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International Partnerships

Learning and giving during the COVID-19 response in Thailand

Boonthae Pinthong: A villager in Hua Hin's marginalized community, who needed immediate relief and access to information for herself and her community

"In the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak no one came to my community and told us what to do. It was only when we went out to the market or the hospital that they told us to wear masks and wash our hands all the time."

Boonthae Pinthong lives alone in a small village named Nong Sai, near Hua Hin Hospital number 5. Sometimes, she is visited by her child who lives next door.

Before the epidemic, Boonthae earned around 5,000 - 6,000 Baht per month from working on a pineapple farm, enough for her to live on. With the pandemic, her working hours decreased.

Today, she only works a few days a week, and as a result, earns less. Boonthae says that she received three-month compensation from the government and some local relief packages, but importantly, no healthcare information to help protect herself and her community.

She has learned more, for example how to make hand sanitizer, when attending activities organised by the larger neighbouring community.

COVI response in Hua Hin, thailand

Boonthae says that if possible, she would like to receive food and supplies so that she could sustain her life during this period. She is very grateful that the EU Covid-19 Response and Recovery Project in Thailand has paid attention to her community and come to help them.

KwanJai Ngerntab: Affected by Covid-19, she didn’t give up but turned herself into a volunteer, inspiring people in the same situation

"One of the worst cases was that a man sent me a message through Facebook inbox. He told me that he lost his job because of the Covid-19 outbreak. He did not have money to buy food and wanted to commit suicide. After reading the message, I gave him advice that everyone was born without anything. Things we earned were just profitable of life. If he survives today, he will be able to earn things again. My message motivated him to understand the principle of living. From a man who wanted to die at that time, he decided to stand up and become a volunteer helping those affected by the outbreak with me."

10 years ago, KwanJai Ngerntab, or Koi, came to look for a better life in Hua Hin. Today, she has a taxi driver agency, especially for foreigners, and owns a small restaurant and apartment, which she rents to foreigners.

But after the Covid-19 outbreak, the number of tourists in Hua Hin went down, and Koi lost her income. Still, on meeting many people who had no money to buy food, she decided to start packing small relief packages on her own. She distributed them to people nearby, promoting her activity through Facebook Live.

One day, a group of foreigners came to her house to compliment her and to support her activity. They invited her to join the Sang Foundation, and she decided to become one of its volunteers.

Koi says that she is willing to continue being a part-time volunteer in future, too, because she believes in Thai people. “Although those affected by the outbreak are not my family, we are all Thais, so we should help each other.”

COVID response in Hua Hin

About the programme

The EU COVID-19 Response and Recovery in Thailand programme has three key components: immediate relief for households impacted by the outbreak; a sustainable social and economic recovery through the improvement of the livelihood of affected communities; and building the communities’ resilience so that they can thrive and withstand future challenges.

The programme’s nationwide project is led by ActionAid Thailand in collaboration with the Chumchon Thai Foundation, the Foundation for Labour and Employment Promotion (HOMENET) and the BioThai Foundation. The intervention covers almost 40 provinces in Thailand and works with affected sectors including migrant and informal workers, marginalised populations and children, about half of whom are women.