Friday, 11 November 2011

Delivering mosquito nets in flood-hit Bangkok

Ratnasunder plays with her pet dogs at Bang Krai Nok Temple evacuation centre
© UNICEF Thailand/2011/Piyanun Kiatnaruyuth

Seven-year-old Ratnasunder lives with her grandparents and pet dogs in a former classroom at an evacuation centre at Bang Krai Nok Temple, in Bangkok. The ground floor of the building is flooded and the only way in or out is by boat. For a child who had to flee her home in the face of rising floodwaters, Ratnasunder seems happy and carefree. She smiles broadly and lifts up one of the dogs, squeezing it tightly.

Her grandmother Tongploen is more sombre. “We used to live in a single story house alongside the canal at Wat Po Ain,” she says. “We went back once and rescued some clothes but it’s now flooded up to the roof so we can’t get in. We’re comfortable living here but it’s hard to get out. We used to have our own boat but it’s broken so now we use the public boat.”

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Escaping the Thai floods at a Buddhist temple

Twelve-year-old Tang with his sister Ice at Laksi Temple evacuation centre
© UNICEF Thailand/2011/Athit Perawongmetha
Twelve-year-old Tang sits with his sister Ice, 13, in a ‘child-friendly space’ at Laksi Temple evacuation centre, in Bangkok. The children are making necklaces from beads and thread. They are surrounded by a mixture of squalor and beauty. Dozens of families sleep on mats on the floor of the temple, surrounded by their few possessions, while the stench of contaminated water drifts in through the windows. Yet above them, ornate pillars rise up with elaborate designs etched in green, red and orange, while golden Buddha statues look down from their pedestals, smiling enigmatically.

Although he’s the younger child, Tang is more talkative than his sister. “When our house flooded we moved to a school, but there were no supplies there so we came here,” he says. “The temple has given us some blankets but they’re not enough. Our family sleeps on the roof. We don’t have any mosquito nets so we get bitten a lot at night.”

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

A Bangkok university rises to flood challenge

A doctor checks Peem’s stomach at a health clinic at Phranakhon Rajabhat University
© UNICEF Thailand/2011/Athit Perawongmetha
Tired mother Gaew is one of the thousands of people made homeless by Thailand’s devastating floods. She waits with her chubby five-month-old baby, Peem, outside a makeshift health clinic at Bangkok’s Phranakhon Rajabhat University. “Peem has a stomach ache so we’re waiting to see the doctor,” she says anxiously, holding the boy on her lap. “We’ve been here three days. We left our house in Pathum Thani when the water got waist high.”

There are no classes any more at the university, which now hosts one of the more than 300 evacuation centres set up in Bangkok for people escaping the floods. University students and staff run the evacuation centre on a voluntary basis. At the clinic, they are supervised by doctors from nearby hospitals.