Environment, News

TKN Exclusive: How Thailand’s Floods Have Affected Me

Truck in Thai flood, 2011Nat Atherton is a Canadian teaching grade three at a school in Thailand. He gave TKN a first-hand account of the day-to-day havoc this year’s floods have caused. For more information about Thailand’s floods, please see the TKN article Flood Wreaks Havoc In Thailand.

By Nat Atherton

The flooding here has been horrible. It hasn’t yet come into the centre of the capital (Bangkok), where I live, but has affected many of the people I work with.

Many of the poorer Thais live in the surrounding areas, which are flooded chest deep (1.5 metres) in some places. I know a great many people who have lost their houses.

Many others haven’t been able to go home to check on their homes since rivers of dirty water separate their work from their houses. Many well-known tourist districts have also been affected, including the world’s largest outdoor market, Chatuchak.

One of the worst affected areas is north of Bangkok in the former imperial city of Ayutthaya. This is a UNESCO world-heritage site and at one point in the flooding was under five metres of water. It is also home to many elephants, which have been starving because of the lack of food available. Usually an elephant eats 250 kg or food a day but these elephants are only getting 50kg. They are extremely skinny and look very sick.

The ministry of education has asked that schools remain closed until the 21st of November although it’s quite possible that this date will be extended as many public schools are under water.

My school has not been flooded, although it remains a possibility. We were closed for awhile but have received special permission to re-open as we aren’t in direct harm’s way. We have also worked with students via the Internet to ensure students are provided with e-learning.

Nat Atherton
Nat AthertonStudents helping out during the flood in Thailand.
Students helping out during the flood in Thailand CF
Students helping out during the flood in Thailand.

If water does get into our school we could be out until the New Year. While that may sound fun to some kids, we have to make up the days! In fact, to make up past lost days, school has been extended by 40 minutes each day and we are now going to have classes this Saturday!

The major concern for people is disease. The flood water is filled with raw sewage because Bangkok has many open sewers which have been flooded. There have been cholera and malaria outbreaks.

Also, rural Thailand has many tourist crocodile and snake farms. The flood waters have released these animals into the ’wild.’ The Thai government is offering 1000 baht for any ‘croc’ caught. That’s about 30 Canadian dollars to put yourself in harm’s way!

Many people are trying to assist flood victims. Many people have assisted in sandbagging areas and passing out supplies to flood victims. Our school has even gone around to entertain flood victims by singing songs and playing games with flood affected children. The hope is that these small acts may lift the spirits of these people.

Our school and many others are also holding collection drives for clothes, food, toys and even jewelry. I also know of a company that is collecting millions of water bottles which will be attached to bamboo rafts as flotation devices.

People here are still concerned; mostly it is a waiting game. Water and food shortages have been the hardest part. In Bangkok we have to drink bottled water but right now it’s hard to find as are other food staples such as rice.

However, the Thai people are very resilient. They have overcome major natural disasters in the past (The 2004 Tsunami, for example) and despite how difficult it has been most people are still smiling—Thailand is called the Land of Smiles.

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Most journalists write neutral news articles (with few personal information or ideas).  This article is different because the journalist, Nat Atherton, is writing about his personal experiences in Thailand.
How does this article help you to understand the floods in a different way?  How would this article be different if it were written from a neutral point of view?

Reading Prompt: Point of View
The floods in Thailand have affected many people in several different ways.  Explain how this story might be different if it were told from another perspective.  For example, what would the story sound like from the point of view of: 1) someone who lives in Bangkok, 2) someone who lost their house in the flooding, 3) a tourist visiting Thailand for the first time, 4) a person taking care of the elephants mentioned in this story or 5) a teacher whose school has been closed?

Identify the point of view presented in a text and suggest some possible alliterative perspectives (OME, Reading: 1.9).

Identify the point of view presented in texts, ask questions to identify missing or possible alternative points of view and suggest some possible alternative perspectives (OME, Reading: 1.9).

Identify the point of view presented in texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts; give evidence of any biases they may contain; and suggest other possible perspectives (OME, Reading: 1.9).

Grammar Feature: Slogans
Thailand’s slogan is: “Land of Smiles.”  Many countries, provinces, states and cities around the world have slogans.
What is the slogan for the place where you live?  Do you think it is a good slogan?  If you were to make up a slogan for your city or town, what would it be and why?