung Nang Dam Village Guide and Homestay Coordinator
Noi graduated from NATR’s vocational program a more confident person and has used her new skills to become a prominent leader and spokesperson in the village committee. As well as guiding, coordinating and running a homestay, Noi helps her elderly parents on their goat farm and fruit orchard. Her cooking is legendary, and is the highlight of everyone’s time on the island. Thanks to Noi, her village now has a safe floating pier, making it easier for villagers to get on and off the island. Noi’s smile is an example of the warmth and kindness of the Southern people. Noi has also started an orchid conservation nursery, after outsiders took all the rare orchids from the jungle to sell.
Ladda “Pink” Aharn
Ban Talae Nok Village Youth Group Coordinator
Andaman Discoveries saw the potential in Ban Talae Nok’s Pink through her enthusiasm and motivation in participating with various projects. After much training and a lot of her hard work, Pink is now leading the Youth Conservation Group and aerobics class and managing the community centre; she was the force behind Bamboo Savings Project and the recycling and mangrove conservation programmes, as well as being a home-stay mother.
Lilia joined our team in April 2011, bringing her talent and inspiration to the Andaman Coast. Born and raised in California, she attended San Diego State University before starting her career in Tourism and Interactive Marketing. After working in the tourism industry for over 8 years, and seeing the negative effects of mass tourism, she shifted her focus to Sustainable and Community-Based Tourism.
As the co-founder of GrassRoots Interactive, she is also a talented web designer, and expert in SEO and social media. She currently works as a consultant on various international projects, and offers her skills exclusively to sustainable businesses, responsible tour operators, and non-profit organizations. Connect with her on Linked-in and visit her Technomad Lifestyle Travelogue.
Program Development Manager
Mimi joined the Andaman Discoveries family in 2008, and after moving back to Canada, continues to advise us from abroad. Her academic background includes economics, finance and management studies. After working in the investment and pension industry for a number of years, Mimi volunteered in a turtle conservation program in Costa Rica, and then went on a solo three-month journey to Asia, including Thailand, of course! Back in her hometown in Toronto, Canada, Mimi got Master’s degree in Environmental Studies, with a focus on community-based tourism, and spent two months conducting research in Northern Thailand. Shortly after Mimi finished her Master’s degree, she read about the good work that Andaman Discoveries has been doing for the local communities after the tsunami, and she could not refuse this great opportunity to put her knowledge and skills to use.