The Floods United Us

My name is Sam and I come from Thailand. I am a Buddhist and I got to know Youth for a United World through a Buddhist friend of mine. Being and working with them, I saw how it was possible to be truly brothers and sisters, even though we have different faith beliefs.

In October last year, there was severe flooding in my country. The destruction was massive and incalculable. It will take a very long time to rebuild what was lost, because houses, factories, whole villages and cities were under water for various months in different parts of the country!

An extraordinary thing that happened was that this terrible calamity also brought about a great sense of solidarity among all the Thai people. It was an unexpected phenomenon. The country had just come out of a long period of political struggle which had at times been violent because of the elections. Perhaps you remember seeing soldiers shooting and dead bodies on the street. Instead, the flood reunited everyone.

The floods affected me personally. The water had flooded the entire neighbourhood where I lived. I didn’t have much to lose because I lived in a small apartment, but others even lost their lives through electric shocks. People rushed frantically to escape the danger and found refuge at a reception point.

Together with the Youth for a United World we went to help the people who had found shelter in one of the reception centres. There elderly people as well as children. Some had left their homes in the clothes they were in, not being able to carry anything with them. Some were in a state of shock, a few were seriously ill. It was a terrible scene! So, we tried to help in practical ways, but also encouraging those who were demoralised, giving out food and toys to the children and playing with them; we tried to share in their hopelessness.

The most important thing at the time was to help save the city of Bangkok, the capital from the floods. Students and many other people set about strengthening the banks of the rivers and canals and building barriers to divert any water that overflowed. We too went to fill bags with sand that was delivered by big trucks… When we got to the place where the sandbags were being prepared we worked day and night in the mud. The sand was dirty and stank: it was a real race against time. People came from all over the city at all hours.

It was exhausting work and we also had to miss out on some meals and sleep. The ideal of a united world kept us going. We built and repaired the banks of the canals that protected the capital of Bangkok, but even better than this was the friendships and fraternity that was built amongst everyone and which still remains. In the end the flood passed but what remained was the joy of having given of ourselves to build a more united world. This might mean getting our hands dirty in the midst of the mud, but the greatest joy was in giving and in loving!

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