Jun Pirakaew lives with her husband in a small house close to Mae Kae in North Thailand, near to the border with Myanmar.
Her husband is a day worker like many in the rural areas of Thailand. He is never sure if he will find work and his salary is hardly enough to cover the daily needs. The couple has an adult son who is mentally disabled and lives with an uncle in another village.
We have met Jun for the first time when visiting Mae Kae with Don Willcox and his wife Piranan. Don and Piranan have a NGO called “Foundation to Encourage the Potential of Disabled Persons” and have been working for many years with disabled people in North Thailand.
Jun is 60 years old. Since a stroke eight years ago, she cannot walk. Jun’s house is rudimentary and not at all furnished for a disabled person. The floor is made of beaten earth and the bathroom is 20 meters behind the house which is usual in Thailand’s country side.
When her husband works, Jun stays alone at home where she cannot move without help. Most of the time she stays in bed, sometimes her husband carries her on the porch where she can observe the street. She cannot get herself a glass of water or food, not even go to the bathroom on her own.
We have decided to help Jun and many people have supported us. The project consisted on building a bathroom with a western-style toilet next to the bed room. Further, we have casted concrete on the house’s floor, so Jun can move around in a wheel chair.
Worachi Intakaew of Mae Kae’s Community Development Centre has helped us a lot with the realisation of the project. We have worked very closely with him and appreciated him as a reliable and committed partner. He has motivated many volunteer construction workers, organised the purchase of the needed material and food for the participants.
We have been present during the construction and were amazed how many people decided to help Jun. Many volunteer workers have joint and the presence of monks of a close temple has blessed the construction workers and added good karma to the action.
We have actively participated, too, but less than we expected. There were so many volunteers present and our initiatives to lend a hand were apparently very amusing for the Thai. A couple of pictures of us working were taken and then the tools were taken back from us. We think that it is unusual and thus weird for Thais that NGOs actively participate.
After two days of construction work we had to go back to Chiang Mai. As the bathroom was not finished at that time, we have made the three-hour road for the third and last time on our little motorbike in order to see the finished work.
We have raised 192 euros for this project and took the rest from Omakua’s membership subscriptions. We really want to thank all the donors for their support!