Much of the tension has eased in Bangkok and I’m feeling much better. Thanks to everyone who has expressed their concern. Things are getting back to normal, but for how long?
As people begin to examine what led to the events that brought Bangkok to a halt, some have correctly identified the role of charitable giving and volunteering in the country’s reconciliation. The cleanup effort that brought the multitudes of Thais and foreigners to the streets of Bangkok to wash the streets stained and charred with conflict helped many realize that any real reconciliation will take a much larger effort than what the government alone is capable of. Real change can happen if people don’t quickly forget this tragedy and begin to expand their concepts beyond “helping the poor” to beginning a conversation between Thais who (at least from the outside) appear to lead very different lives. This type of mindset is what gives teeth to grassroots movements like ‘Sanuk My Saturday‘ whose success is dependent on the ability to engage local Thais as active, regular participants.
While the volunteer teaching won’t begin until next weekend, I did have a chance to visit the detention center this past week. This was the first time I had been since returning from the US. As usual, it is always a healthy exercise in gratefulness. Because so many volunteers came we were able to visit many of the families I had gotten used to seeing before I left. Thanks to everyone who continues to visit and bring food, water, and companionship to them.
Finally, for everyone who expressed interest in the food supplies we sponsored for five refugee families this month, let me give more details. For about $15 per family they received rice, sugar, condensed milk, noodles, cooking oil and flour. This is only a small way to help them and they still struggle to find other support. For the average family these supplies last about two weeks. Many of the families have already learned to forgo meat in their diets, scrounging to save what they can to pay rent, their biggest expense. So your donations do create small change that makes a big differences in their lives. Please continue to show your support for them so we can duplicate this effort in the future.
This weekend I’m writing from the Burmese border in Mae Sot, Thailand while visiting Future Light Children’s Home. Plenty of photos and details coming in next week’s update.