“The government should come to see what support the community is seeking, if they are too much for the government to provide. What we really need is a fund that allows each of us to start a livelihood. We can do the rest with our hands and strength. If it comes as the 50-50 co-payment scheme, it doesn’t last, better to put money in career support.”

Ratchanee Paeseng, a villager of the Sa Ton Pho community in Phuket Province, is affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Previously, she was forcefully evicted from a land where she put up her house seven years prior.

Ratchanee moved to Phuket from Nakhon Si Thammarat Province seeking career opportunities. She was evicted from the land she settled along with many others, but later the group joined the Phuket Community Development Rights Network and participated in social activities. Supported by Chumchonthai Foundation, People’s Movement for a Just Society (P-move) and ActionAid Thailand under the EU-funded Land is Life Project, the community’s the land right issues were raised to the state and eventually a new Sa Ton Pho community was created in an area next to the old place.

Before the pandemic, Ratchanee had worked in a spa in Phuket, earning about 800-900 Thai baht per day. With it, she could live with little difficulty. After the outbreak, the spa was shut down, and income dried up. She was struggling to buy food for survival. Investing in a new occupation was out of the question. And because Ratchanee was a non-registered person in Phuket, she could not receive any support from the provincial authority.

Fortunately, the community once again received emergency assistance from the Chumchonthai Foundation and ActionAid Thailand under the EU COVID-19 Response and Recovery Project. On top of distributing relief packages, the project hosted a meeting where everyone could exchange and share issues, to find solutions together in response to the current and future disasters in the community.

Ratchanee reflected that past hardships taught that one had to fight to get through, expressing gratitude for the help and moral support from the Community Development Rights Network and the EU COVID-19 Response and Recovery Project.

“The help from the project made me feel better and strong enough to fight on. At least someone sees that we are here and doesn’t leave us behind.”

"อย่างน้อยมีคนมองเห็นว่ามีเราอยู่": รัชนี แป๊ะเซ็ง ชุมชน สระต้นโพธิ์ จ.ภูเก็ต
รัชนี พร้อมชาวบ้านชุมชนสระต้นโพธิ์ / ภาพ: สุริยะ ผ่องพันธุ์งาม / แอ็คชั่นเอด ประเทศไทย