Samui charity battles to feed island’s remaining residents

PHOTOS: Sisters on Samui

by Ann Carter

As around 2,000 Thai workers have reportedly left the island of Koh Samui due to the Covid-19 economic fallout, ‘Sisters on Samui’, the island’s largest charity is changing up the way in which to help feed those remaining residents. Keyt Topcu, co-president of SOS, says the effort involves cutting out bags as the organisation realised that they could save over 500 USD by having those receiving aid bring their own bags.

“We hand out rice and other goods two times per week, but the bags alone cost 4,000 baht per week. If we cut out bags, we can put that money towards more food for the island’s residents in need.”

The first three months of feeding islanders since Covid hit included many Burmese people that were out of work. Now, those receiving handouts is mostly comprised of Thais as a lot of Burmese left the island after being put out of work.

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“Those that are left are the ones that maybe had savings and could survive without work, and they are now our main clients that we serve.”

Wai, a Thai mother of 4 on Samui, says she has been unemployed for 5 months and struggles to feed her children on a daily basis. Recently, she started working again but says the money isn’t enough.

“I only get 300 baht per day and my mother is 65 years old. It is not easy now.”

As Covid hit, many people on Samui have lost their jobs and have resorted to finding new ways to make ends meet. Mr. O, a taxi driver, now sells oysters and seaweed in a roadside stall after receiving only a few clients per day in his taxi.

“Now, many people have left the island after living here for 15 to 20 years. It is hard for me now to make a living only selling street food.”

“Sometimes, I get money and other times I get nothing.”

Sisters on Samui is continuing their fight to help those on the island who are still here but struggling. This Thursday, they will start the bag-free handouts in order to save plastic and money with the hopes of putting the money saved back into the community’s mouths.

“We have a handout at Chaweng Lake this Thursday, September 17, in which we ask everyone to bring their own plastic bags. Also, if you want to help the cause, we are accepting monetary and food donations. A 1,000 baht donation will get us a 40 kilogram bag of rice to give out.”

Apart from rice, the organisation says they need other items like eggs, noodles, milk, formula, vegetables, and tin fish to help stock their emergency stash. Yvonne Roberts, co-president of the charity says the effort to reduce plastic waste and spend the money elsewhere came about after receiving more and more volunteers to help the cause.

“As the operation slowed down a bit, we were able to logistically cut down on handing out bags as we had more volunteers to help distribute the food. In the beginning, we were trying to just get the food out as quickly as possible as it was a dire need.”

As tourists make up over 90 percent of Samui’s economy, the situation is grave. Sisters On Samui remains the largest charity on the island and has largely helped keep the residents afloat. To donate to SOS, you can visit their GoGetFunding page or visit the SOS website.

Links to GoGetFunding

Links to Sisters On Samui

Samui charity battles to feed island’s remaining residents | News by Thaiger

Samui charity battles to feed island’s remaining residents | News by Thaiger

Special guest writer, Ann Carter

Economy NewsExpatsKoh Samui News

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