Lessons of gratitude from the slums

26 Feb 2021

A poor man from Bangkok’s Khlong Toei Slum donates three days wages to Australian bushfire victims.

Sydney, NSW: Australian-based charity Hands Across the Water, who help disadvantaged children and communities in Thailand, has made a donation of $7,060 to various bushfire victims and charities as a result of fundraising completed by the children and communities across Thailand in which it supports.

Mr Uthit Ngamkam is a 52 year old man from Bangkok. He and his wife have a daughter and son, and due to his poor health and wife’s disabilities they were unable to work, with the family living in sub-par conditions in the Khlong Toei Slums. As part of Hands Across the Water’s community outreach program, Mr Ngamkam’s home inside the slums was rebuilt in 2000. A team of 30 people from CT Partners, the largest independent travel buying network in Australia, went into the Khlong Toei Slum and moved the Ngamkam family into temporary accommodation.

The existing dwelling was demolished and a new home rebuilt over the ensuing six weeks by local community residents and funded by CT Partners. As a direct result of the new building, Mr Ngamkam’s health improved and he has been able to take up working as a motorcycle driver earning just 300-400 baht per day to provide for his family (AUD $15-$20 per day).

"I wanted to give money I earned from driving for 3 days. I kept it in a bottle that I made myself. Every time I received money from passengers I put the money in the water bottle. The passengers asked me, what the money is used for? I told them I will use this money to help victims of bushfire in Australia. When the passengers listened to me, they added more money to the bottle.” says Uthit. “Although it is not much, I really want those who have helped me to know that the poor from Thailand have encouraged the Australians to keep fighting."

Mr Ngamkam was not alone in his generosity. Across all the seven projects Hands Across the Water supports the staff and children undertook a multitude of activities to raise money for Australians in their time of need, irrespective of the fact they too are in need themselves.

Peter Baines, founder of Hands Across the Water says, “This is the not the first time we have seen the tables turned and those who are the normal recipients of the generosity of Australians, respond with all they have. After the 2009 fires in Victoria they donated and again as many Australian’s were brought to their knees in the most recent fires the Thai children and community supported by Hands Across the Water have shown you don’t have to have a lot to make a lot of difference.”

Part of the money will be donated to Carroll College at Broulee on the south coast of NSW, who were directly affected by the bushfires, along with a lot of families and children from the school. In addition, funds have been donated to WIRES Australian Wildlife Rescue to aid in the estimated one billion animals affected across Australia.


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