Siam-Care Foundation

Siam Care takes a biblical approach to strengthen marginalized and at risk children, families, and communities through psychosocial support, health access, educational scholarships, family reconciliation, legal rights and HIV awareness raising, advocacy, and spiritual transformation.
Jun 27, 2013

Letter from Mr. Pat

The work of Siam-Care in the prison, can be a slow process to seeing improvement and changes in lives. Long sentences contribute to the inmates feeling lethargic and hopeless, difficult to motivate or stimulate to look after their health. 

But there are high lights which make the work, the time and effort put into it, all worthwhile. We want to share one such high light with you in the form of a letter received from Mr Pat one of the inmates who has been in the hospital ward for many months. From being a quiet man without much hope he changed into a friendly and talkative person who is motivated to improve his life and looks forwards to his release in a few years time. 

Here some exerts of Mr. Pat's letter:

  “When I lived outside I was a teenager without a goal in life, dropped out of school and ended up using amphetamines to pass the time. This eventually led me to selling drugs which is the reason I am now in prison with a 15 year sentence.........

After being incarcerated a couple of years I became sick, so very sick that my legs and lower part of my body lost all strength and I couldn't even get up any longer. I gave up on life and didn't have a reason to continue. But two other inmates were my friends and didn't let me give up, they kept encouraging me and telling me that I would be a free man again one day and have a new life on the outside. Also my mother and sister kept visiting me. I thought they would be angry and upset with me and not want to have anything to do with me, but instead they continued to come on visiting day and begged me not to give up on life. So finally I agreed to see the prison doctor and was eventually diagnosed with HIV and Psoriasis.......... 

I was admitted into the hospital and here I met you (Siam-Care staff), you also didn't let me give up but brought me hope and stories about life outside. I started to tell myself that I still had a life ahead and should exercise if I wanted to leave this place walking on my own. So slowly I started practicing; first moving my toes, then my feet, then bending my legs. I practiced every day and improved little by little, I also received medication for my sicknesses.......... 

I started this in 2011 and now I am walking again with a stick, I have never skipped a dosage of medication and every day I feel stronger and happier. And I will never give up.........

Thank you for helping me, for being my friend and encouraging me, I will never forget you.”

Apr 8, 2013

Volunteer workers in full force!

working on Mrs Toon
working on Mrs Toon's house

Siam-Care is thankful for the many who support our project in different forms; some through this website, others come and give of their time and skills and still others in various ways. The beginning of this year some overseas-volunteers join forces; a retired army officer from The Netherlands, a retired couple from the USA, as well as a retired teacher from the UK, all came to spend time at the Siam-Care project. One of the things they did was upgrade the house and add a toilet for  Mrs Toon and her husband. Mrs Toon has suffered much on behalf of her first husband. After he died rumors quickly went around the village that this must have been due to HIV, he was so thin and sick. At the request of her brother, the head teacher at the local school, Mrs Toon went and had a blood test done which came back HIV positive. No privacy was granted her and soon neighbours knew of her plight and weren't very sympathetic towards her. Mrs Toon's healthy looking 13 year old daughter was allowed to stay in the house but Mrs Toon was asked to leave, ostracized and forced to moved out of her home into the fields. Thankfully she owns these fields and set up a small house, more like a hut, to live in. Over the years Toon has worked hard on the fields, has been able to have an income from her crops and always fresh vegetables to eat. At the local PLWH (People Living With HIV) group she met a nice man whose story was quite similar to hers. They understand each other, can support each other and now form a family. 

In the local village things have changed over the years, a better understanding of living together with those who are HIV positive as well as medication for the sick has meant that the villagers now understand Mrs Toon's plight and accept her back among themselves. However since Mrs Toon's daughter went off to higher education in a nearby province she has decided to stay where she likes living, surrounded by nature and seeing the fruit of her hard work. 

When our retired, full of energy and zeal, volunteers asked what they could do for us we thought of Mrs Toon's house. It needed new walls and roof to keep the rain out and a toilet would be very helpful. Together with the Siam-Care staff as well as Mrs Toon and her husband they set to work and the result makes everyone happy. 

An additional surprise for the family came in the form of a 'Waka solar energy' lamp. Through the Dutch Volunteer Siam-Care received several of these lights which are very simple and at the same time very bright and work just on solar rays, of which Thailand has plenty! We have been able to distribute these lights among some of the very poor families in the Siam-Care project and made many a family happy!

Thank you for your continuing support for the project, it doesn't just bring hope for better physical health but also a better quality of life as people receive these gifts of love through the partnership of Siam-Care with many of you!

Family with Waka lamp
Family with Waka lamp
Siam-Care staff at work on Mrs Toon
Siam-Care staff at work on Mrs Toon's house
Happy with a real toilet!
Happy with a real toilet!
Apr 3, 2013

The end is in sight for Loong Chai!

SC staff in a teaching session in prison
SC staff in a teaching session in prison

Loong Chai is always one of the first to be waiting for the Siam-Care staff on their prison visits to the hospital. Seated in his wheelchair or sometimes standing and waiting, he will be right at the entrance of the ward (huge cell) and as soon as the staff step in, his face turns into a big smile.

After he fell during his work on a construction site he ended up with back problems, unable to work, and having difficulties walking. He ended up using a wheel chair, depressed and no longer able to work. He felt so useless when his children started school and he didn't have money to send them.  In a moment of desperation and not thinking clearly he decided to sell some amphetamines for quick money. He was soon caught and sentenced to 25 years in prison. This was in 2002. 

Much has happened in the past 11 years; his 2 children grew into teenagers and his wife passed away. The children went to live with Loong Chai's sister who, together with her daughter, runs a rice-soup stall. Loong Chai's children help at the stall in the evening. Siam-Care staff visited his children and helped them with school supplies, also making sure they were able to visit their father in prison regularly. 

This month, as we enter the prison hospital Loong Chai greets us with an extra big smile. Soon we hear the reason for the smile; his parole request has been approved on the grounds that he has served over 1/3 of his sentence and has a health issue. The exact date is not yet known but he will be released any time soon now.  

He wants to be in the best condition he can be when released and to this end Loong Chai gets out of his wheelchair as often as his legs allow him to exercise, trying to walk or at least stand for a while  every day. He will move in with his sister and hopes to be able to help her at the rice soup stall, he will make merit for his wife and he will be a father to his children again. He also wants to make sure that Siam-Care stays in touch and therefore he is asking our work phone numbers and already has memorized them all. 

Many Thai prisoners have their hopes of early release raised by a recent introduction, by The Ministry of Justice, of the use of electronic monitoring devices ( known as “tagging”) for offenders as a means to deal with the  overcrowded prisons in the country. The 143 prisons in Thailand have a capacity for around 106,000 prisoners based on regulations that each inmate has 2.25 square meters of space in a cell. Yet in March 2013 there were 262,077 prisoners, which apart from the overcrowded conditions, costs the government $1.40 for daily food per inmate.

Under the new law 4 categories of prisoners would be considered for the electronic monitoring device:  those who may soon die in prison, those who must take care of parents, husband, wife or children who are dependent on them, those who are sick and in need of continuous treatment and finally those who deserve mitigation or other means of custody. However, even though the law has taken effect a feasibility study still has to be carried out. Also there is fear that the general public may not look favorable at it, being worried about living with convicted criminal in their midst which could lead to stigmatization of the offenders and their families.

For Loong Chai and his family the release date is not dependent on the implementation of the new law and they are eagerly awaiting his release, on parole.  Siam-Care will be there to support him in the process of settling back into society, and for his children to continue their schooling. We thank you for supporting our work and continuing with us to help Loong Chai and many other families who have for longer or shorter periods been separated by prison walls and depend on outside support for many every day basic supplies, school costs etc.

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