Asia has now entered our 5th month with coronavirus reshaping what everyday life looks like. Depending on where you look, it can be both encouraging and discouraging. We are confident that God continues to work in the midst of this wild situation to make Himself wildly known.
The Current Situation in Thailand
The initial Emergency Decree which brought Thailand close to a near lockdown was set to expire at the end of April. The rates of infection were on the decline so the government decided to extend the Emergency Decree for another month but with some restrictions being relaxed. These will take place in phases with ongoing monitoring and evaluation. If the numbers jump then the restrictions will likely go back into place. The government is posting lists of “flexible and strict measures”. The first phase of “flexible measures” begins on May 3rd.
- international borders, including air, remain closed
- domestic travel is reopening but individual provinces have their own entry / exit requirements
- those 5 and under or 70 and older are to remain home
- public schools cannot open in May as usual but must wait until July
- private schools can teach but lessons must be offered online
- 2,966 people have been confirmed as infected and 2,732 of those have been discharged from hospital
- in total, 54 people have died from the virus in Thailand
Like most nations, Thailand’s economy has taken a beating. The government has made big steps to help provide income for those hit hardest. Tourism, representing at least 20% of GDP, has ground to a halt. It will most likely take years before the impact of this slowdown is remedied. The desperation is real and local headlines have been filled with a spike in the number of suicides. People are losing hope.
The Current Family Situation
Our oldest two attend a private school and so we now find ourselves in the midst of online learning as quasi-home school teachers. We’re grateful they can continue to learn and we appreciate the structure it provides, but it is a lot and a big shift for them and us. The school is operating by it’s original calendar and so there was a 2 week break for Songkran, then we were back, and now we are in a 1 week break for a series of national holidays. School breaks have never felt more anticlimactic!
Kiddo #3 turned 2 last week and she’s simply thrilled to have everyone home. She’s active and so this leads us to moments of creativity and beauty and to times of emotions and destruction.
Our youngest, all of 2 months now, is lovely and we are grateful for the opportunity to learn her as a family. She has colic in the evenings and so our sleep levels are low. She has not yet received her Canadian citizenship, but we do now have a limited validity passport for her. She doesn’t have a visa yet. Bottom line – if things got wild (which we don’t expect), we could get out. It would be the getting back in that would be the challenge.
STRETCHED BUT NOT BROKEN
This is a time when we would call on our community to help us more. We feel loved. We do not feel isolated. Friends and family have made sure to engage and track with us. Friends here in the city have sent meals and gifts. We are looked after. There is just something about the newborn season where physical help and presence cannot be replaced. The ability to hand a baby to a loved one and then go and shower – that can’t be replaced by ZOOM. We were supposed to have family here right now and we feel that separation deeply. So, we are tired and busy and learning, but not broken.
The Current Work Situation
ChildCare Plus (CCP) Thailand is working hard to support the families of sponsored children. With the delay to the start of the new school year, we are delaying sending school funds until June to ensure they are used for school. We have used some of our funds to purchase food for some families. We are also working with ERDO to get food to our most vulnerable families. With easing restrictions, we do hope that soon our Program Managers will be able to see their sponsored children in person.
The migrant and refugee communities of Thailand continue to be hit hard. The Immigration Detention Centres are not open for visits so we are dropping off food and hygiene supplies. The 2 families we helped to get bailed out are a big part of our prayers, but we are not able to see them in person. We have also been trying to help with the resettlement process for two families, but this is a learning curve for us and it is proving to be a challenge in this time of a global shutdown.
Through one of ISM’s partners, we are helping to provide hygiene supplies to people in one of Bangkok’s largest red light districts. With few visitors, it has left folks there in a horribly desperate state.
Like any challenging situation, this crisis has pressed the vulnerable harder than others.
Thank you for praying for Thailand and for us. If you’d like to know more about how you can get involved, please be in touch!