|Home > Thailand > Field Report February 11, 2005
|| Tsunami relief field report: re-building a fish farm co-op, eco-lodge, boats, safe drinking water for a school, medical supplies and the list goes on...
February 11, 2005
by Mark Kirwin in Ranong, Thailand
Amazing! Your grass roots support helped us to accomplish so much for
Tsunami victims in Southern Thailand. During our short stay, we worked with
local villagers and school children, the director of Ranong schools and the
Vice-Governor of Ranong, as well as local businessmen and relief workers.
The hospitality and kindness shared by those that opened doors to us, so we
could directly aid the poor victims, was overwhelming. As you can well
imagine the government/ international aid was working well for those that
had a visible presence, but not for those that were under the radar - for
those that were so poor they did not have the voice to speak up for aid.
There were people like Chris and Lenny that met us, measured our salt, then
set up meetings for direction and of whom to help. And, Jada, who has been
working with the poor for years, trying to train them in eco-tourism so they
will not cut down the forest trees, who took us into the outlying villages
that the waves had hit, and showing us the needs of the people so they could
get their lives back.
After five days of meetings, riding in ancient Land Rovers to decimated
villages, riding small and large "long boats" - with extended props for
propellers that extend 10 or more feet from the boat- talking with school
teachers and fisherman, we found several projects that directly helped those
that lost so much on December 26th.
The first project was to fund the building of a fish farm in an estuary,
just inside the beach at Bin Bang Bang, where the Andaman Beach Resort we had
planned to stay at on December 25, is no more. The estuary area is called
Ban Muang Khong. It was here that the waves came over the tops of the
mangrove forests destroying the houses and the fish farm of the villagers.
We purchased all the materials for the farm. Materials such as wood from
Sarm Ram wood
factory to make the supports that would rest on floats in a grid, with nets
attached underneath to hold the farm fish and shrimp. As part of this
project, the villagers had a community meeting, where 35 families signed a
build the farm ( which they had started when we left) and to operate it
They are also building a floating house on the edge of the farm with an
eco-toilet we purchased for them that will not flush waste into the water.
At this house, they hope
to one day use as lodge guest house for tourists and help raise income for
We also purchased wood to help rebuild a fishing boat. The wave had
destroyed all of the boats at Ao Keay beach, only a kilometer away from
Bin Bang Bang. No material aid from non-profits or the government had come to
this area and the men were standing around aimlessly, without a livelihood
to sustain them or their families. So a meeting was held and it was decided
that one of the boats could be rebuilt.
It was here, at this beach, that I looked into eyes which were like wells of
so dark no bottom could be seen. A man in his mid-fifties was trying to
move furniture upstairs in his new, very small government house. He would
lift an item, walk with it, then look at it as if he did not know he had
anything in his hands, surprised and confused. My brother Stephen and
Richard helped him move his furniture upstairs... in silence... the deadly
silence of a home where the voices of women and children would no longer be
wave took so many along this coast.
We also gave soccer and tennis balls to the local children who were having
class outside while their school was being built because the old one was
destroyed by the water as most structures at Bin Bang Bang Beach. They were
so happy they had us join in a tug of war game, with many children laughing,
the true medicine of healing.
Our next project was to buy school books for 2- 3rd graders and two truck
loads of bottled water for the school children on Ko Sin Thai island. The
waves had destroyed 78 homes and killed as many people at this very poor
fishing community that had not received any international aid. We were the
first relief workers to set foot on the island since the wave ripped
through. It was here that we got stranded, unable to return to the
mainland for a few hours, because the Tsumani changed the tides and raised
the level of sediment around the island, making boat travel more limited.
On Ko Sin Thai the community water well used to be over 20 feet deep. The
crashed over it. Now it is only inches deep supporting a community of
roughly 1,000 people. Here we gave more of the soccer and tennis balls
(brought over from Ventura) to the children, as well as the water, books
and drawing supplies we had purchased for them in Ranong, Thailand. The
children were so happy, they could barely keep still and laughed and laughed
with huge beaming smiles. They wrote a big thank you note on 11/2' by 3'
On Ko Sin Thai, we gave the saws, hammers, construction pencils, and
the villagers that I had brought over from Ventura. The village chief took
inventory, had 5 other headmen sign a book, representing that the village
agreed to use the tools as community property. They were amazed at how
sharp the saws were. They told us that the tools would be used to help
rebuild houses and boats.
It was on Ko Sin Thai, that we saw many people sleeping under cloth tarps
hills, to scared to sleep in their huts built on tall poles next to the
beach. They feared another Tsunami. As we were shown the tarp camps, the
villagers brought over a man with an amputee leg. He had lost his leg 10
years ago from a birth defect. My brother, Dr. Paul, was able to connect
this man with the local hospital, a short hour ride away, but as if in
another land and time. Also, it was here that friend architect, Richard,
will help design the island a badly needed new school.
Finally, we were told by the vice-governor of Ranong, that there are 45
orphans from the Tsunami. All of the children are very poor and living with
relatives and family friends. 20 of the children had lost both parents.
The vice-governor gave us a profile of each child telling us that they need
scholarship aid for long term education.
So now we are working with our friend Chris in Ranong, who will be the
liaison with the Ranong Department of Education (the same people that went
with us on the boats to Sin Hai island) so that the scholarship money we
raise in the U.S.A. will go directly to the educational facilities to aid
the children. We hope to be able to post the children's bio and pictures on
a web site in the near future for any who have an interest in helping in
I can not thank each of you enough for all you have done to make this relief
effort possible. You truly helped peoples lives with your kind support.
On behalf of all of us at KIRF- thank you.
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© 20052013 Kirwin International Relief Foundation. All Rights Reserved.
||Most important of all is poverty alleviation, which is number one, and then the role of women. Women are very, very important in the development process.
KIRF's 2005 web video presentation of Tsunami Relief work in Thailand. Download the Windows Media Player file by clicking here. (PC only)
Photo of tsunami survivor Moken girl by Stephen T. Kirwin