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Volunteers help the poorest to survive Thailand's worst COVID increase

Tun Nye, a carpenter, has been unable to send money home to Myanmar for two months to support his 11-year old son. This was after Thai authorities closed down Tun Nye's construction site due to concerns about coronavirus.

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Volunteers help the poorest to survive Thailand's worst COVID increase

He and his wife have no work, which has resulted in them being unable to earn any income. They are now living in one of the more than 600 worker camps scattered around Bangkok.

Thailand's most severe virus outbreak yet, lockdown measures in Bangkok have helped to reduce Bangkok's vulnerability to the worst. Volunteer groups are working together to make sure they survive.

Tun Nye, 31 years old, was able to have rice, canned fish, and other staples delivered by Bangkok Community Help volunteers. He didn't go hungry that week.

After collecting his supplies, he stated that he had been without money for three to four months and didn't have enough food. "And it's impossible to return to Myanmar. It's even worse there."

After clusters of Delta-variant infections were spread to workers in close quarters, the government closed down the camps at June's end. This further escalated a COVID-19 rise in Thailand. Many people lost their entire income and, while the employers were supposed ensure that everyone had enough water and food, many didn’t.

"You'd have one camp with a lot supplies, they were provided for and you'd walk 30 metres (yards), and they hadn't seen your boss in two weeks. They were then told to go fish for food." Greg Lange, one co-founder of Bangkok Community Help, said that they deliver about 3,000 hot meals per day and 600 "survival bags", like the one Tun Nye received.

The organization was founded in the midst of the pandemic. It now has more than 400 Thai and international volunteers, including Lange, a native Floridan who works in the restaurant industry. Lange has been living in Thailand for over 20 years and heavily relies on social media to spread word and solicit assistance.

Individuals, corporations and governments can make donations. Some people give food they have prepared, while others donate cash or packaged goods. The Australian Aid funded the distribution of rice in survival packs to the slums around Bangkok's main commercial port facilities. Apples were donated by New Zealand-Thai Chamber of Commerce.

Volunteer doctors and other medical professionals brought oxygen to patients' homes when hospitals were too crowded to admit COVID-19 patients. This was in the hope of keeping them alive long enough to be admitted to an ICU bed.

"We were mostly concerned with helping people get through these times with food supplies, necessities but suddenly, we were dealing with life, people were dying inside our arms literally," stated Friso, Lange's cofounder. He is a Dutchman who spent more than a third his 29-years in Thailand.

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