The holiday season is here and I’m preparing to do something special for the families we’ve been helping this year. This has been one of the most difficult things I’ve worked on all year. Fear reigns in refugee communities in Bangkok, so getting aid to these hidden families dispersed all over the city takes a lot of effort and time. Can’t say too much, but here’s more on what I’m doing with the help of many friends like Pam from the last post.
“Even when the streets are dirty and the sun is shining, everybody’s got a story to tell…”
I should start by telling you that each of these families have a story to tell. They’ve all gone through some sort of unimaginable hardship and have found themselves in a foreign country where they enjoy more safety, but must endure a host of other problems. The biggest issues stem from then being unable to legally work in Thailand and the constant threat of incarceration. Because of the sensitivity of the nature of their circumstance, I can’t provide all the heartbreaking details I’d like to share. We started with one family and before I knew it we had five. Over the past month or so we picked up two more and in the past week I began communicating with our EIGHTH family (anyone who thinks that’s not a lot can come volunteer to be my assistant). I suspect we will have another family before the end of the year and to help those of you who want to sponsor a specific family, I’ve given them a handful of generic last names below (all the need amounts listed below are monthly estimates, but any amount you give will be helpful). So far, the twitter community has been the most active in responding to my calls for help with resources and funds, so you’ll see many twitter accounts listed below.
Widowed mother with three kids. The oldest is a teen aged girl and the younger two are a boy and girl that are grade school aged. They recently took the youngest boy to see a doctor because of persistent headaches. The doctor told the family that the headaches were a result of malnutrition.
Widowed mother with three kids. The oldest son is about seventeen and has two younger sisters (12 & 8). They were so relieved and excited to have their rent paid last month they quickly served Matt & Kate the woodapple juice they regularly drink. Eager to revisit the family, they told me they won’t however be rushing back for more juice.
Imagine an episode of Full House in a studio apartment. This is a cramped household of seven. At least one family member has been diagnosed with a mental condition. The Bryants have a lot happening in so little space, still they get excited about having visitors and they’re more than grateful for the help we have been sending their way.
These two families are two women who are sisters in law of each other. They both have husbands who are incarcerated indefinitely in a detention center. I first made contact with them after I began visiting one of their husbands and slowly uncovered more and more information on their lives, through some really rough use of Thai and lots of hand signals.
The Allens have 5 little girls. All of them are very shy, but are bright and playful if you can get through the fear they have of strangers.
The Iversons live in cheap place and recently told me they didn’t have enough food for their two boys, one girl, and sickly grandmother. I mentioned it to some online friends and they responded pretty quickly.
The Johnsons & The Kidds
The final two families are in better condition than the others. This is mostly because of their ability to make friends and communicate their needs. Still both with small children, they often come short of making rent. I have paid rent for the Johnsons several times and sent help to the Kidds when needed, usually in return for their help finding, communicating with, and distributing goods to needy refugee families. Without their help, I wouldn’t be in contact with half of the families we’re supporting.
“Even when the nights are quiet and the moon is rising, every face has some glory to sell…”
Earlier this month BAMBI (Bangkok’s Assoc. of Mothers & Babies) raised $500 specifically for these families. We will use this money and anything else we raise to make sure they have enjoyable holiday that they can celebrate without worrying about their money woes. Contact me to get involved and happy holidays.
The lyrics above are from a song I love by an artist named Nicolay’s song, Lose Your Way. A few photos are courtesy of Dew Napattaloong.