It may not snow or freeze in Bangkok, but Thailand’s winter months still bring cold temperatures especially dangerous to elderly residents of the city’s slums.
Panthera Group, one of the country’s leading hospitality, law and marketing conglomerates, brought 1,500 blankets to Bangkok’s Khlong Toei slum, offering a warm buffer against blustery January winds.
Hayward got the campaigns started with a commitment of 1,000 blankets.
Within only a few days, more pledges came in for 300 blankets with funds donated anonymously for about 200 more. They were distributed in Bangkok’s poor Thung Khru District, home to 29 slums.
“A blanket may seem like a small thing, but anything we give is valuable to the residents of the slums,” Shanker said. “When they saw what Panthera Group had done, we saw tears in people’s eyes as they received their blankets.”
Hayward explained that most people living in slums don’t have proper houses and have to face cold winds blowing into area not shielded by tall buildings. “People in their 70s and 80s are living in shacks with big holes in the ceilings and walls with cold air wafting through. Old people were covering themselves in trash to keep warm.”
Hayward added that, when social workers came out during the day, they found dead bodies under the piles of garbage, victims of hypothermia.
Social workers say the public often dismisses the dangers of hypothermia in tropical Thailand, where temperatures in Bangkok during December and January fall only to the mid-teens Celsius. But for elderly people accustomed to temperatures 25-35 degrees Celsius or higher, even 15 degrees can be deadly.
Hayward’s Facebook followers said they were only too happy to help. “Every little bit helps. We are all privileged to live in this beautiful country and must do our part to help the poor community,” wrote donor Sasha Tosic on Hayward’s Facebook page. “Thanks to Panthera Group … for organizing it.”
Winter doesn’t last long in Thailand and within weeks of the coldest nights the sun heated the slums back to sweltering levels. But Hayward knows the cold winds will return and Panthera Group stands ready to bring more blankets to the needy in winter 2021-22.