Archives

Volunteering in relief centres: things to keep in mind

Little girl packing clothes

The flooding in Thailand has left thousands of people homeless and in danger. While a lot of people particularly those in safer zones were busy discussing how things came about and who to blame, others were busy volunteering at evacuation and relief centres. We decided to join the latter.

On Saturday off I went with friends Anake Lekkon and Nesszi Lapin to Don Muang airport to help pack goods for the flood victims. Being a VSO volunteer not so long ago, I thought I was ready – just a T-shirt, short pants and slippers – then I realized there are a few things that I should bear in mind. These may be simple but still worth sharing.

What to bring
When our mind is too focused on what we can do, we tend to neglect what we can bring. With houses submerged in water, some people have barely anything so bring whatever you can. This is the best time to clean your closet and let go of things you haven’t used for the past years.

When we reached there, the first thing I got involved with was unpacking  cartoons and packs. How I wished then that I had brought my cutter, it would have made the job a lot easier and faster.

Comfort is one important factor to be able to work efficiently. So, bring a mask as there will always be different kinds of odor to deal with. Better yet, have a menthol inhaler in your pocket. Don’t forget your handkerchief and for ladies, anything to tie your hair. It also pays to bring a band aid.

What to wear
Wear a T-shirt bigger enough to allow you to move comfortably. For ladies, this helps when you have to squat. Shoes will allow you to move or run quickly than slippers and it can protect your feet better too.

What to do
This actually never crossed my mind before I went there because I expected that we will pack goods. However, when we reached there we were greeted by a crowd of people – and I mean massive crowd. Some were busy working but a lot just stood there without doing anything. The manpower was not maximized and it was not very systematic.

A little boy collecting nylon ties and garbage

In this kind of situation, just try to use your initiative and start working without being told. You don’t need to have a specific task. In my case, I went back and forth distributing and tying sacks, carrying packed goods and even gathering trashes. Just try to help the other volunteers do their job more efficiently and easily.

On Sunday, we decided to go to the ThaiHealth Relief Centre instead. As there weren’t as many people as there were in Don Muang airport, the organisation staff were able to manage the volunteers and gave us specific tasks to do. Our group, composed of friends from the Youth Engagement Summit Nyo Min Ko, Pimsiri Danphitsanuparn and Ruby Manchada,  made EM (Effective Microorganisms) balls which will be thrown unto the flooded areas to reduce water pollutants that can cause the spreading of diseases. We learned that sending donations to ThaiHealth is better as they send them off to the affected areas right away.

What we did last weekend were just simple acts of kindness to our affected Thai brothers and sisters. But these little acts when put together can already make a difference. After all, caring for others is more meaningful when it becomes a verb.

ThaiHealth Relief Centre
BorBorSor Bldg, near Paholyothin Soi 3. By BTS, get off at Sanampao Station. Get out at Exit 3 and walk towards Aree for about 100 meters. The center will be on your left. For more information, call Ms. Patsy Tapasan at 0898148800

Hope for South-East Asia

According to the news from the United Nations, “over 600 people have died and more than eight million others  – in Thailand 700,000 of them are children – are affected by flooding and typhoon, with the situation expected to worsen”.

I am in sorrow for the loss of lives in Thailand, the country that has been my home for over two years but I grieve more for my country, the Philippines, that was severely hit by typhoon. And how can I lose sight of the other South-East Asian countries that were equally damaged?

These catastrophes are not something that come unexpected knowing how we exploit our natural resources and live an environmentally unfriendly lifestyle.

Anywhere in the world, the revenge of mother nature can be felt. Very sadly, those who suffer the most are the least, if not at all, accountable!

It is very disheartening to see photos of people struggling for survival. But it is very heartwarming to see that a lot of people braved the flood and rain just to lend a helping hand.

Although I was devastated, I found hope from the one huge bright star I saw the other night. I was reminded of our slogan at the Youth Engagement Summit in Malaysia, “South-East Asia YES we can!” Yes, I believe we can.

Let’s not let the rain wash away hope and courage. Let it sprinkle kindness and overflowing love. Let’s not let the storm break our spirits and dreams for a brighter future. Let it break the walls that divided people and nations.

Making a difference

If we want to make a difference, it doesn’t matter where we are, what we do and who we work with. One seed can yield bountiful fruits even if it didn’t grow on where it fell nor on a suitable soil and environment. Even the simplest deed when done with love and compassion can make a difference, if not to the world at least to someone or something.