Tag Archive | environment

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.

Avatar and the message behind

I’m not a movie-fanatic but I was deeply moved by the youtube trailer of The Secret which I owe great thanks to Joseph Emmanuel Lansang for giving me the link. I haven’t recovered from the frenzy of The Secret yet when he told me to watch Avatar saying “Watch it and you will thank me more“. In less than an hour I saw status updates on Facebook Livestream talking about the movie and how good it was. ‘Twas not until I read the Avatar review of Rebecca Murray at About.com that I finally found my way to the cinema. My friend Jytjyt Soliva was at first very reluctant to watch it because for her, ‘280 Baht is way too expensive for a movie’. But having convinced by her co-teachers, she ended up on the seat beside me.

As I let my 3D glasses take me to Pandora, I felt I was hypnotized by its exhilarating panorama. The 3D glasses was indeed successful in letting the viewers delve into the world of the Na’vis. It gave me the feeling that I was actually there, a part of their world and sharing with them the magnificent beauty that nature has to offer. Two thumbs up for James Cameron for such an ‘out of the box’ creativity. The cinematography was perfect.

What I liked most about the movie was the love ingredient James Cameron has incorporated. Jake leaving the human world to be one with the alien Neytiri was way too romantic. But despite the grandiose scenes and the magical feeling that runs through my veins, I can’t help but be bothered by the evident message of the movie. One doesn’t need to reach the climax of the story before realizing its connection to the catastrophic phenomena humans are experiencing at present.

According to Murray, “Avatar is set in a future in which we’re able to travel to distant planets and interact the natives.” Here’s my own take on that. Watching the movie was like taking off on a time machine that brought me back to the past, where our world  was like that of Pandora, peacefully inhabited by our ancestors. But humanity’s greed placed our mother land to destruction just like the Na’vis’ tree of life.

How the Na’vis grieved for losing their loved ones and home reflects the suffering of those victims of calamities at present. And the sad truth is that what ruined their harmonious life is basically the same to what destroyed our land right now, technological advancement, literally. Although innovations are necessary for the improvement of life, the inevitable misuse and overuse of these technologies led to various environmental destructions.

The last 30 minutes of the movie showed how the humans were defeated by the Na’vis despite their use of high-tech shields. I felt that the Na’vis were sending us a message, that at the very end when it’s time for mother nature to take its revenge, even the greatest inventions of man cannot save us.