- Posted October 21, 2013 by
I'd like you to imagine your home. Imagine everything you own, everything you hold dear, your safe haven from the rest of the world. Imagine you're sitting comfortably watching TV when all of a sudden screams of panic and commotion commence outside. You run out to see what's happening. With no time to gather your things, in the blink of an eye and with helpless abandon, you standby and watch as hungry flames begin to consume your life.
The majority of people like you and me, who have the luxury of reading this on the internet, might be able to imagine what we think this might feel like. We think "wow, that's horrible" or "Oh my God!" but unless you have actually lost your home or known someone who has, I'm not sure that one can truly understand the feeling of devastation that is tangible. There are no fire extinguishers, and the fire is outside of their control. For the people living in the slums of Bangkok, this a familiar and unfortunate reality.
Slum areas in Bangkok, are characterized by hazardous electrical wiring, unsanitary living conditions, usually with no running water and garbage littering the narrow walkways. The houses are built less than 1 foot from one another, so, what affects one home certainly has impacts on the next.
A man argues with his wife, no one knows what about. Neighbors speculate the involvement of drugs, which, sadly, is quite common in these parts. Succumbing to a moment of passionate rage, the man fetches a bucket of gasoline. He returns to his home, only to splash the pernicious liquid all over the walls. With the flick of a match the house was alight and the couple in flight.
More than 60 homes destroyed, all for the sake of one instant of fury. No thought for another, just selfish relinquishment of the burdens of life. One act of miserly despair leaves more than 200 homeless. The woman has been caught but the police are still in search of her husband.
Terrible, though the story is, there is hope. Thai people are resourceful, kind and always come together in moments of despondency. Those who have been affected have already begun to pick up the pieces of their lives. With help from charitable organizations, volunteers and local donations, they have taken the next steps to rebuilding their homes and replacing their necessities.
Walking amongst the ashes, taking pictures for social awareness and handing out bottles of water is only a small fragment of what needs to be done, but at least I can begin there. Poverty is a major social issue, one that many of the international organizations try to tackle. We hear about resolutions and improvements they've made in rural areas of the world, but what about the increasing number of urban poor? Here is one voice, for them, for Khlong Toey, Bangkok.