ISAN – The land of the helpless

Perhaps it isn’t hard to imagine the elderly struggling in hunger, poverty and disease. It is difficult to imagine that they arrived at such a state because their own children have abandoned them, leaving them to defend and battle the remaining years in loneliness. It is yet harder to imagine that parents neglect their own children due to economic disadvantage caused by poverty or new marriages; and for the children, under the care of a neighbour or an elderly relative, they do not know if they will ever see their birth parents again. Due to intergenerational poverty, conflict, disease and neglect, the elderlies are abandoned to fend for themselves in helplessness, while the children are left to face grave challenges with health, attachment and bonding issues in their development.
These are everyday issues in rural provinces like Nong Bua Lamphu in Northeastern Thailand. It is noted that 1.4 billion people in developing countries live on US$1.25 a day or less(1), 75% of which live in the rural areas(2) . In the rural provinces of Northeastern Thailand (also known as the Isan region), many abandoned elderlies live to survive the unjust; some live to look after grandchildren neglected by their own parents while others live without hope. Orphans and neglected children often become vulnerable preys to the society.
It is amongst these rural villages in Northeastern Thailand that we hope to give justice to the weak and the fatherless, maintaining the right of the afflicted and the destitute, rescuing the weak and the needy and delivering them from the hand of the wicked. [Psalm 81:3-4 ESV]
(1) IFAD Rural Poverty Report 2011
(2) Human Development Report, 2007/2008