Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Visit to Host Families Devastated by Floods

Last Sunday I had the opportunity first hand to see the devastation facing our host families due to the floods. Previously, PC had placed the area off limits to PCVs due to the danger and well, we probably would have just been in the way. A group of Thai friends affiliated with the PC and some PCVs visited the families and had the pleasure of giving each family 2,300B (about $77) to help rebuild their lives. We experienced their gratitude and heard their stories first hand. It was a day I will not soon forget. We heard about a son saving his mother from drowning as the flood waters quickly rose to over 5 feet. We heard how many families were out of their homes for 2 to 3 months and have just recently moved back – back to a home and possessions pretty much in ruin. We heard about businesses still closed, rice fields still flooded, and families still scattered. I personally cannot thank my friends and family enough for your generous support. I am honored. I know all too well the pull on our charity heart strings.
I would like to share with you my family’s story. Having a one story house, they had nowhere to go to save their possessions or get out of the water. They built platforms to save what they could and my host mother, Sisunee, still sleeps on one. Her son lost his job until his factory reopens, which will be several more months. Her husband had to return to BKK to his job and her grandson, who had lived with her, has moved to BKK with his mother. It is just too big a mess for a child to be in. Sisunee showed us the ugly gash on her leg resulting from jumping from the platform out the window and missing – you can only imagine how dirty the water was she landed in. The flood water has receded from the house, but is still next to and under the house. It will be a terrible mosquito season. The pictures reflect her appreciation, the devastation, and the mess she is coping with.
Talking with Thai friends we have heard about the government’s efforts. Each flooded family was to receive 5,000B, but many only got 80% due to the local government keeping the rest. Local foundations and groups have come in to help but apparently the efforts were chaotic and unorganized. It has gotten better. With water still on many roadways, covering many fields, mounds of debris everywhere, and farmers and businesses experiencing huge losses; it will be awhile before this area recovers.

More photos on facebook.

Our ride for the day. PCVs Kelly and Joe with Yim, who helped distribute the funds to the families. PCVs are not allowed to handle donated money. It would have been a difficult day without her help.

Trash along the side of the road leaving BKK, it is everywhere.

The road into town still flooded.

Sisunee telling her story. The debris in the background used to be her restaurant.

Her kitchen!

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