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Thailand has a tropical climate, leaving the country vulnerable to the threat of floods during its monsoon season. In 2011, Thailand experienced its worst floods in half a century. The floods were triggered by tropical storms and heavy monsoon rains. The phenomenon “La Niña” had brought above-average accumulated precipitation. The volume of water was so vast that more than two third of the country's provinces were flooded. Water inundated villages, temples, farms, factories. Manufacturing was hit as several large industrial estates were forced to close and factories had to shut, severely damaging the country's economy, industrial sector, and society. Flooded, the factory I had worked for was closed for renovation and I had to look for a new job. I sent a job application to a Japanese job recruitment company in response to an advertised job. I went for an interview with a female recruiter. I was surprised when she advised me to be cautious about stating my exact age. International companies seek to be equal employers who provide the same employment opportunities to all applicants and prohibit discrimination with regard to age, sex, gender and so on. I was made to be aware of “ageism” or prejudicial attitudes towards persons advanced in age. Ageism is a serious social problem relevant to everyone. As younger people experience age-based discrimination, older people are also discriminated against because of their age. Employers now seem to have a larger pool to choose from because a growing population of well-educated young candidates are seeking employment, who may be preferred. Moreover, job applications often specify a certain working age range. So, it appears more value is placed on youth than experience. In reality, we all should help shape our society so age, including age stereotypes, should not be a factor in hiring, layoff or termination decisions and companies with diverse experiences in the workplace will achieve better business results. When it comes to jobs where age is not relevant in any way, older people should be able to compete with everyone else, according to a young student who wrote about ageism in Thailand. They should not be weeded out by an age limit in an application. They should be assessed as applicants based on their training and experience rather than their chronological age, and they should be appreciated as vital employees for companies and organizations. This would take society a step in the right direction, toward a more balanced, diverse and accepting world. According to a new report from the Asian Development Bank, today's elderly are better educated and healthier than in the past. The average healthy life span increased by nearly seven years from 57.2 to 63.8 years between 1990 and 2017 for the economies in Asia and the Pacific. The average years of education among 55 to 64-year-old people also increased from 4.6 in 1990 to 7.8 in 2015. It is time that we view ageing as a benefit, especially when people live much longer and are viable professionals long past retirement. Old people have seen and learned more throughout their many years, and some are most important people in our world. It is time that we understand, acknowledge, and appreciate them as such.
I was horrified by this incident. “No one cares for me,” shouted a 59-year-old woman in front of the Finance Ministry on April 27. In protest, she swallowed a handful of pink pellets from a rodenticide bait pack, collapsed before rushed to a hospital. She was clearly distressed after failing to get a monthly stipend of 5,000 baht or around US$ 161, the Thai government's cash aid given for three months to informal workers hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. To curb the pandemic, the government locked down cities, shut down businesses, and imposed curfew and travel restrictions. Consequently, many, left unemployed, are struggling to put food on the table, with the poor and needy feeling frustration, despair and anger. Then people's little hope was reignited by the “Pantry of Sharing,” installed by “Little Brick,” a group of volunteers. The group first posted a video clip, asking what Thai people thought if the country could have pantries stocked with food for anyone. Many expressed their opinions. “Everything would be gone, the cupboard included.” “All food items would be taken home in a sack!” “The cupboard would be left empty.” “The answer is ‘impossible.' People are selfish with no conscience.” “Try the idea to find out.” “I wish we could have the pantry. I'm a rural man. We share what we have.” “Don't despair if you have no food. Every time you come across this pantry; you know you can take something home for your children. That'll bring happiness.” “We could help our fellow beings. Sharing with others brings you peace of mind.” “Donors are willing to give and recipients can fill their stomach with something from the pantry. So, both will be happy.” The first five Pantries of Sharing were set up by the group to alleviate the plight of those suffering hardship caused by government measures. This humanitarian act was inspired by the Little Free Pantry, started in the United States. The Pantry of Sharing is a beautiful initiative. Those who can afford to give, fill the pantry with nonperishable foods while people facing penury can come by and take everything they need to get through each day of poverty. Some even include notepads for people to write words of appreciation and encouragement to each other. Anyone can set up the Pantry of Sharing in their community. The idea has caught on rapidly. For Thais, sharing with those suffering is a way of making merit. Now there are community pantries in all 77 provinces. Local newspapers reported several stories of less fortunate people benefiting from these community pantries. A middle-aged mother and her 11-year-old son with special needs went several times a day to the Pantry of Sharing in the northern province of Phayao to find food. The mother could not work well because she was beset with diseases. They hardly had enough money to get by and sometimes had to go without food. These pantries are great. Old people, scavengers and the poor can come and get things here without queuing up in long lines to get free food offered by charitable organizations and individuals. One old uncle was widely admired by many social media users. He came to open the cupboard in front of Thonburi-Uthong Hospital and picked up only one carton of milk. He said only one carton of milk made him full and took nothing else to leave and share the rest for others to partake of. He was praised for being considerate and not opportunistic. Poor as he was, he was generous. Uncle Oud was from Ayutthaya Province. Homeless and without relatives, he wandered around in U Thong district, Suphan Buri province, to scavenge discarded materials for a living. Sadly, on May 18, Uncle Oud died peacefully from tuberculosis. In these challenging times, it is necessary for people to show their kindness and sympathy. That is why the pantries, known in Thai as “the cupboard that shares happiness,” are always replenished. However, this unattended food sharing scheme is still very new here. In reality, some selfish people abused the public's goodwill, raided pantries, took away all the items, hoarded the food, and worst, resold the stolen donations. Although people emptying a cupboard should be disapproved of, we may not really know what these people have gone through during lockdown. The motives of many cases are linked to rising poverty and food shortages. The reckless and selfish behavior may show just how the coronavirus pandemic and poor state support have made some people so desperate and insecure. In spite of the abuses being committed by some people, we should not lose hope in this food bank idea. A sense of giving should not be diminished just because our world also has inconsiderate people. Let us overlook those who are greedy. Our noble goal is to prevent destitute people from going hungry! During times of sickness and anxiety like these, it touches my heart and lifts my spirits when people help each other out. COVID-19: We will get through this TOGETHER.
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