Marika Nanni #EmmaWallaceWoman tells how Sang Foundation are helping those affected by COVID-19 in Thailand

#EmmaWallaceWoman - Marika Nanni

This month we are proud to be supporting the Sang Foundation who are currently doing amazing work operating food deliveries to the elderly and those affected by COVID 19 and the lockdown in Thailand. Although originally the Sang Foundation was founded to raise public awareness about plastic waste and the environment, due to the pandemic the foundation quickly shifted all its resources into helping those in need.


Our team member, Marika Nanni, has been on the ground volunteering with the foundation and taking part in the food drives. Check out this Zoom interview below to find out more on the Sang Foundation and her experience.

To further support the foundation, we are donating 20% of all our June sales to the Sang Foundation. We look forward to your support and help in spreading the message!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, what you do and where are you right now?

I am a Marketing Consultant for fashion and lifestyle brands and Co-Founder of Moringa Project based here in Thailand, a clean beauty brand powered by Moringa, a superfood. I’m of Thai/Italian heritage and am usually based between Bangkok and Hong Kong. I have been grounded in Bangkok since Covid-19 hit and lockdown was enforced in Thailand. This meant school and business closures, ban on travel and self-isolation, so we decided to settle in Hua Hin, 3 hours’ drive from Bangkok. Hua Hin is a beach town, popular with both domestic and international tourists and is also the base of our Moringa Project Farm.

 

We know you’re doing amazing work in Thailand by volunteering for the Sang Foundation. How did you first get involved with the foundation and what motivates you to be involved during these trying times where most people are under lockdown?

Being highly reliant on tourism, I saw the effect the lockdown was having on people here in Hua Hin and the Prachuap Khiri Khan province. The travel ban and business closures meant many lost their jobs or had no means of making their daily wages from beach vendors to food stalls, massage to souvenir vendors, not to mention hotel and resort staff. What was quite a bustling town was now quiet under closure measures. With no means of making their daily income many people cannot feed their families, the elderly and children in particular are being deeply affected. I saw the devastating knock-on effect lockdown was having and knew I wanted to help.

I have been following the work of the Sang Foundation for a while now on Facebook and was drawn immediately to their daily updates on the food drives, impressed by how flexible and quickly they mobilised efforts to help those in immediate need in this area. Hua Hin is where our Moringa Project Farm is situated so is an area close to our hearts and it felt really personal to me to give back to the local community. I reached out to Mutsumi Adachi, the founder of the foundation and was able to help her fundraise and be part of a few drives.

Through sharing my experience on social media I was able to gain support from my friends and network for the foundation’s work which has been great.

The Sang Foundation was founded to raise public awareness on plastic waste which is such an important topic, can you tell us more about why the foundation shifted their efforts to food deliveries during the past couple of weeks? 

The current shift has been a response to the effect Covid-19 was having on people in the area. Covid Aid Bangkok started to gather funds to deliver food packages to people in need in Bangkok and the surrounding area, the Sang Foundation started to do the same for the areas of Cha’am, Hua Hin and Pranburi. It was the realisation that people needed help and fast.  

 

How does the Sang Foundation operate in getting resources together and delivering food to villagers?

The Sang Foundation, headed by Mutsumi, relies on donations made and is supported by a group of volunteers who help to source and buy the food, usually from wholesale markets to maximise the donations, who then store the supplies at a space provided by a restaurant. Together every day, volunteers get together to drive the food packages in several cars and pick-up trucks to various locations. The food packages usually include rice, oil, canned fish, noodles, eggs, and milk and diapers for babies.

As news spread of their work, the foundation now receives many calls and messages from people asking for help which is increasing every day. This brings them to different villages or slums, to places that they would not have known of otherwise. They are doing their best to fulfil all the requests but it is also a realisation that the need is vast. The more they see, the more they realise the urgency and that more help is needed.

 
How frequent are the food drives?

The food drives are every day, to a different location to help different families, which is an incredible effort. Depending on how many families live in each location, which is calculated and organised in advance, is the number of supplies taken on that trip. Some days it is to feed 50 families and other days it can be 250 families. Extra packages are taken for any houses along the way.

So far the Sang Foundation has fed over 3,500 families, but in terms of people helped it will be 3 or 4 times that number. They started the drives on April 15th and have not stopped since. It’s remarkable to know how many people have received help from the foundation.

 

Are there any difficulties that the Sang Foundation have come upon? 

I think the key challenge is to be able to raise enough money to support what they’re doing because there is just so much that is needed to be done. It’s estimated that there are approximately 10,000 families that need help in this area alone so that means a lot of support is needed. Another challenge is where some villages are located, which could be deep in the mountain ranges, so there are logistics challenges in being able to reach some of these places effectively.

 

Will the Sang Foundation continue their efforts in food deliveries after the tourism economy starts again?

Yes, I don’t think the issue will solve itself quickly after tourists are allowed back into the country. I believe that Thailand will slowly open the borders again on July 1st but it will still take a long time for the economy and business to return to what it was like before. I also think that this raises awareness of other underlying issues beyond the lack of tourism. 

 

How can people help the Sang Foundation?

The best and most direct way is to donate to the Sang Foundation via their international paypal account (info@sangfoundation.org) where money will go into buying the food supplies. For more information people can visit their website.

Has an interaction with a family that you’re helping or during a food drive in particular that moved you? 

All of the drives have been an experience. The one that stood out for me was driving through the mountain ranges of Pranburi, near the Burmese border to reach one of the villages. On route, we stopped at an individual house, a shack really, that we came across and approached them with the offer of food packages. Two families were living there, many of which were children. Initially they were a bit shocked as to what we were doing there but they quickly welcomed us with smiles when they realised we were there to help. For me as a mother it was very emotional to see the children living without the basic needs of healthy food, fresh water and clean clothes. This experience led me to collect children’s clothes, mainly from friends in Bangkok, to include on the next drive so we always have clothes on hand to give if needed.

Are there any happy, fun or interesting stories you can share with us about your food drives?

There are many moments that are happy and sad, definitely a mixed bag of emotions! I guess a fun and interesting story about the Sang Foundation and why I love what they do is that they also take care of animals. They bring dog food to feed the stray dogs and recently have been going to the elephant sanctuaries to feed the starving elephants. Because the wildlife sanctuaries have been closed for nearly 3 months now with no ticket sales, there is no money to buy food to feed the animals. It’s nice to know that the foundation is not only helping people in the area but animals too. 

 

It’s great to know there’s still a lot of people performing small act of kindness and it’s something that we would love to spread around the world. Can you can provide us with a final tip, titbit or quote on how we can spread kindness during the lockdown/pandemic?

Everyone is going through a different experience right now and affected by lockdown and isolation in different ways, whether it’s being on their own, dealing with loss of work, a suffering business or anxiety about their health, so a little kindness goes a long way. Help when and whoever you can whether it’s reaching out to someone who is alone or a neighbour that needs a home cooked meal, a few words of kindness to a friend or even a stranger, or simply donate to a cause like the Sang Foundation.

For more information on the Sang Foundation and how you can help, please visit their website at https://sangfoundation.org/

Be The Change. #EmmaWallaceWoman

 


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