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living alongside coronavirus

Started by thaiga, March 25, 2020, 03:44:40 PM

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People's livelihoods seriously affected by Covid-19: Poll

The spread of novel coronavirus has lowered the Thai people's incomes and savings while inflating their debts, according to a survey conducted by the Suan Dusit Rajabhat University, or Suan Dusit Poll.

The poll was conducted online between May 12-15 on 1,125 people throughout the country.

Asked to choose between multiple choice answers, 25.16% of the respondents said the virus had cut down their regular income; 35.38% said it had reduced side income; 27.91% said it had lowered their savings; and 25.07% said it had caused them to become more indebted.

Asked what they had spent more on as a result of the Covid-19 spread, 68.53% cited water and power bills; 44.89% mobile phone and Internet bills; 40.27% food and drinks; 20.18% medicine, medical treatment and health care; and 14.22% donations and merit-making.

Asked what they had paid less for, 60.62% mentioned transportation and fuel costs; 42.31% clothing; 41.51% travel and leisure; 38.67% the lottery and sweepstakes; and 34.31% ornaments and perfume.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


London 'pub-on-wheels' pulls pints on people's doorsteps  channelnewsasia.com 


Britain's pubs may be shut, but one east London brewer has found a novel way to keep the beer flowing: By packing his kegs into a van and pulling pints on people's doorsteps.

Driving a white van with the slogan "tactical beer response unit" on the side, Peter Brown, the director of Forest Road Brewing Co., spends his day fulfilling delivery orders.

But rather than delivering boxes of cans or bottles, Brown fills pint glasses for his customers out of taps on the side of the van.

"It doesn't fit as much beer as our bar would do on a normal Friday or Saturday, but what we do get is the pure joy on the customers' faces when they see a cold glass of beer for the first time in six weeks," he told Reuters.

"The look on their faces is just irreplaceable."   

Britain's pubs and bars have been closed for nearly two months. Government first advised people avoid them, then demanded they close and on Mar 23 imposed a countrywide lockdown in response to the spread of the coronavirus.

Under the restrictions of lockdown, food and drink suppliers can still offer delivery services.

Even as many firms turn to delivering cans, last month the Society of Independent Brewers said many breweries were facing closure as beer sales had fallen 82 per cent.

Brown said he had seen strong demand for his pint deliveries: He was booked up until the end of May, and was investigating acquiring another van to serve different postcodes.

Customers are big fans of the service, and one suggested that Brown, who already delivers with a bandana over his mouth, should add to his outfit to reflect his superman efforts.

"The man's a hero, simple as that. Not all heroes wear capes, but this guy should," said Nick Bateson, a customer who is a festival organiser from London.

"Amazing beer, quick delivery, love it."

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Meet Rural Health Volunteers, the Unsung Heroes on Virus Frontline

As soon as a woman in her rural community registered a high fever, Auntie Arun alerted the local hospital doctors, who soon arrived in at least three cars, prepped to transport a COVID-19 patient.

Fortunately enough, the woman did not have the coronavirus, and the Moo 11 village in Nong Khai province remains free of the pandemic. Auntie Arun, or Arunrat Rukthin, 60, said she plans to keep it that way.

Arun is not a doctor, but a member of the nationwide Village Health Volunteers, known by their Thai acronym Aor Sor Mor – the unsung heroes on the frontline to monitor and protect residents from the coronavirus. They are also credited as one of the reasons why COVID-19 figures in Thailand stayed relatively low.

"We're very ready, every village, subdistrict, district. We know everyone, who's living where. We knock on doors, ask where people travelled to, and give our numbers to them so they can call. We distribute pamphlets about COVID and washing hands, and stick them up on doors," Auntie Arun said.

The volunteers act as middlemen between rural residents and health officials, conveying medical facts and doctors' orders to neighbors they've known all their lives. Their job is to knock on doors to check temperatures, as well as educating locals about hand-washing and social distancing.

"Some people are scared at home, so they call us, and ask us to come check their temperatures," Auntie Arun said.

During a recent news conference, government coronavirus taskforce spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin also thanked the volunteers for quickly reporting a new case of infection in Chiang Mai province.

"It is the ability of Aor Sor Mor volunteers in the area who took the man to test for COVID-19," Taweesain said on Thursday. "This shows how important local personnel are."

What is Aor Sor Mor?

It is possible to watch some Thai news channels all day and miss out on the roles of these aunties and uncles taking up their civic duties in the countryside, since much of the mainstream coverage is occupied by doctors, experts, and other Bangkok-based officials.

But the volunteers have not entirely gone unnoticed. Back in April, the World Health Organization gave a shout out in a Tweet and congratulated them for their work.


The Village Health Volunteer network was set up in 1977, after the Thai Ministry of Health partnered with the Japanese government to develop a primary health care system in all regions nationwide.

The concept was also an embodiment of Thailand's pragmatism. In a column, former deputy PM Wiraphong Ramangkun said the Aor Sor Mor was inspired by the Thai Communist Party's local version of the rural "barefoot doctors" in mainland China – despite the widespread anti-Communism sentiment in Cold War Thailand.

Each of the 1.04 million Aor Sor Mor volunteers is expected to provide basic health information to local residents, and coordinate doctors' visits to 15 to 25 households.

The project's foot soldiers are ordinary senior citizens in rural communities, like Pompaeng Phaholtap, 60, a volunteer in charge of 15 households in her village in Nong Bua Lamphu province. She has been working for the program since 2001.

Since the pandemic broke out in January, Pompaeng has been delivering prescription medicines from doctors to the elderly in her neighborhood so both parties can practice social distancing.

"Some people call us to visit their house because they want us to give them more information about COVID, even if they already heard it before. They want to hear us say it," Pompaeng said. "We're the ones taking care of everyone, from newborns to the elderly."

The People's War

While they are not trained to operate like professional doctors and nurses, the volunteers play a crucial support role in the country's public healthcare system by doing their best to prevent people from falling sick in the first place.

"We are only doctor's helpers," volunteer Phannarath Phanpong said. "We don't do things beyond our reach. We keep people away from diseases and help reduce the workload of hospitals."

lots more here on these heroes of our time  khaosodenglish.com

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Making ends meet  nationthailand.com
A jewellery shop owner has become a barber on a street as the Covid-19 crisis forced him to seek a new way to have some income.
Burin Ploywong, 62, owned a silver jewellery shop in a shopping mall which was closed due to the lockdown measure. He then decided to grab a hair clipper and ran a barber shop on the corner of a street in Suksawat 30 alley from 10am to 6pm. He gets 10 to 20 customers a day who ate drawn up his Bt50 per haircut price and it is not crowded like other salons.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


The long wait for handouts

Some 1,000 locals in Chonburi province were queuing up from as early as 1am on Thursday (May 28) at Soi Thappaya 5 in Banglamung district to receive handouts of food and consumer products provided by the Norwegian Seamen's Church Pattaya.

The church distributes 2,000 packs of the handouts at 9am every Thursday to people who have been affected by the Covid-19 situation in Pattaya, the famous tourist city that has been shut down to avoid the outbreak.

At around 3am, police officers from Muang Pattaya Station came to disperse the crowd as 11pm to 4am are curfew hours imposed by the government. However, a news source said that the crowd dispersed only temporarily and queued up again once the police had gone.

One of the villagers, whose house is located near the church, expressed concern that the gathering of the crowd could increase the risk of Covid-19 spreading as social distancing measures are not maintained in the queue, which is almost half a kilometre long. "Furthermore, their loud chattering is really annoying and kept us up until dawn," they added.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Help on the way for monks doing without alms

Prime Minister's Office Minister Thewan Liptapanlop said on Thursday (May 28) that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has assigned him the job of helping Buddhist temples nationwide that have been affected by the Covid-19 crisis and lockdown measures.

"The National Office of Buddhism has submitted a list of about 40,000 temples across the country that have been affected by the outbreak and lockdown measures, which are preventing people from visiting temples to make donations and give alms," he said. "Approximately 200,000 monks have been hit by a shortage of food and other necessities."

Thewan said he will send the list across to the Finance Ministry to come up with an estimate of how much will be needed to solve the problem.

"We are also looking at the measure that was used in 2009, when Buddhist monks in the three southern border provinces [Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani] had to go without morning alms due to security reasons," he said. "Back then the Cabinet approved a Bt100 per day handout to each monk so they could buy food and other necessities.

"If the plan is approved, we will possibly require Bt400 million to Bt500 million per month to help all affected temples. Money will be paid to each temple, which can then work out how it can be disbursed among the monks."

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Fabulous 103 helps the Pattaya hungry every single day

In addition to Thai local government and commercial input, foreign sponsored or backed organizations have been significantly addressing the food needs of perhaps 50,000 Thais who have been left jobless by the Covid-19 pandemic which has virtually closed down the Pattaya tourist industry.

The plight of Thais working in bars and the night-time entertainment industry has been well publicized, but the unemployment problem has also affected those employed in hotels, which were closed in April and are even now mostly under lock and key, restaurants, markets and tourist attractions.

Many charitable organizations have donated cash to pay for thousands of meals of rice or noodles, chicken or tinned fish and fruit or biscuits plus, of course, bottled water. Those previously mentioned by Pattaya Mail are Pattaya Hand to Hand and the Norwegian Seamen's Church Abroad. Private individuals include Swiss national Olivier Gachoud who is co-sponsoring 300 free meals a day until mid-June. But there are many others.

Special tribute should be paid to the Fab 103fm Team which has already raised over one million baht in donations and looks to be heading towards one and a half million in the not too distant future. Fabulous 103, a BBC world service partner, has been broadcasting by radio in English since 2012 and has in the past raised hundreds of thousands of baht for children's charities.

The Fab team has distributed food directly to the needy, but its main contribution has been to give supplies of rice, water and other staples to others who are cooking and supplying groceries to those urgently needing them. Organizer Thomas Robson said, "All we need is a photo and a copy of the certificate issued by City Hall which allows the authorities to monitor health and safety issues, especially social distancing."

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


UPMC Heroes without Capes ride again

The recipient of the final bag of food was a young girl of about 7 years old, and she was also awarded with her own brand new bicycle!

As we all know,the devastating COVID-19 outbreak has brought Thailand and the world to its knees.

So, the Pattaya Union of Motorcycle Clubs (UPMC)are continuing to do the right thing by keeping their shoulders to the wheel. Their good work is helping to ease the pain and suffering of the throngs of needy people that show up for their weekly charity food distribution at the Chaiyapruek Indoor Stadium.

On Thursday,June 4th, the UPMC held their fourth food distribution. Once again Ghost Writer in the Skyarrived with over 60 cases of iced down bottles of drinking water, which was greatly appreciated by the masses of people huddled under the shade afforded by the stadium venue.

At precisely 16:00 hours, the announcement was made for all those people that were holding their 'coupons' to line up and the handouts began, and once again it seemed evident that there were a lot more people than available food. Those without the coupons were left sitting and watching the others retrieve their bags of rice, praying that there would be enough left for them.

Yet again, a Good Samaritan appeared out of the blue, this time it was the good folks from Global Insurance Company who showed up with 900 eggs, while a group that wishes to remain anonymous, using money that was raised in Germany, showed up with another truck loaded with at least a hundred 5 kg bags of sweet Thai Jasmine rice.

A happy woman walks home with a 5kg bag of rice, thanks to the Pattaya Union of Motorcycle Clubs.

It still appeared that some may go home empty-handed, as there still seemed to be not enough packages for everyone.

But, you know the UPMC, they never say never, and out of nowhere appeared even more bags of rice, cooking oil, and tins of sardines.

The recipient of the final bag of food was a young girl of about 7 years old, and she was also awarded with her own brand new bicycle!

The UPMC has scheduled their next giveaway in two weeks' time, on Thursday June 18th, when they plan on doing their fifth food distribution as well as holding an auction of new and used motorcycle parts, new motorcycle helmets, saddle bags, and shirts kindly donated by various clubs in the area, and from other motorcycle clubs from around the world.

full article  pattayamail.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


8-year-old boy performs traditional dance for donations

A 8-year-old boy performs traditional dance Manora at a market on Koh Samui in exchange for donations. His parents are reportedly working as food vendors after losing their jobs in tourism due to the coronavirus pandemic. twitter.com/KhaosodEnglish
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Some Thais trust spirits more than social distancing

Kitsana Phattharasirisap, a spiritual consultant (centre), prays during a consecration ceremony for a spirit house at a new condominium complex in Bangkok, May 18, 2020. (Adam Dean/The New York Times)

These spirits were not wearing face masks. They appeared well fed, untroubled by the hunger pangs that have afflicted some Thais during the lean times of a pandemic.

But despite the spirits being so coddled — or perhaps because of it — the spiritual adviser accompanying them looked nervous.

These spirits, or at least the pair of figurines representing them, were too tubby to fit through the door to their new spirit house at the Baan Pitak condominium in Bangkok.

For the next hour or so, incense and incantations swirled. A gong pierced the steamy air.

Then, holding his breath just a little, Kitsana Phattharasirisap, the spiritual adviser, rose to his tiptoes and nudged the statues through the intricately carved entry to their new abode. Magically, they fit. A diet of prayers had slimmed them down in under 60 minutes, he said.

"If you don't believe," Mr Kitsana said, "then it won't work."

Many Thais do believe in such spirits, and Mr Kitsana, 47, thinks this may help explain why the coronavirus pandemic has so far largely bypassed the country. The kingdom has recorded only about 3,130 cases of the virus, with 58 deaths, despite having had the first confirmed case outside of China.

"Thai people respect ghosts and spirits," he said. "Every day we pray, and, you will notice, our country has not had many cases of coronavirus. The spirits listen to our prayers."

In every crowded corner of Bangkok, whether by a tin-roofed shack, a glass-plated skyscraper or a marble-pillared government hall, there are said to be spirits who need placating. A coronavirus lockdown is no excuse.

The spirits also require spirit houses, which look like dollhouses mounted on pedestals. These range from a few pieces of plywood hammered together to create a miniature bungalow to gilded structures with ornate spires that cost tens of thousands of dollars. The figurines, sized to live inside, typically fit easily in the palm of a hand.

Spirit houses are common throughout Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia, although the architecture differs by country. While not everyone believes, the practice is widely respected, and the houses are an ordinary and integrated part of Bangkok's cityscape, like church spires in an American town.

All these spirits expect sustenance such as a bunch of bananas, a cooling coconut or a mound of sticky rice. The offerings are usually placed at the front of the spirit houses in the morning by homeowners or building staff members, along with incense and garlands of marigolds and jasmine. Ants or rats may raid in the afternoon.

The spirits are not unreasonable, said Nongrak Puwasawadi, a self-employed spirit communicator, who enters a trance and advises people on the spirits' druthers. In times of economic crisis, they will scale back their expectations.

full article bangkokpost.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


With restaurants opens, bars closed, Pattaya bargirls transform into waitresses

With Pattaya's restaurants, market and food stalls now selling alcohol while bars remain closed, pubs have started adding kitchens and bargirls have turned to waitressing.

With Pattaya's restaurants, market and food stalls now selling alcohol while bars remain closed, pubs have started adding kitchens and bargirls have turned to waitressing.

May, 28, has worked in Pattaya's bars for eight years, but has been out of work since mid-March. But she still has foreign "sponsors" sending her cash and has been selling off her luxury shoes and handbags to get by.

May rode high for years, earning many times more as a bargirl than what other Thais make in a month. Covid-19 has been the great equalizer. With her revenue stream cut off, she's now looking at a life as a waitress, at least until the bars reopen and tourists return.

Thanet Supornsahatrangsi, president of the Chonburi Tourism Council, said Thailand will be making do with domestic tourists for the foreseeable future. The government is launching measures to subsidize travel by Thai families and medical workers starting in July.

That's not going to help May, but it has made her explore other ways to make a living.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


State banks to hand out free lunch boxes

A woman takes a free boxed meal at Lan Jarumaung area in Pathumwan district, Bangkok, on April 28. The food was donated by people to those affected by Covid-19. They could take one box each. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

The Finance Ministry has instructed state-owned banks to provide free lunch boxes to people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana said on Friday the government was trying to get the economy moving again, but nobody knew for sure when the pandemic would end.

The free meals to be offered by branches of state banks across the country would be just one more  measure to assist people hurt by the spread of the coronavirus, Mr Uttama said.

He spoke after meeting with senior executives of the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, Government Housing Bank, Government Savings Bank and Krungthai Bank. The minister asked they get feed-back from their branches on implementation of the project.

This was short-term assistance, he said. It was also necessary to look ahead, for ways to create jobs so people could have an income, he said.

The post Covid-19 economy would be evaluated later. What the government was doing now was to strengthen the internal economy, such as the 400 billon-baht budget slated for social and economic rehabilitation that would benefit communities under the sufficiency economy philosophy, Mr Uttama said.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


electric fence keeps drinkers back from the bar - pub landlord in Cornwall, southwest England, has devised a shocking method to enforce social distancing at his bar - by installing an electric fence.

When pubs and restaurants reopened on 4 July, Jonny McFadden realised customers at The Star Inn would not be able to act as they had done before the coronavirus lockdown if they were to adhere to government advice.

Mr McFadden says "a little bit of rope" would not have made much difference to drinkers' habits, but they take much more notice if they're at risk of an electric shock.

Despite early concern from his insurance broker, Mr McFadden has been assured that the fence is legal as long as a warning sign is clearly attached.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Cisadane River with extra hazard - medical waste  full article  channelnewsasia.com

Ratna, 23-year-old local, bathes her 6-year-old son Muhammad Teguh Sidik, as she washes clothes at Cisadane river in Tangerang, Banten province, Indonesia, Aug 2, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Willy Kurniawan)

For the residents along Indonesia's Cisadane River, the coronavirus has brought not just deadly disease, but also a deluge of medical waste: A constant stream of syringes, face masks and hazmat suits floating by.

The double threat for those who depend on the 138km river to bathe and wash their clothes comes as Indonesia has struggled to contain COVID-19, now with the highest death toll in Southeast Asia, and in the past week almost 3,000 new infections a day.

As the virus has spread, medical waste had been piling up at Tangerang's Cipeucang landfill. Then in May its walls collapsed, sending tons of garbage straight into the Cisadane's khaki green waters.

"I still worry to be honest, but I have to wash here," local resident Eka Purwanti, 36, told Reuters, as she did her laundry in the river, and children played on the riverbank, "I hope nothing will happen, although I know it's a deadly disease."

Like countries around the world, Indonesia has seen the pandemic bring a huge increase in medical waste, an issue that has raised concern in places from Spain to Thailand and India.

In the months since the landfill collapsed, Ade Yunus, founder of the Cisadane River Rubbish Bank, has been working to cleaning up the waterway.

"The first time we found medical waste was after the landslide," said Yunus, bending down to pick up a syringe and deposit it in a safe box. "In the beginning, we found around 50 to 60 items every day."

Indonesia's health ministry acknowledged the problem - saying 1,480 tons of COVID-19 medical waste was produced across the country from March through June - and admitted the country lacked treatment facilities, but was working on solutions.

"A new regulation has just passed that included guidelines around medical waste treatment in every health facility," said ministry official, Imran Agus Nurali.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Virus despair forces girls across Asia into child marriage
Tens of thousands of girls across Asia are being forced into marriage by desperate families plunged into poverty because of the coronavirus pandemic, as campaigners warn years of progress tackling the practice is being undone.

Child marriage has long been common in traditional communities from the Indonesian archipelago to India, Pakistan and Vietnam, but numbers had been decreasing as charities made inroads by encouraging access to education and women's health services.

These improvements are being eroded as the impact of the virus causes mass job losses leaving parents struggling to feed their families, experts say.

"All of the gains we've made in the past decade are really going to suffer," explains Shipra Jha, head of Asia engagement, at NGO Girls Not Brides.

"Child marriage is firmly rooted in gender inequality and patriarchal structures. What's happened is that it's become compounded in the Covid era," she adds.

Poverty, lack of education, and insecurity, drive child marriage even in stable times, so periods of crises exacerbate the problem, the charity says.

Worldwide, an estimated 12 million girls are wed every year before the age of 18, according to the UN.

But the organisation has now warned that unless urgent action is taken to tackle the economic and social impact of the virus – an additional 13 million child marriages will take place in the next decade.

In Asia, charities report the snowball of forced unions has already begun, estimating tens of thousands are already affected – though hard data is yet to be collated.

"There has been an increase in child marriages during this lockdown period. There is rampant unemployment, job loss. Families are barely able to make ends meet, so they think it's best to get their young daughters married off," says Rolee Singh who runs India's "1 Step 2 Stop Child Marriage" campaign.


Fifteen-year-old Muskaan says she is being forced to marry the 21-year-old boy next door by her mother and father, who are street cleaners in the Indian city of Varanasi and have six other children to feed.

"My parents are poor, what else could they have done? I fought as much as I could but eventually had to give in," the teenager explains in tears.

Save the Children has already warned that violence against girls and the risk of forced unions, particularly among minors, "could become more of a threat than the virus itself".

And while education has been hailed as the central tenet in the battle against child marriage, activists warn that with lockdowns forcing hundreds of millions out of school, girls in the poorest parts of the world will be worst affected.

Earlier this month, 275 former global leaders, education experts, and economists urged governments and organisations such as the World Bank to ensure the fallout from the coronavirus does not create a "COVID generation ... robbed of their education and a fair chance in life."

"Many of these children are adolescent girls for whom being in school is the best defence against forced marriage and the best hope for a life of expanded opportunity," said an open letter signed by dignitaries including Ban Ki-Moon, previously UN Secretary General, UNICEF's Carol Bellamy, and former prime ministers such as Pakistan's Shaukat Aziz, and the UK's Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.

In India, activists say there's been a surge in forced unions because families see the practice as a solution to financial woes caused by COVID-19, without realising the repercussions for young women.

"We have also seen children get married because the other party offers money or some kind of assistance in return. These families don't understand the concept of trafficking – it's a worrisome trend," says Ms Singh.


Ms Jha, who is based in Delhi, agrees the economic pressure is part of the problem but insists child marriage is complex, particularly in Asia where there are fears that lockdown school closures mean idle teenagers will turn to each other and damage family reputations.

"The biggest fear that families have is that (teen girls) may become close to a boy, start exploring their sexuality, or become pregnant. Honour is closely linked to this situation ... That's a huge thing," she adds.

She adds the problem has been aggravated as governments shift resources from key development areas such as education, family planning and reproductive health to battle the virus.

Indonesia's family planning agency has warned the nation, already home to 270 million people, could see a huge baby boom early next year due to school closures and dwindling access to contraception.

At 18, Lia is still underage but has already been married twice. Her first union was forced on her after she was seen alone with the man who was not a relative – taboo in the conservative region of West Sulawesi in Indonesia where she lives.

The community insisted she wed the man despite a three-decade age gap. She escaped that unhappy situation and found new love, but her dreams of a high-flying career have been put on hold once more.

With little access to family planning advice, she became pregnant during lockdown. Her family insisted she marry the 21-year-old father.

"I used to dream of becoming a flight attendant," recalls the teen, who asked that her real name not be used.

"But she failed and ended up in the kitchen," interrupts her new husband Randi, who has not declared their nuptials to authorities.


Indonesia, which has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world according to UNICEF, last year raised the legal age for wedlock from 16 to 19 for both sexes in a bid to tackle the problem.

But there are loopholes – local religious courts can approve such unions. Indonesia's Islamic authorities officially permitted more than 33,000 child marriages between January and June of this year, compared to a total of 22,000 for the whole of 2019, according to the Women's Empowerment and Child Protection ministry.

Indian leader Narendra Modi has also said the country will raise its marriage age – up from 18 to 21, but Girls, Not Brides says such moves are tough to enforce and do not address the root causes.

In Vietnam, the legal age to wed is 18, but UNICEF says one in ten girls are married before. Amongst ethnic groups the figure is almost double that.

Local charity Blue Dragon say they have seen girls as young as 14 get married and child unions increase since schools closed due to the pandemic.

May, 15, who is from the northern Hmong hill tribes, married her 25-year-old construction worker boyfriend in June after getting pregnant as the virus swept the country.

Her parents could not afford to keep her and the baby, so she moved six hours away to her husband's family farm.

"They're farmers and they could not earn enough for us," she explains. Now, instead of homework, she does housework and helps harvest the crops. "I don't think much about my future," she admits.

UNICEF says ending child marriage will help break inter-generational cycles of poverty.

It states: "Empowered and educated girls are better able to nourish and care for their children, leading to healthier, smaller families. When girls are allowed to be girls, everybody wins."

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Some of Singapore's Poorest Stay in Lockdown While Others Move Freely
With restaurants and malls bustling, pre-pandemic life is slowly returning for people in Singapore, except for the more than 300,000 migrant workers who make up much of the city's low-wage workforce.

Since April, these workers have been confined to their residences with limited exceptions for work.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Phuket artists continue food security charity drive  thephuketnews.com
A host of top Phuket artists will record a version of the classic global charity song 'Do They Know It's Christmas' in their efforts to help continue providing food to people still in need in Phuket and on nearby islands as the COVID economic crisis continues to deepen.

The project will be co-ordinated by Legend Music Recording Studio in Koh Kaew, owned and operated by producer and composer, and long-term Phuket expat, Gary Crause.
Gary was one of the driving forces behind Phuket artists coming together in June to produce their own version of 'Lean on Me' to boost food security relief efforts driven by the Help Phuket Today campaign, also created to help people in Phuket suffering without any form of income during the ongoing crisis. 
pics @ facebook.com/HELPPHUKETTODAY
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Still Hungry: Thousands in Phuket remain in need of food donations as government efforts stall
While the government maintains its focus on efforts to restart any form of tourism to Phuket, thousands of people across the island remain in need of food donations to get by – with no support from any government agencies.

It has been months since local government organisations have handed out food to people in need. A public relations staffer at Patong Municipality, one of the hardest-hit areas on the island due to the international tourism lockout, told The Phuket News this week, "The municipality budget to provide food is already gone. The last food handout was on June 20, which provided food to about 10,000 people in need.

"There is no budget to do any food handouts in the near future. We do not know when we will have any budget to help people in this part," the staffer added. Phuket Town Deputy Mayor Kavee Tansukhatanon also confirmed to The Phuket News this week that Phuket City Municipality has handed out emergency food supplies only twice, in May and June. However, he added that the municipality spent B28 million in doing so.  full article thephuketnews.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


U.N. food chief urges Bezos, other billionaires to step up to help world's starving
(Reuters) – U.N. food chief David Beasley called on the world's billionaires on Thursday to step up to help save some 30 million people he said are at risk of dying if they don't receive help from the World Food Programme.

Globally some 270 million people were headed toward the brink of starvation and WFP hopes to reach 138 million people this year, Beasley told the U.N. Security Council

"We need $4.9 billion to feed, for one year, all 30 million people who will die without WFP's assistance," Beasley said, noting that there are some 2,000 billionaires with a net worth of $8 trillion and several made billions during the pandemic.

"I am not opposed to people making money, but humanity is facing the greatest crisis any of us have seen in our lifetimes," said the former South Carolina governor.

The combined wealth of America's billionaires jumped over 19% or by half a trillion since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic in the United States, according to a report published by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in June.

In the 11 weeks from March 18, when lockdowns started in some U.S. states, Amazon.com Inc founder Jeff Bezos saw his wealth soar by about $36.2 billion, while Facebook Inc CEO Mark Zuckerberg's fortune surged by about $30.1 billion. Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk's net worth also rose $14.1 billion.

"It's time for those who have the most to step up, to help those who have the least in this extraordinary time in world history," Beasley said. "The world needs you right now and it's time to do the right thing."

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Temple's free vegetables initiative sparks saving spree
Every Friday, Od can save up to 150 baht on her grocery shopping bill by collecting vegetables given away for free at Wat Bang Khonthi Nai in Samut Songkhram province.

The trip is worth the cost of her motorcycle petrol because the vegetables she picks up are enough to feed her family for three days. Od is a beneficiary of a project to help folk save money through the practice of sharing. Od, 45, works at a factory in nearby Ratchaburi province. "If I get off work early on a Friday, I will drive my motorcycle 30 kilometres to the temple for the free vegetables," she said.

Od has managed to save the money she does not spend on buying vegetables. She saves money by estimating how much she would spend on vegetables and puts away the equivalent amount in a piggy bank.  full article bangkokpost.com

(pic below) A friend where needed: A family picks vegetables given away for free at Wat Bang Khonthi Nai in Samut Songkhram province. The free produce project has forged a sense of sharing and enabled some families to put away money for a rainy day.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Record hunger in the Philippines as COVID-19 restrictions bite
Daniel Auminto lost his job as a building painter because of the pandemic, which meant he also lost his home 
he is now living on the street with his wife and two-year-old child.

[email protected] (Photo: AFP/Ted ALJIBE)

Daniel Auminto lost his job and then his home when the coronavirus pandemic sent the Philippines into lockdown. Now he and his family live on the street, relying on food handouts to survive.

Charities are struggling to meet the ever-growing demand for food as millions of families go hungry across the country.

COVID-19 restrictions have crippled the economy and thrown many out of work.

"I've never seen hunger at this level before," said Jomar Fleras, executive director of Rise Against Hunger in the Philippines, which works with more than 40 partners to feed the poor.

"If you go out there everybody will tell you that they're more afraid of dying from hunger than dying from COVID. They don't care about COVID anymore."

The number of people going hungry has reached a record high during the pandemic, according to pollster Social Weather Stations.

Nearly one-third of families - or 7.6 million households - did not have enough food to eat at least once in the previous three months, its September survey showed.

Among them were 2.2 million families experiencing "severe hunger" - the highest ever.

The numbers have been going up since May, two months after the country went into a severe lockdown - reversing a downward trend since 2012.

Virus restrictions have been eased in recent months to allow more businesses to operate as the government seeks to revive the devastated economy, which is expected to shrink up to 9.5 percent this year.

For the country's legions of poor, the pandemic is just another challenge in their lives - and not even the most serious.

Auminto, 41, spent years sleeping on the streets and eking out a meagre living by selling trash for recycling. His fortunes changed in 2019 when he found stable work as a building painter.

That gave him enough money to rent a room in Manila, which he shared with his wife and their two-year-old daughter, buy food and even save a little towards their dream of opening a small store.

Then COVID-19 hit.

"We lost our home, my job. We even lost our clothes which were stolen from us," said Auminto as he sat in a park where the family sleeps on a flattened cardboard box at night.

Before the pandemic, he "planned to work and work our way out of poverty", he said. "It's for my family, so I can give them a better life, send my child to school."

Every day they join long queues of mostly homeless people to receive a free meal from an outdoor food pantry.

On some days the family gets two meals from different pantries; other days it is just one. Sometimes they have no food at all.


Five days a week volunteers at a centre in Manila run by the Roman Catholic order Society of the Divine Word prepare around a thousand meals of chicken, vegetables and rice that are packed into boxes and given to the hungry.

Demand is constantly increasing, said Father Flavie Villanueva, who runs the programme.

"We started doing this in April and began with 250 (people lining up). It increased to 400, and then 600, then 800. Three weeks ago it was 1,000," Villanueva said.

"The majority are still homeless but there's a good number who are with homes but are desperate because there are no jobs."

Hunger was already a major problem in the Philippines before the pandemic struck.

About 59 million people were "moderately or severely food insecure" between 2017 and 2019 - the highest in Southeast Asia - the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization said in a report.

The impact of the virus on hunger has been exacerbated by a series of typhoons that have pummelled the country in recent months, destroying tens of thousands of homes.

Fleras said food donations have soared during the pandemic, in part because many factories forced to suspend operations gave away their surplus stock. But it is not enough to meet demand.

"We might reach 200,000 families this year," he said.

Auminto said it was "painful" to have lost everything and be back on the street where he says the police treat them "like animals".

"They should understand our situation, not treat us like pigs," he said.

"We're already living like pigs." channelnewsasia.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

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