Homeless Community and the Summer Heat

Posted: March 22, 2015 in Thailand
Tags: , ,

The meltdown in Thailand’s capital, with the blistering heat and humidity swallowing the elites, the bourgeois and the working class. The homeless are the most vulnerable in Bangkok’s population, thanks to the blatant neglect by city hall. The homeless, ostracised by the social pyramid, face the elements with some experience but with no resources to protect them.

Out of Sight

Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has yet again failed to mobilise NGOs, and has done nothing to develop social protection mechanism for the marginalized, homeless population. Urban poverty in the city seems to escalate in these uncertain times, and what more of unchecked urbanisation.

People who are homeless have been around for ages, and their existence did not materialise with the coup of 2014.

Yet under the junta, the homeless community has increased dramatically, particularly with the influx of (illegal) migrants, stateless people and refugees. No “roadmap” on improving quality of life for the poor, and no national action plan to reduce poverty. Seems the authorities are occupied with controlling the population, but then again Thailand is still under martial law.

Based on outreach, I’ve noted some issues affecting the homeless, something of importance to me but naturally one that is commonly ignored by society at large:


Among many factors in homelessness, the elderly wandering the streets are treated with some charity, of coins and 20 baht notes. There’s no societal understanding of chronic health conditions among the urban poor and the socially marginalized. This societal apathy or indifference could be blamed on the “Thainess” of the population, or the resignation to their Buddhist-infused karma. Either way, societal reaction to homelessness is often tokenism, and a quick opportunity to earn brownie-points for the afterlife.

What the NGOs and department of public health can do, is to prioritize the homeless people, which naturally should incorporate resources, funding and sustainable programs. The only program which is truly reaching out to the homeless is the soup kitchen “Food for Friends” and completely managed by concerned volunteers. However they have limited resources and Bangkok is a colossal city with increasing social problems. Anyway, accessibility, across the homelessness spectrum, to health care, housing, and such should go on the top of service-providers’ list. Programs need to be designed as rights-based, and assertive outreach done to cover the countless back lanes of Bangkok.

I grow weary, as the humidity further saps my strength, of the experiences and of the political fuckery of self-induced ignorance.


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