Last October, lives changed forever when the worst monsoon season in more than 50 years hit Thailand. Nearly 300 people perished and 8 million were affected. Homes were destroyed, hearts were broken, but the spirit of Holt’s foster families could not be crushed. In the face of such devastation, Holt took comfort in the inspiring stories brought to us from the field. Although many of our foster mothers lost their homes, they never wavered in their devotion to their foster children. Our overseas staff sheltered the families, and kept the children safe. We commend Holt’s foster mothers in Thailand for their love and dedication, as well as our staff who rose to meet the need.
You may remember this story brought to us by Jennifer Goette, Holt’s director of programs for South and Southeast Asia, and published in November. Jennifer tells the story of one Holt foster mother whose home was damaged during the monsoon.
In March, engineers began the second phase of flood response by conducting an evaluation of destroyed and damaged homes. The engineers will now volunteer their time and begin the repair of 20 homes for birth and foster families affected by the flooding.
Jennifer Goette, Holt’s director of services for South and Southeast Asia, recently returned from Thailand. While there, she witnessed first-hand the devastation caused by the worst monsoon season to hit Thailand in 50 years and sat down with a Holt Sahathai Foundation foster mother.
By Jennifer Goette
Bangkok, Thailand — Watching the floodwater rise in and around Bangkok in news reports these last couple weeks, it has been difficult to get a true account of the tragedy caused by the worst monsoon in Thailand in 50 years. Until my visit to Bangkok this week, I didn’t understand the true impact of the tragedy or how critical the work of Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF) has been for families dealing with dislocation and personal loss.
Since early October, HSF staff has worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of children and families served by their program. They have coordinated deliveries of food and supplies to hundreds of families using military vehicles, small boats and sheer willpower. They have relocated approximately 25 children and their foster parents to the HSF office, where the families have found safety, comfort and nutritious food. In many cases, HSF staff have continued working long hours, seven days a week, despite the desperate situation of their own families and homes.
One foster mother — relocated to the HSF office with her two foster daughters — sat down with me and shared her story….
I am sitting with Patchara and the Executive Director of HSF, Jintana Nontapouraya, as the light fades in the early evening and Patchara’s youngest foster daughter sleeps in her arms.
Patchara has been a foster mother with HSF since 1996. I can tell that Patchara, with her warm personality and sweet disposition, holds a special place in the hearts of the entire staff. Nearly 15 years ago, Patchara adopted the first child she fostered and has remained a foster mother with HSF ever since.
Patchara shares with me about the uncertainty families faced in the early days of the flood, when it was unclear just how grave the situation would be in areas around Bangkok. As the floodwater rose higher throughout Pathum Thani Province, the local residents evacuated to higher ground, staying with friends or relatives, or relocating to temporary evacuation shelters. As she worked with her husband to construct a barrier around their home, Patchara’s primary concern was not for the safety of her house or her personal belongings — which are now two meters under water — but for the safety of her two foster children. “They are my family,” says Patchara with a smile. “There was no question that I would continue to provide for their care during the disaster.”