Don't Look; Poverty Approaching

There were attempts at improving quality of life for marginalized communities. That was in the past. Ever since the coup of 2014 and the overbearing presence of the junta, many 'mainstream' NGOs and welfare services have been visibly absent from the equation of social support. And what of past initiatives of open participatory mechanism to collectively provide transparent services? Well that's no where to be seen. Accountability? Poof - that's gone too.

News of small protests, political purge, detention, media restrictions, internet surveillance, and scandalous headlines have dominated the attention span of Thais and foreigners. There's obviously a neglect on addressing the negative impact of poverty, perhaps due to societal apathy or maybe its not trendy enough for sensible politicians and the academic circles.

Sadly the welfare system is invisible. 

Vulnerable communities often do not know where to seek support, and some groups, like the homeless, are stereotyped as hopelessly lazy or just seen as a lost cause.

The stifling bureaucracy, with its onion-layered complexities, within the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security prevents most-at-risk population from approaching them. Accessibility to social services is at times determined by societal knee-jerk reaction, which is rare of course, or when officials feel a need to head a public relation exercise to boost their career advancement prospects.

What about sustainable collaborative programs for the urban and rural poor? Is the junta, or even local NGOs, advocating for an improved quality of life for the poor and ostracised? Is there a national plan of action with long-term funding and rights-based strategies? Are marginalized communities involved in the planning and implementation of such programs?

Or maybe Thai society just don't care.

A homeless man in Soi St. Louis, Sathorn district. For money, he sometimes wash dishes at the street eateries, and residents tend to ignore him. Some call him a "ghost from Khmer".

A homeless man at the road along the Chong Nonsi canal. Everyday he scavenges for plastic, bottles and anything useful to sell to the dealers of recycled goods. He joked to me, the pavement is his office and home. 

A homeless woman with mental disability. A community-based outreach program, of the Mirror Foundation, said she was attacked by a group of men. Image from Mirror Foundation's Facebook.

A homeless pregnant woman at Siam Square. Image from Mirror Foundation's Facebook.



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