Still grief-stricken and tearful, Wattana Chankrajang, told me how he sat holding his dying mother’s hand during her final night.
Wattana, aged 52, lived with his brother Viroj and his mother in a small house in a Bangkok slum, called Bang-Bua. Wattana and Viroj are ‘daily wage’ construction workers and, like millions of others, they have not been able to find work since the floods engulfed Thailand.
The brothers’ mother, Cham-nian, aged 78, suffered from severe diabetes, a condition which left her unable to walk. Because Chankrajang’s home is constructed alongside the Bang-Bua canal, which runs through Bangkok, his family, and the entire community, have been trapped within their own homes for much of the last month.
The waters have now risen to over one metre high, making sandbag barriers woefully ineffective. Water has flooded the entire first floor of almost every home along the Bang Bua canal.
For the last few years Wattana would take his mother to the hospital to get medicine and have her checked up every month but, with the floods blocking all the roads, her condition steadily worsened.
My mother kept moaning for the whole night. She had so much pain and I didn’t know how to help her because floods are all over the place
Just last week Wattana put his mother to bed, he watched over her for several hours before collapsing with fatigue himself. At around 5 am, his brother woke him.
“In the early morning, while I was sleeping, my brother came to wake me up. With his shaking voice he said to me: ‘Our mother is dead’ ”.
“I was shocked, I didn’t even know what to do, a few minutes later I just burst into tears. If there had been no flood I would have taken my mother to the hospital before everything was too late,” Wattana said.
It is not just my family which has suffered as a result of the flooding. Many people are affected and waiting for help and support
At this terrible time for the Bang Bua community, ActionAid Thailand (AAT) has provided two packs of rice and oil to every household and 10 boats to the community for public benefit. In total AAT has provided flood relief packages to 12 urban poor communities along Bang-Bua canal reaching 1,500 flood affected families.
AAT has also continued to support the unique Child Care Center project which provides art classes at weekends to children who have spent weeks cooped up in small rooms, sheltering from the flood. Moreover we’re working closely with the community to strengthen the capacity of individual members to develop community focussed projects.
The overall flood situation in Thailand remains grim. According to government reports, the death toll has reached to 602 people and two are still missing. The floods have affected about 3 million households and about 11 million people in 64 from 77 provinces since July 2011. [20 November 2011]