Despite businesses slowly reopening, the new normal still means economic hardship for many people in Pattaya. Local charity Hand to Hand is tackling this problem head on with innovative programs designed to build futures for local families and take them out of the food queues.
Scenes of long food queues became an all too familiar sight in Pattaya during the coronavirus lockdown. With businesses closed and tourists gone, thousands of people in this area lost access to work, and therefore the funds to buy basic supplies.
Despite lockdown laws lifting, it will still be a long time before things return to normal for these people. Overseas tourists are not coming any time soon, and many businesses will struggle to reopen.
For local charity Hand to Hand it has been an incredibly busy time. The organisation has kept up with its regular slum ministry visits, but has partnered with other organisations to organise food handouts and provide masks and soap.
“Now is the time to start rebuilding the future for local families,” explains Pai, president and founder of Hand to Hand. “Our aim is to help people become financially independent and have the skills to support their community in the long term.”
The first of such projects is the Hand to Hand furniture making business. The charity was lucky to be donated 150 wooden pallets as well as tools from Bosch. Once the pallets were dismantled, a skilled carpenter living in the Hand to Hand community housing taught the younger residents how to build furniture. The pieces they made range from small storage to beautiful hand painted bench seats and with each sale, the maker receives the profit.
Skills have also been blooming with the Hand to Hand gardening project. The community housing owned by Hand to Hand has a large garden area, and this space has been used to teach community members to grow edible plants and flowers. What started as a project to feed the community, has become a social enterprise where people learn to grow and harvest the plants to sell at the local market.
“The project grew further when we partnered with students from local schools to distribute seedlings to the local slum areas,” says Pai. “We want to teach people gardening skills so they can transform their own plots of land into a place they can profit from.”
The most recent projects involve craft skills. Hand to Hand employed 12 local women during the Covid19 crisis to make masks. The women had not done sewing before, but now produce over 40 masks a week which are handed out during slum visits. The women are paid for the masks they made, and can use their new skills for future tailoring work. Another group of women are learning to make beautiful bead key chains – these could be sold on any street market and should be a popular gift for Mother’s Day.
“If you support Hand to Hand, you are supporting our work to teach people new skills,” says Pai. “We love the families we help, but ultimately we want them to be able to help themselves. We want to see them happy and independent and strong.”
Support Hand to Hand’s latest appeal on their website: http://www.handtohandpattaya.com/
For more information please call Khun Pai on 0870629304. (Hand to Hand)