Sat, 18 Sep 2021

BANGKOK, July 31 (Xinhua) -- At 9:00 a.m. every morning, Tassaneeya Visupakarn arrives at a temporary kitchen in a temple in northern Bangkok and starts her new daily routine to help those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a former human resources officer at various international hotel groups with more than 30 years of experience, Tassaneeya decided to leave her cooperate life and move to a place near the forest for an early retirement.

However, her dream was disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak as she had to stay idle in the Thai capital of Bangkok and wait for the situation to improve.

As the number of infections continued to surge, especially in Bangkok and neighboring provinces, Tassaneeya soon found herself a purpose to fulfill -- she signed up as a volunteer in May at a non-governmental organization (NGO), which supplies food and other daily necessities for people struggling during the pandemic.

Working in turns with more than 300 other volunteers at the NGO, the Up for Thai, Tassaneeya hoped to render the help she could offer to those in need.

"Everything you see here is volunteer-based and donation-based," said Chalermchatri Yukol, a Thai film and television series director and founder of the organization. "It's all about the willpower to help each other."

Recalling his decision to set up the organization, Chalermchatri said he wanted to help avoid tragedies like his friend who failed to secure a hospital bed after being infected with COVID-19 and passed away.

"There are some minor flaws in the system," he said, and he wanted to try his best to push for a change.

Chalermchatri and his colleagues got much busier, with new COVID-19 infections and deaths continually breaking records since the latest surge in early April, weighing down the already flagging economic growth.

The prolonged outbreak has led to an increasing number of people losing their jobs with many trying to find a new way to earn a living, while exacerbating the situation for those who have already been struggling under the poverty line.

In July, with the help of the main kitchen in the temple and several other small kitchens, the organization managed to provide 10,000 meals every day to those who have lost their jobs and could not afford food.

Besides relief measures from the government in a country known as the Land of Smiles, Thai people are extending helping hands to support each other through the hard times.

Chalermchatri said the organization has been attracting more volunteers from all walks of life, including journalists, engineers, chefs and housewives.

"There are lots of people who we have helped coming back to join us and help more others," he said.

Besides providing boxed food, the volunteers also took turns to provide information and answering inquiries on hospital beds and patient transportation through hotline setup. They are also working to provide oxygen tanks as well as other necessary life-saving devices to COVID-19 patients, especially those waiting for hospital beds.

While feeling tired from time to time, Tassaneeya has been deeply content with what she is doing and has learned a lot from other volunteers.

"Most of the volunteers have their own jobs, but they still take time to join us and contribute to this work. It's beautiful to share, so that we could have a better chance to go back to normal life," she said.

Although the outlook remains dim and uncertain, Chalermchatri believes the silver lining might just lie under the current clouds. "I'm quite happy that what we do has been quite effective as we try to improve things here."

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