Friends of Thailand Group Responds to Devastating Floods
By Erica Burman on Friday, November 4th, 2011
Floods can devastate in a flash, or unwind as a slow moving disaster. In Thailand, the historic floods that have impacted millions of people in large swaths of the country started back in the late summer, but only recently have made headlines in the West. By October 23, the death toll stood at 356.
The Returned Peace Corps Volunteer group Friends of Thailand (FoT) has been monitoring the situation with great concern. Following is an account by group president Carolyn Nickels, of what they’ve been doing:
October 25, 2011 (morning and afternoon)
Khun Nilobol Pimdee, First Secretary of the Thai Embassy in Washington DC, and Friends of Thailand discuss plans via email and telephone to contact Thailand Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) in hopes they might consider making donations through the Embassy to the Thai Red Cross for emergency relief. We decide that Friends of Thailand will accept online donations for two weeks, and then, send the total collected to DC.
October 25, 2011 (evening)
Friends of Thailand sends out a message with information about making donations through its online DONATE button at www.friendsofthailand.org. The message includes an attached letter from Julia Chinnock, an RPCV of Thai 118 and a resident of Bangkok. In her message, Julia writes:
I’m getting some of the saddest messages/calls from my friends– just this moment, a dear friend sent me this sms: “My place and clinic were flooded, so my family and I leave from bkk to somewhere.you should do too. Take good care naka. Miss you.”
Don’t forget the Thai people when this is no longer in the news. Remember the 3rd goal.
Before the message goes out to the final Friends of Thailand email list, the first donation arrives, from a member of Thai III. Four minutes later, another donation arrives from a non-RPCV member. Google continues to send email notices of RPCV donations into the night and throughout the following day.
October 27, 2011
Friends of Thailand has collected over $3,000 in donations in less than three days.
Julia writes from Bangkok one last time:
I fled my riverside apt and am in the burbs and the waters haven’t arrived here yet.
Have you seen this– moving and heart-wrenching
Forgive me, I have a million things to get done today– Bkk will be underwater tomorrow — and the following days so am “emergency preparing myself” haha
My apartment is flooded (It’s just stuff!!!!!!!!!) I am thinking of evacuating to KL if I’m able — I’m taking care of animals now — gotta figure something out with them… (not mine a friend’s) I promise to be in touch…
October 28, 2011
More donations for Flood Relief from RPCVs have arrived by the time I turn on my computer in the morning. There’s also and finally a message from my Thai sister, Alisa, and I am so relieved. She and her family are safe, though her words are worrisome:
As you might have seen in the news upcountry Thais are very serious as the water level is very high up to roof level – many people are homeless and seriously suffering…. about 350+ people died.
Life is so very difficult here as everyone is scared, miserable and so very worried as we really don’t know when the high flood is approaching our houses, how serious, how big the flood is, and how long it’s going to be flooded. Water would turn rotten and people would have rotten feet or get sick some way or somehow. Big cleaning after flood for sure.
Please kindly pray for us okay.
I promise i will let you know how it goes na kha
I sit here dry in San Francisco and consider the long-term needs of the Thai people whose lives have been tragically altered by the flood waters. FoT should probably start thinking about a whole, new fundraising effort for when those Peace Corps Volunteer recovery projects start arriving. Next year is the 50th anniversary of Peace Corps Thailand, so I guess it is fitting that we be prepared to celebrate by participating in the recovery effort of the country that has given us so much.