An email describing the current situation in Thailand, from the CEO of NightLight.
Floods have been affecting Thailand for the last three months and the water, which now covers one-third of Thailand has finally converged to surround Bangkok and demand passageway to the great ocean. Though some have joked that Mother Nature doesn’t take bribes it has become evident that Mother Nature isn’t even interested in negotiations.
The “official” reports have been conflicting and seem to change every few hours. No one knows who or what to believe. To foreigners, the names of areas are strange and unknown creating even more uncertainty about what to expect and when. All efforts to control and hold back the water have failed and one community after another is inundated with 2-3 meters of polluted water. Sandbags have been placed somewhat strategically here and there but the images we see on the news mock these attempts as futile and suggests that a sandbag is of little more use than a pocket of sand at the seaside. (Scuba diving gear looks like a smarter investment at this point.) People have been warned, un-warned, encouraged and then discouraged, assured and then suddenly told to evacuate. The waters have not been so kind as to reveal their dark secrets in advance but prefer the sneak attack to breakthrough the vulnerable flood barriers.
According to a local paper, The Nation, these floods, which are the worst in 50 years, have inundated over 1000 manufacturing plants in the industrial areas and created immediate unemployment for more than 600,000 workers. More than a million Thais have lost their homes under water – some for over a month already. Over 340 people have already lost their lives. Resentment is high as the apparent goal of the government to protect inner Bangkok is not sitting well with the outer ring residents and businesses.
Thai people are resourceful, overall good-natured, and amazingly resilient but this is wearing down even the best of Thai “Jai Yen” (cool heart) values. The panic and fear has led to reactive solutions such as parking on elevated expressways or breaking down other’s flood barriers to equalize the suffering. The best and the worst in people is manifesting in this crisis. Attempts to adapt and to cope are at times a comic relief and at other times life threatening. Though one post office reportedly is delivering mail by boat (one boat) no one is home to receive the mail and keep it dry. Though a basin or tub creatively keeps one afloat for a visit to the neighbor it is insufficient for a trip to the hospital or in search of dry and canned food products. Food supplies are running out and the factories that have daily delivered for our consumption are now underwater or inaccessible. That of course creates panic trips to the store only to find that some people have thought ahead and already cleared the shelves. Imported expensive goods such as marshmallows and Hot Fudge topping are abandoned on the shelves in search of the more practical and economical. (Though my children might find this an appealing diet in crisis, the price of imported goods makes that prohibitive as well).
We have watched our neighbors to the north become inundated and now we have joined the ranks of people who are taking precautions. Four of our women live in areas already flooded and have evacuated and many more live in high-risk areas. If the government’s plan to control the dikes and water flow through the canals doesn’t work then the flood water may come straight through the heart of Bangkok. NightLight has begun to move furniture, electronic equipment, jewelry, and perishable goods to the top floors of our buildings. Last Friday we distributed packages of canned goods and Mama noodles to the women and staff. This week we have prepared our outreach center to receive any of our employees and their families who need to evacuate. A trip to the stores for supplies to assist evacuees returned with only a few bags of rice. We watch and wait and wonder who will be next.
Post Flood – Need for Strategic Restoration
While the floods are immediately damaging the long-term effects will be catastrophic. Once the waters recede the restoration process will require strategies and a vast amount of resources. The economy has not been favorable and jewelry sales and donations have dropped to a crisis level. We struggle to keep the women employed and to pay the salaries. With so many family farms devastated by the floods and so many others unemployed it is critical we keep NightLight’s women employed. Unlike many developed nations, in Thailand there are few social assistance programs to keep people living at even a basic level. Homeless shelters, soup kitchens, food stamps, and unemployment checks are not known here. There are not enough churches to provide adequately for the needs of communities. (less than 2% of the population is reportedly Christian) At this point universities are operating as emergency relief centers and people are donating and volunteering to make it through the crisis. Large relief organizations, NGO, and church organizations are already at work but the needs will be overwhelming after the waters recede.
We have the strategic opportunity here to bring healing and restoration in the days to come. This is a critical season for Thailand and it is the time for the church to rise to the challenge. We need your help to equip us financially to not only keep the women here employed, but to provide essential supplies and sanctuary, to assist their families in restoration, and to be a light and source of hope to the surrounding communities. With our help NightLight will be among those who provide hope and divine solutions to this crisis. God forbid that the red light area offers the best solutions and the only hope to people who are vulnerable and desperate for good news.
Will you pray for the divine strategies needed in the days to come? Will you please make a contribution to mobilize beyond strategy and into action? We stand on the brink of an opportunity to impact Thailand with the love of Christ. It is a time of devastation and grief but we have good news and we are here for such a time as this. Will you join us in prayer and support? If so, drop us an encouraging note or simply click on the links to show your support: http://store.nightlightinternational.com/donate.asp
With Gratitude and Hope of Glory,
CEO and Founder