On most days, 11-year-old student Jee helps her mother collect vegetables from the street and fish from a small canal close to her home in Thailand's Pattani Province.
The food that Jee and her mother collect helps feed themselves, Jee's two younger siblings, and their extended family — who, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, have found it difficult to make enough money to support themselves.
Originally from Myanmar, Jee’s parents work as part of the local Pattani fishing community, which has seen a sharp decline in production since the pandemic.
Jee's father, a local fisherman, works on a boat that hasn’t left the port in more than three months. Jee’s mother, who sorts fish at the same port, has also had little to no work during the pandemic.
“This is the most critical period for our family," Jee's mother said. "My husband is often away for long periods. My health is not very well and we are so afraid of COVID-19 because I don’t want to be more sick than this. The COVID-19 pandemic in our province is getting worse and I am already sick with other diseases. I don’t want to get COVID, too."
But luckily, Jee is a grade three student at the Raks Thai Migrant Children’s Centre in Pattani Province, a center facilitated by Raks Thai Foundation. Raks Thai, the local name of the international humanitarian organization CARE in Thailand, is dedicated to promoting food and nutrition security, economic, climate, and emergency support throughout the Southeast Asian country.
Jee and Her Family Get Urgent Relief
As part of Global Citizen’s April 2020 broadcast event One World: Together At Home, PepsiCo pledged $2 million to the World Health Organization COVID-19 Solidarity Fund and $5 million to local and regional response organizations, of which Raks Thai Foundation received $605,000 in grant funding support.
With that funding, Jee's family was able to receive a food relief bag, which alone fed her family for two weeks. Daily lunch was also provided to children at the center in Pattani Province, allowing Jee's mother to take a break from searching for food during lunchtime.
“Thank you PepsiCo and Raks Thai for helping us,” Jee’s mother said through tears.
With help from this funding, Raks Thai Foundation distributed more than 1 million meals to feed more than 112,762 people, provided ventilators to two hospitals, secured COVID-19 health insurance for 3,920 farmers, and facilitated the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
More than 700,000 Global Citizens took action during the event, helping to mobilize $127.9 million in urgent pandemic funding, of which 100% has been disbursed to WHO and more than 140 local and regional responders providing urgent care to vulnerable communities during the pandemic.
Access to Care Is Crucial in Thailand
According to the Thai ministry, COVID-19 cases jumped by more than 11,000 in July following the third wave of this year's outbreak, which started in April. Lockdown and curfew measures are currently in effect throughout the country, with flights and travel suspended between Bangkok and the smaller cities, specifically 12 high-risk provinces, including Pattani where Jee and her family live.
Jee’s mother also helps Jee manage a congenital illness. Every month, they need to get her medicine from the hospital, but her family finds it hard to afford the transportation costs, despite free medicine and treatment.
To pay for it, Jee's mother borrows money from neighbors.
Limited oxygen supplies, overcrowded hospitals, and low vaccination and testing have put many Southeast Asian countries on the road to rising rates of infection. As a result, Thailand could see daily infections rise to more than 30,000, putting many high-risk individuals and unvaccinated citizens at risk.
During the height of the pandemic in 2020, the Thai government issued a nationwide curfew and put a state of emergency in place, which included quarantine measures and mobility restrictions, impacting tourism, farming, and millions of people who already live day to day.
Many of those most impacted by the pandemic came from communities Raks Thai already serves. This includes Indigenous people and ethnic groups in the north of Thailand; underpriviledged women’s groups in the three southern border provinces; rural areas in the northeast; and, in the central region, drug users, sex workers, transgender people, non-Thai migrant workers, and adolescents.
Raks Thai Foundation has distributed more than million meals to feed more than 112,762 people, provided ventilators to two hospitals, secured COVID-19 health insurance for 3,920 farmers, and facilitated the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
For Jee, these actions meant helping to get meals to her and family for more than a month, as well as access to lifesaving care.
During the height of the pandemic in 2020, the Thai government issued a nationwide curfew and put a state of emergency in place, which included quarantine measures and mobility restrictions, impacting tourism, farming and more.
For millions of communities around the world, Global Citizen's actions mean another step toward escaping extreme poverty.
The $605,000 in funding from PepsiCo was originally earmarked for three activities — in addition to delivering meals, this included the provision of COVID-19 insurance to contract farmers and the delivery of two ventilators to hospitals located near PepsiCo facilities in Pattani Province.
Having underspent on the initial rollout of the program, extra funding made it possible for Raks Thai to expand the project to the end date of Dec. 31, 2020, helping to get meals to more schoolchildren as well as flood victims in Nan province. These extra savings allowed Raks Thai to help more than 134,790 total program participants, meaning that overall, more than 116,800 people received 1,270,157 meals.
Thailand's most vulnerable communities received a total of 1,615,997 meals in just under a year.
When Global Citizens Take Action, It Matters
For millions of communities around the world, Global Citizens' actions mean another step toward escaping extreme poverty. Into 2021, this funding is helping to support the world’s poorest and most marginalized communities as they combat the daily impacts of the pandemic.
You can join the Global Citizen Live campaign to defeat poverty and defend the planet by taking action here, and become part of a movement powered by citizens around the world who are taking action together with governments, corporations, and philanthropists to make change.