As planned, we joined Lucy on a few projects she’s involved with. We’ve handed out food and drink in a couple of prisons. Prisoners generally only get 1 bowl of rice per day as the money allocated to feeding them doesn’t seem to make it to them, they also have no changes of clothing and no washing facilities and there’re generally 8-10 men for a cell which in the UK would house 1 person. We heard that the week before we’d visited an American had been locked up having been mistaken for being drunk when he was actually diabetic.
We saw a jewellery project ‘Freedom Stones’ that Lucy is managing which helps women and men to leave prostitution by giving them an alternative source of income whilst also training them in business management and budgeting. The necklaces & earrings are beautiful so once the website’s up and running, it’ll be well worth a look.
Handing out food, drink, clothes and providing some basic first aid in the slums here was very different to the soup run I was part of in Nottingham – mainly because there were loads of young children. Also, there was no moaning and trying to get extras. The Project also did a kids ‘class’ which so we tried to follow the instructions in Thai (much to the kids amusement) and played with them for a while. We were really pleased that there were some native Thais on the project too so it wasn’t another project where it’s just the rich ‘farangs’ (the slightly-derogatory Thai term for foreigners) dishing out charity. I guess projects with just westerners, even though they’re beneficial, can also seem patronizing and help to maintain a power imbalance (hence we didn’t take any photos of this ).
We also spent an afternoon at Mercy Children’s Centre which houses and cares for kids who are at risk. Later we did an impromptu computer class with some of them and joined them in their ‘play time’ picking up a few Thai words along the way!