The Bangkok Refugee Center closed its primary health care services in 2014, leaving over 7,000 asylum-seekers and refugees without medical support. Since employment for refugees is illegal in Thailand, they cannot afford health care. Tzu Chi Foundation and Tzu Chi International Medical Association partnered with the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), and initiated a medical outreach program to provide free basic medical services to asylum seekers and refugees living in Bangkok.
During 2015, Tzu Chi has been providing outpatient, preventive health and referral services; vaccinations for minors; and health education to refugees once a month. Working in collaboration with the Bangkok Asylum Seeker and Refugee Assistance Network (BASRAN), Tzu Chi provided services to over 1,100 people in the first quarter, the goal being to assist up to 8,000 by the end of the year. On the last Sunday of each month, 150-200 volunteers and a staff of 55-60 medical professionals gather at the King Rama IX Royal Park, and set-up a clinic and community space. Soon, the refugees begin to arrive, many waiting from early in the morning – an assembly of displaced families from 18 different countries in turmoil. In the first quarter, 185 children under age 15 received pediatric care and health education; 324 women of reproductive age obtained gynecological services and reproductive health education; and hundreds more were given general healthcare services, prescriptions (213 in total), and medical drugs (22,000 counts).
Those who received medical attention were filled with gratitude. Tzu Chi Foundation is “a very valuable gift from God”, said Nemah, a Pakistani refugee who brought his entire family of 16 to the clinic. After a year in Thailand, unable to speak the language or find work, he struggles every day to provide for his family. Nachai, a Muslim volunteer interpreter, was overjoyed to see how Tzu Chi’s love and compassion was “transcending religion and ethnicity”. Refugees were there to offer help as well. When a heavy rainstorm threatened to shut the operation down, Hatuh, a Palestinian refugee, jumped at the chance and he and his family of 6 swept water away from the electronics on site:
“We are glad for the opportunity to help,” he said, “This place is like our home.”
Credit copyright @ Tzu Chi USA