Flood Relief Effort, Nonthaburi
19 November 2011
This is another day to remember in the foundation’s history. 15 of us (Thais, Tibetan and Italians) joined force in helping Nonthaburi victims who have suffered from the floods for more than a month.
We met at Paruehat’s office and went on to Bangrakyai district. Lungja, Paruehat’s friend came to help us again. We had to split our survival kits into three groups for three places we would visit. Phii Yajai and her friend brought 80 packs of cooked food for the volunteers and for the flood victims. She kindly cooked a vegetarian meal for me.
By the time we reached Bangrakyai, it was already 10 am. Paruehat prepared a long-tailed boat and three rowboats for us. Some local people came to assist us. We went to the inner zone of Bangrakyai. Our survival kits (310 packs this time) were badly needed, as government help and assistance from other NGOs seldom reach there, despite the fact that the location is quite near Bangkok.
According to an old woman, our foundation is the third group who goes there since they first got flooded about 40 days ago. So most of the time they have to help themselves. While distributing the kits, we saw smiles and received thank-ups from everywhere. Many women appreciated the underwear packs and children showed their big smiles when they saw some cake and milk. The families with dogs and cats were also happy to receive dog’s and cat’s foods. Cat’s food is particularly needed in Laharn sub-district, where there are many Muslims.
From the inner zone of Bangrakyai, we met for a simple lunch on the boats before resuming our mission till all the kits and cooked food were distributed. Then we moved on to our pick-up and car to continue our journey to Laharn. We faced a challenge with bad traffic on the way, as Ratanatibet road was just repaired after it was flooded for more than a month and many people came to see their houses. Usually it takes 10-15 minutes to get to Laharn from Bangrakyai. But this time it took us two hours. Many parts of the road are still flooded.
Finally, we reached a gathering point, where we would split into two groups. The Duse family (Chris, his Thai wife May and Leo, his dad), Yonten and I would go to a Muslim community, whereas the rest of us would go to Nicha community, another location with more than 100 homes under the water.
A Muslim girl and her grandfather came to pick us up. The girl reported stories of crocodiles in the area. With a beautiful smile, she cited her mom’s words: because of the floods, all the money sinks under the water. How true it is! I wonder how we are going to revive our country’s economy and heal the wounded minds whose businesses got lost by the water. Our effort is among drops of “nam jai” (sympathy, or literally mind water) to help dry this ocean of suffering.
We sailed along the water witnessing damaged houses, schools and temples. Many trees got rotten. Yet, the setting sun shone brightly. Its reflection on the water reaffirmed us that things would be okay soon, as long as we cling on to hope and are determined to reach out to the needy.
Thanks to the great staff, volunteers and the donors for this nam jai mission, a great lesson of compassion in action.