WWC Aids Thai Tsunami Victims
We went almost six months after the tsunami occurred, and you could still see the effects of it throughout the area, says Howard Vandermark, a chaplain at Ekamai International School (EIS) in Thailand and 2004 theology graduate.
Vandermark, and a small group of staff and students from EIS and Adventist Development and Relief Agency in Thailand, presented more than 268,000 Baht, or Thai currency, to a school affected by the tsunami that struck the coast of Thailand, and many other countries, last December. That money, about $6,600 in U.S. dollars, was collected by EIS, and faculty, staff, and students at WWC, enabling the school to purchase school supplies and uniforms for 185 children at the Khura Buri School. While the school itself was not affected by the tsunami, many children lost their homes, and their parents lost their livelihood. Many now reside in temporary housing provided by the Thai government.
An EIS student gives a new, fuzzy friend to a young sea gypsy.
Many of the students at EIS come from wealthy families in Bangkok, yet they still sympathize with the victims of the Tsunami. They really have hearts for community service, says Marklynn Bazzy, a teacher at EIS and 1991 mass communications graduate. Although I could not take all the students, it was important that the ones who did go, got a chance to help others who are not as fortunate as they are.
While at the Khura Buri School, the EIS students spent time with the students, playing games with them. Visiting the South helped me to realize that there are still many tsunami victims who need help. Some of the villages are located in remote areas where help could not reach them. This trip assured me that giving without expecting a return is true happiness, says Thian Thiumsak, a senior at EIS.
The group also visited a local Buddhist temple where many sea gypsies were living out in tents. The nomad sea gypsies spend much of the year fishing and living in their long wooden boats and camping on the beach the rest of the time. Now, however, most are too frightened to return to the water for fear that another tsunami will come. Because the sea gypsies are not considered Thai nationals, they were not allowed to move into the newly constructed houses that serve as temporary homes for Thai citizens. They are only able to live in tents provided by the Red Crescent Society in Iran. But the sea gypsies have been told they cant stay on the temple grounds forever and will soon be forced to return to the sea.
Even though I live only 12 hours from where the tsunami hit and saw the pictures on the television, to actually see people living in temporary housing and the devastated coastline, has only made the tsunami more real to me, says Bazzy. W