(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries within the Thai province, in cooperation with the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and the Sisters of Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, have responded to the needs of people affected by heavy rains and flooding in the southern provinces of Thailand. A news report from the BBC indicates that at least 12 people have died and hundreds of thousands of people have been affected, with many villages submerged and water levels reaching “roof-high” in some areas.
Beginning in September 2016, an unusually active monsoon season drenched the central and northern parts of the country, unleashing raging waters across more than 20 provinces and killing an estimated 350 men, women and children. These recent rains, deemed “the worst in 30 years” by Thailand’s prime minister, pummeled the southern part of the country triggering devastating mudslides and wreaking significant havoc on roads, bridges and railway lines. According to the United Nations, more than 2.5 million people have been affected by the relentless storms.
The flash flooding has also knocked out electric lines and damaged hundreds of schools. The Salesian joint relief team has recently traveled to visit affected areas and distributed hundreds of food and emergency kits for the suffering families in the area. The team focused most of its relief efforts in Bang Saphan and Nakhon Si Thammarat provinces. Other Salesian missionaries including Father Enrico Danieli, parish priest of Our Lady Church and Father Rossignolo Renzo, parish priest of Saint Dominic Savio Church, live and work in the affected areas and are doing what they can to provide assistance.
“Salesian missionaries were able to immediately assess the situation on the ground and move into action providing assistance and relief,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Our programs are helping to provide food, clothing and shelter to those in need and missionaries will remain in the areas through the long recovery process helping the many affected families.”
Thailand has shown considerable economic growth over the last 20 years, reducing the poverty rate from 21 percent in 2000 to 10.9 percent where it currently stands now, according to the World Bank. Although the country has made strides in reducing poverty, improving nutrition and meeting basic needs of its residents, inequality is still pervasive. One of the more marginalized groups in the country is people with disabilities. Men, women and children with disabilities have been cast aside and perceived as incapable of engaging in meaningful work and leading productive lives. Often those with disabilities, particularly those with visual impairments, are kept out of school and denied an education. As a result, their future employment prospects are diminished and the cycle of poverty continues.
Salesian programs in Thailand focus on education and workforce development in partnership with social development services that work to meet the basic needs of youth and their families living in poverty within the country. Addressing the needs of persons with visual impairments, Salesian Father Carlo Verlado has been the director of the Nonthaburi Skills Development Center for the Blind in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, and has been providing skills training and workforce development services to the people who are blind for more than 40 years.
World Bank – Thailand