It’s incredible to me how everyday cliché expressions, can take on new meanings after certain activities.
On returning from Africa last year, each time someone jokingly asked ‘I wonder what the poor people are doing?’… I knew.
And now I know what it means to truly ‘slum it.’
Our mission in the Khlong Toei slums of Bangkok, was to destroy a family home so that a new, better, more inhabitable dwelling could be built on site for a family.
We met lovely On and her son Anon who lived in the ‘home’ and I use the term loosely, it would have been condemned years ago where I come from.
The lower floor was covered in a foot of stagnant swamp water and rubbish and had been abandoned for years. The only way to the upper lever was through a set of stairs unlike any I’ve ever had to navigate before.
On top of this, On had polio as a child and still carries a decided limp. Her son, Anon is suffering from leukemia and is currently undergoing treatment. Yet on each of his returns from hospital, he heads back to this home.
The family mattress was full of holes and cockroaches. There’s no running water, sewage facilities or cooking abilities at the home. It really wasn’t much more than a ‘roof over their head.’ The floor boards were rotten and termite eaten and full of holes.
And so we tore it down.
On and Anon are in temporary accommodation for the next six weeks whilst locals come in to build a new, entirely habitable dwelling for the family. Raised enough so the swelling of the Chao Praya river doesn’t leave part of itself behind each time it floods.
It is this that the funds raised by the 13 people sharing this journey with me go towards. The Duang Prateep Foundation in partnership with Hands Across the Water ensure that On has all she needs going forward. The funds we raised cover new mattresses, cooking utensils, pots and the furniture we helped put together.
It was an epic day. Busy, fruitful, emotional and in turn made us so grateful. We had highs and lows, but were so proud that we were a part of this great opportunity to afford someone a better life and grateful too for our own families and the homes we get to return to.
Next stop, the orphanages of Yasoton…