BANGKOK, May 23 — Vikram Arunagiri, a Malaysian and owner of alcohol retail and experience company Gulp, is doing his bit to help the needy here — by starting a charity drive to help the underprivileged in the Khlong Toei slum.
The 33-year-old started the charity drive by providing food packs to slum dwellers impacted by Covid-19 during the latest outbreak which started in early April.
“With just one small bowl of hot food, it gives them hope that there will definitely be a better day,” said Vikram.
He also shared by recalling a moment when his staff told him about the volunteers in Khlong Toei slum in need of personal protection equipment (PPE) to make arrangement for Covid-19 patients to receive treatment at hospital.
Besides that, his staff also informed him about family members of Covid-19 patients who undergo 14-day self-quarantine at their tiny home without food.
“These people live from hand to mouth. When they undergo home quarantine for 14 days, they are out of work.
“We decided to provide them with food packs. The wives of staff members agreed to cook for them.
“We do this as our staff are all from Khlong Toei community. We believe charity starts from home. It may not be our home, but these are the people who make our home safer, better and cleaner,” he told Bernama.
Khlong Toei, Bangkok’s largest slum and home to about 90,000 to 100,000 people, is mostly made up of low-and middle-income rural migrants. Many of them work as security guards, cleaners, motorcycle taxi drivers, salesperson, or doing odd jobs at nearby wet market, shopping malls or port.
They stay in a one-room homes, making social distancing impossible.
In the latest outbreak that started in early April, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) said health authorities conducted about 34,130 Covid-19 tests in 39 risk communities in Khlong Toei, and so far more than 1,555 people tested positive.
Vikram said the initiative that began in early April is providing at least 200 meals per day — 100 meals for lunch and another 100 for dinner.
The food is prepared at the office in Sukhumvit and the meals are delivered starting at 12 noon (local time) and 5pm every day.
However, realising his outreach is limited, he posted of his endeavour on Facebook. Soon, cash donation as well as essentials items such as noodles, canned food, rice and mineral water poured in.
“The response was overwhelming. Some days, the number hits 1,000 meals.
“We also pay 30 baht to any local food shops and neighbourhood restaurants to provide meals to the people. We hope through this initiative, we can help these food shops and restaurants impacted by Covid-19 outbreak,” he said.
Vikram added that his team is also distributing mask and hand sanitisers to slum dwellers.
“A kind-hearted individual also donated four tents with anti-bacteria spray to be installed at the entrance at lock 1, 2, and 3 in Khlong Toei, which will cut infection rate by 30 per cent,” he said.
Like others, Vikram hopes the Covid-19 pandemic will end soon and life will return to normal.
“Mass vaccination will prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Khlong Toei community,” he said. — Bernama