Tent camp offers temporary refuge
After having no place to call home for decades, street people now have a safe place to stay temporarily thanks to a tent camp set up along the Chao Phraya River under Phra Pinklao Bridge.
"We found that homeless people do not want a home. They just want to be accepted by society. Some of them even have got a job and earn money from public spaces," Natee Saravari, secretary-general of the Issarachon Foundation, said yesterday.
The foundation and the Social Development and Human Security Ministry launched the project a year ago not to promote the homeless to stay permanently on the street or in public spaces but to re-arrange accommodations for them and encourage them to support themselves.
About 300 people have lived around Sanam Luang - an open field for public activities - for a long time and about 200 people are staying at this public ground for only awhile.
The ministry estimates about 30,000 people living in public spaces nationwide with 2,561 of them in Bangkok. Most of them are poor people residing in the big city, sex workers, alcohol addicts, patients and ex-convicts. Some homeless people delivered a baby out in the open near Khlong Lod Canal.
After providing temporary shelters for 20 families around Sanam Luang for a year, about five people could return home and land a job.
"We are proving not only tents but also vocational training for them so that they can look for work and earn an income to improve their lives. Finally, they could move out from the public space and find a permanent place to plant their roots," he said.
Providing tents for the homeless for short use has been implemented in several countries like the US, Japan and Australia, he added.
Ngarmjit Taesuwan, head of ministry's Mit Mai Tri Home, said the success of this pilot project would be presented at the national seminar on social development at the end of this month. This project would be used a model to address the homeless problem nationwide.
"We have to accept their identity instead of forcing them out of public spaces because in the end they will come back again," she said.
However, this model would not work for every homeless person. Some of them need a tent but others need only a cart to sell vegetables.