Outfitted with a mobile grocery truck, the monks’ selfless act of helping anyone in need has encouraged many from the general public to support their initiative via donations.
With countries across the world suffering a monumental economic hit brought on by the pandemic, people in the lower income category are bearing the worst brunt of it, especially with extended lockdowns is place. In Southeast Asia, not only are individuals and families facing a deeper plunge into poverty, authorities in charge have routinely exacerbated the already dire situation further with myopic leadership, illogical policies and actions, and unnecessary political machinations.
Lockdowns implemented to curb the spread of the virus have cost many their livelihoods and they’re now finding it next to impossible to afford basic necessities like housing, food, medicines, and toiletries.
One country grappling with a surge of Delta variant cases and a struggling economy is our northern neighbour, Thailand. While the kingdom recorded an encouraging GDP growth in this year’s Q2, recent developments have placed them at a severe disadvantage.
Attempting to relieve the burden provincial families are facing, a group of Buddhist monks in Bangkok have decided to bring supplies to them. Reaching families situated in the far outskirts of the capital, these monks, along with a group of volunteers, travel in a trailer with supplies to help anyone needing food and essentials.
One of the monks, 28-year-old Pornchai Kabmalee, was emotionally burdened from witnessing the community near his temple — Wat Siriphong Thamma Nimit — struggle to survive without basic necessities.
“I can say our truck basically has everything that a supermarket has,” said Pornchai.
Pornchai and his fellow monks head out every Sunday armed with full personal protective equipment (PPE) to distribute goods to hundreds, and sometimes thousands of people per month.
The people they serve are allowed to take roughly five sacks of produce that hold supplies like soap, eggs, rice, garlic, and other staples from their mobile grocery truck.
“I feel scared (of the virus) just like other human beings, but to me, I’m more scared of not being able to help others,” Pornchai explained. Each week, mobilising the groceries to those in need costs the monks nearly US$1,500 (50,000 Baht), which they were paying out of pocket when they first started out. Thankfully, their selfless act has spurred the public to assist them via donations in order to keep the service going.
“This food will make me feel less hungry for a couple of days. I have been unemployed for a year and I don’t see my future yet,” said one of the residents, a former bus driver who used to drive Chinese tourists around the city before the pandemic hit.
“When people are able to smile again, that’s when I’ll know that the mission has been accomplished,” Pornchai said.
Watching from this side of the border, it’s lovely to see religious groups extend help to those in need without feeling they must also exert political control over the situation.
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