Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Press Release

Thai fisherman, a Crown Prince, and 50 Countries build a better future for villagers.

What takes a Crown Prince, 52 nationalities, a swamp, tools galore, a ton of hot dirty builders and the brains of fishermen?

The answer is of course the Ban Man Chaow village and it is now complete! Thanks to the widest array of people, classes and cultures ever assembled in Thailand. These fishermen had been forgotten after the Asian Tsunami of 2004 when the Governmental and Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) support went directly to previous homeowners, leaving the worst off worser off.

This group did not wait for handouts! They took control and banded together, created a co-op and attracted the attention of the Crown Prince of Denmark, NGOs the world over, and new skills the local people didn’t know they had!

The Rent Homes Group, established in response to the neglect of this group after the Tsunami by the villagers (fishermen) themselves. The results have been tremendous and with 50 homes built each for less than $3000 US each, no mean achievement! This project was built on the sweat of over 50 nations, not least the Thai’s who led every stage themselves.

This spirit of international co-operation with a Thai leadership has proved so successful that there is a project now as a result a new village in the making, called Ban Naem Cem 2. Here the first stone has just been laid to build a town which is again sustainable and just what the people want.

This project is about empowerment, the people here have come from nothing to earn something they can call their own. There are opportunities for people of all nationalities to volunteer and use there skills on the new town to build a better future for the poorest people who were affected by this tragic event.

If you would like to volunteer over the next year and want to have the experience of a lifetime, please contact the Tsunami Volunteer Centre in Khao Lak Thailand on our website. www.tsunamivolunteer.com or via email Sheila@tsunami.com
by ulla laidlaw and jack bradley
And a little commentary.......
Nam Khem is finished!!....anyone..? anyone..?

We wrote up this press release, because we thought that this mattered. It mattered that there were people still living in temporary housing after 2 years. Did everybody know this?? Was everybody ok with this?? I didn't know it... and I'm not really ok with it either. But it surprises me that "the world" doesn't know that help is still needed, and it surprises me that "the world" doesn't hear about the accomplishments either. About 2 weeks after I arrived, I went to a ceremoney at the boatyard - 50 fishermen received the papers for their boats. That's a big deal! It takes a lot to build 50 boats. And last week, we finished a village - that's a big deal too! My north american brain turned on and wondered about the media... there wasn't a radio station, a journalist, a video cam to be seen (only a whole lot of digital cams that the kids kept stealing and running around with). It would have been a wonderful thing to film, to show "the world." I had spent several weeks laying floors, building walls etc. on this site and part of me spent the whole time thinking it was a little bit dreer.... just houses, that's it, build on a swamp, with a dusty road between them. But the evening that we celebrated it's completion, the community felt so alive! Kids dressed up dancing traditional dance, parents cooking for the foreigners, and everyone dancing. ....but I do wonder why nobody notices... and it scares me a bit because Nam Khem 2 is starting this week, and the initial work is hard. Laying foundations for the homes, in the hot sun, on a piece of land with no shade. I've had a few times where despite the fact that we're all keeping eachothers' spirits up, there are moment when I feel like I need help. It's hot, it's late in the day, I'm tired and why are there only 6 of us here today? Can't someone else help to mix this cement... It's far from every moment I feel that, but it does happen, and in those moments I get a little scared at the enormity of the project ahead. We've got to build another 50 houses, from scratch... and I'd like a few more people to come and help out. So at times like that, I wish there was a bit of media who would still follow a story 2 years later.

And that gets me started a bit on other things.... because Thailand's doing pretty good! This town has really woken up in the last few weeks... the tourists are really coming back and businesses are happy. I'm complaining about 50 families in temporary houses (and I don't want to belittle that), but Indonesia was far worse hit than Thailand and hasn't seen nearly the same sort of response. (Which almost shames all volunteers here...why are we here and not where we are really needed). And then there's Burma. Which apparently wasn't hit. Which reported 60 deaths.... did the wave just stop on the Burmese coast? But no one can even go to help there. Hush, hush, hush about Burma.

No comments: