Expats helping expats

CityNews – 19th March 2020, expats are beginning to come together to create support systems for the most vulnerable expats here in Chiang Mai.

The Chiengmai Gymkhana Club, the Lanna Care Net, the All Saints’ Church and the newly-minted Chiang Mai Search & Rescue are all working to create a social safety net where volunteers will help care and provide for those who may need it. As published earlier today in the report on the need for expatriate support, Honorary British Consul Ben Svasti said, “What also concerns me should the worst case scenario happen, though there are no indicators at all that that will occur, is that it will be the foreign residents who will lack support. Thai society has a strong social safety net, so it is important that expats come together to support our most vulnerable. I am talking to a few groups now about setting up a support system.”

CityNews met with Robert King, who has recently formed the Chiang Mai Search & Rescue organisation which is attempting to gather an army of volunteers who can help out, all the while finding people who might need help.

“First and foremost this is a 100% volunteer organisation. There are no fees, dues, acceptance of any monies, no tips and anyone attempting do so will be dismissed ASAP,” insisted King who is a former member of Calgary Search and Rescue (CALSARA) from Calgary, Canada. He was a team leader, medic and tracker with about eight years in the service as a volunteer. He is currently a paramedic and works back in Canada, going back and forth from Thailand.

“As we enter unchartered waters,” he continued, “I thought we could base this group on my old team back in Canada that has been helping out for ages and has been very effective with the community. I think it could make a real difference as Chiang Mai has a lot of people who may need help such as isolated seniors, people with compromised health etc…In the last 48 hours I have had about 20 offers to volunteer, which is great and the requests keep coming in. I can scale this up very efficiently and quickly.”

“There is a lady who has offered to care for pets for those who are unable to,” he said. “We didn’t even think we needed this service, but it’s a great idea. There are groups of expat bikers who have offered to deliver goods, medical supplies and food. Two expat doctors have volunteered to help. Everyone can bring something to the table. And if you are sitting at home panicking or feeling vulnerable, just get in touch. We will try to help in anyway. Reach out so you know you are not alone.”

CityNews has just put King in touch with the other groups with similar aims and we hope that they can work together should the situation arise.

If you have something to contribute – it can be anything, your language skills, your cooking, anything at all – then please get in touch.