Jacqueline Lee is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout Southeast Asia. Her “Postcard” from the visit in Thailand:
After one of the worst flooding in Thailand, Global Vision International Charitable Trust responded by providing relief and assistance so that communities could rebuild themselves. On June 1, I was able to accompany GVI to one of its flood relief projects at a school in Lopburi.
GVI works with local groups and organizations to support communities. This specific one was in dire need of rebuilding its school that had to shut down for 2 months due to the flooding. During this time students had to stay at home and fell behind the rest of their peers where the flooding did not reach or subsided quickly.
GVI was informed by a contact about the emergency situation, so they went out to survey the area. Before, community members had to walk through the water and take boats around the town. Some of the staff at the school shared that GVI was the first people they saw handing out water in the emergency situation. This school has 125 students from preschool to 6th grade with many from the hill-tribe areas. Some students have to sleep at the school since they live in such remote areas. During the flooding these students all had to return to their homes with no education, school, and away from their friends for 2 months.
One of the teachers explained that they were preparing for flooding, but the news never gave a clear timeframe for when the waters would arrive. By the time it arrived, within an hour almost the entire first floor was under water. She said the last big flood was about 16 years ago, but the school has never flooded like this before. At the end, I asked the main supporter and patron of this school (a local monk) why he was so passionate and committed. He explained he was born in this town, studied at this school, and the monk he studied under had started the school. He wanted to continue it – it was the first and largest in the village.
The before and after pictures of the flooding are incredible. GVI was able to help bring volunteers to clean up flood water lines, repaint, rebuild walls that were rotted and or washed away, clean up furniture, and salvage what could be reused. They also rebuilt the gardens (where students learn about where food comes from and use the vegetables for meal times) and the playground. GVI volunteers helped bring new bedding for the boarding rooms and new books since many were destroyed in the water that rose too fast to move everything upstairs. GVI was one of the first to respond to the flood in this community. With the support of donations through GlobalGiving, children have returned to school. I am thankful to Jax, Apple, and GVI staff for taking me to see where the communities affected by the flooding are today.
To see more pictures from the visit go to: JacquelineInTheField Blog
With great thanks to your very generous support we have now surpassed our target of $70,000 for our Thailand Flood Campaign which is fantastic! We are so glad to be in a position where we can provide effective relief for victims of this huge disaster, not just in the short term but also with long term plans to help people recover and get back to normality.
We have shared news about our initial support delivering support parcels to those affected and stranded by flooding. As waters subside we are now establishing and implementing longer term plans. Any additional funds received for this project will help in the implementation of these plans.
First off we will be working with schools to help them clear up and get children back to school, with many students already having missed months of classes.
Here GVI Thailand Project manager Jax Keenan shares a report from the field:
'Thousands of schools, colleges and universities across Thailand were forced to close as the filthy brown flood water swamped their classrooms; some students have already missed weeks or months of classes. Now, with the water receding in many areas, schools face the grim task of cleaning up as quickly as possible in order to get children back into the classrooms.
This weekend (3rd December) a clean-up operation, funded by the kind donations to the GVI Charitable Trust, will begin at Wat Sing Tong School in Lopburi, north of Bangkok. The school was set up by the monks from the local temple; the library was built slowly, funded by donations from the monks and the local community, but most of the books were destroyed by the floods. 20 of the 60 students actually live in the school, having been sent from their mountain communities to gain a valuable education.
The classrooms, bathrooms and kitchen are coated in the thick brown scum left as the waters subsided; most of the school’s resources – including books, sports gear, desks, cupboards, shelves and fridges – have to be replaced. The playground and even the school garden – which used to provide fruit and vegetables not only for school meals but also for students to take home, have been turned to sludge.
In the coming weeks a team of Thai university graduates – who we also worked with to distribute supplies in Bangkok – along with some of our own volunteers and staff will work tirelessly to clear, clean, paint, plant and get the school back on it’s feet, restoring the heart of this hard-hit community.'
A month ago we sent support parcels to flood victims using generous donations made through the GVI Charitable Trust. With a great need still present we have taken a more hands-on approach taking a truck on the 14 hour journey north.
In Central Bangkok, with our load of over 3000litres of drinking water, rice, toiletries, basic medical supplies and pet food, we met up with a group of volunteers from the Ministry for Social Development and a group of university graduate friends volunteering their services.
They added another 1500 litres of water, fruit, vegetables, cooking oil, pre-cooked meals, 200 care parcels and a box of toys to our hoard, also funded by Charitable Trust donations. With their local knowledge our truck, piled high with supplies and now 25 volunteers, took the slow journey out to Phuttamonthon in the western outskirts of Bangkok.
Signs of the flooding quickly surrounded us; lines of cars parked along raised bridges, houses and businesses inundated and abandoned, makeshift shelters in the middle of the highway, boats being towed along high streets. The size of the clean-up operation that will be needed when the water finally subsides became clear.
Where buses could slowly get through they were packed with people trying to get on with their daily lives. In worse affected areas people clung to any vehicle able to pass through the waters, trying to collect supplies to take back to their still water-logged homes.
Moving further west, the waters crept ever higher and buses were quickly replaced by the taxi boats of entrepreneurial locals, until even our own intrepid truck driver said he couldn’t take us any further. Wading through the water, we transferred supplies to makeshift boats and piled in after them.
We delivered goods to a wat, or temple, that distributes much needed provisions to people still struggling to live in the local community, their homes waist deep in water with no access to basic supplies, clean water, fuel or electricity.
Word of our arrival quickly spread and boats surrounded the temple (along with rafts made of plastic bottles, washing tubs, polystyrene and anything else that would float!), as the head monk accepted our offerings and gave each of us an amulet. Even the multiple cats and dogs living in the temple were grateful to see us, scratching at the pet food sacks until they were opened for them!
Afterwards we drove around the flooded streets giving out supplies as we went. Some locals hitching a ride told us that transportation is so difficult that very little support has been sent their way, with some areas receiving no help at all, and any stores that are open are all but empty.
Some had made the long journey through the stinking stagnant water to the main road, only to be rewarded with less than a litre of clean drinking water. They were all grateful that fact we were there and smiling faces greeted us all the way along our journey.
As the severity of the floods and the enormity of the clean-up task became apparent, one thing struck each of us: the incredible resilience, warm-heartedness, positivity and ingenuity of the Thai people. Their seemingly never-ending capacity to keep smiling is incredible and infectious, and has made a lasting impression on each one of us. Further projects are planned to help with the massive job of cleaning up after the waters subside providing longer term relief to flood victims, we look forward to sharing further news shortly.
We would like to share an update from the field regarding some of the initial support made possible with thanks to donations to this project. GVI Thailand project Manager Jax Keenan explains:'Two weeks ago our support parcels were kindly taken on their difficult journey north by a local group of volunteers.
The supplies were initially destined for a temporary shelter north of Bangkok, where 4000 flood refugees from Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani were being housed. Just as our donations were about to be sent, a protective dyke was breached; floodwaters began to inundate the shelter and the flood victims were once again evacuated.
Some were moved to a military camp in nearby Saraburi province, others to the Rajamangla National Stadium in Bangkok. It was here that the parcels, sent with your kind donations, finally made it into the hands of those they were made for. They were gratefully received and provided comfort to people who have yet again been uprooted by the flood waters.
A small number of the evacuees from Thammasat, hearing that the waters had subsided in their villages, decided to make the journey home to begin the slow process of rebuilding their lives. Thousands of others are now doing the same and, with many roads still submerged, supplies are scarce.
With this in mind we are planning to send further provisions to Phutthamonthon; hundreds of people here are now taking on the mammoth task of clearing up after the floods, but are struggling simply to find such basics as food and clean drinking water. 500 people whose homes are still under water are being housed in the local temple. In the coming weeks, working with local organizations, we will be sending essential items to provide support both to those involved in the clean up and those still waiting to get back to their homes.'
Outside of this initial support we are working hard to establish a strategy for helping to deal with the situation as waters subside including long term plans. We will be sharing news as our strategy develops and the situation allows us to begin action this work. Many thanks to everyone who has supported this project
Initial support for flood victims in Thailand has involved assembling and dispatching support parcels .
Thousands of people in Thailand are currently forced to remain in cramped conditions with little or no access to amenities. These parcels will at least bring some comfort to these people as they wait for the waters to subside when they will have to tackle the huge task of rebuilding their communities and lives.
With great thanks to the wonderful generous nature of Thai people we were able to purchase these parcels at a significantly reduced rate meaning that donations to this project will go even further towards supporting flood victims.
Once the waters do finally subside there will be plenty of work need to help people take steps towards normality and we will be there to work alongside the local people and support them
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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