So, what do these numbers actually mean? Well, each Life Bag can feed a family of 4 for 5 days, which means that over the last 14 months they have already helped over 640,000 people (and counting) get access to basic food supplies.
During the last 14 months, 5 Star Marine and Sutai Muay Thai have, and continue to, put themselves out there in the local communities at least twice per week to make these deliveries. Through this charity initiative, they have made a huge difference to those most in need and been able to target some of the remote, hardest to reach and most at-risk areas and islands utilising the fleet of 5 Star Marine speedboats.
Even the current and previous waves of Covid-19 in Phuket did not dampen these all-important charity drives. After seeing first-hand how much devastation was caused to the local economy (where pre Covid-19 international tourism was so heavily depended on – with more than 90% of the island’s GDP reliant on it), the 5 Star Marine team now continues to work even harder to find solutions to enable them to continue these indispensable efforts.
5 Star Marine have built trusted relationships with a network of local OrBorTors and these connections have enabled them to get insights into the real needs of these communities. So, they are able to identify the highest priority villagers, and where they need to focus efforts several times a week. They also fully understand the necessity for these Life Bags is now, sadly, greater than ever.
Packing had previously been at Sutai Muay Thai on Saturday mornings by teams of volunteers and schools; in a Covid-19 safe and TAT SHA compliant way. However, as numbers of active cases in Phuket have increased recently, the decision was made to keep everyone safer by reducing the number of packers, and revert back to the original core group of 5 Star Marine and Sutai Muay Thai staff. With an ever-increasing need for Life Bags as the months go on, it means that this small-scale team will work around the clock to ensure no one is left out.
They recently managed to finish 1,000 Life Bags in a long 6-hour packing window. To put this into perspective, this amount would normally take up to just 1 hour with the usual numbers of Saturday volunteers. However, the team didn’t stop there, after finishing the mammoth packing task, they then went out to immediately get them delivered to identified communities in need.
During the past few months, 5 Star Marine have received increasingly frequent and anguished requests for help. During community visits some villagers have shared their concerns about not working and the desperation this comes with; some simply don’t know where to turn, and they are truly struggling.
However, in order to prepare for the road ahead, 5 Star Marine have increased their own funds available for donation; meaning they can reach and help more people and provide better support to those who are in need. They will continue to help the communities during this pandemic, and of course beyond too, and are continuously coming up with safer, more efficient ways to do this. They understand that the use of plastic in these Life Bags is not ideal, and have teamed up with UWC Thailand to come up with solutions and ways to reduce this.
So, please rest assured that throughout this pandemic, 5 Star Marine will continue with the buying, packing and distribution of Life Bags to the communities who rely on this so badly, and often have no other means of getting food.
How can you help and get involved? Please follow @5StarMarinePhuket on Facebook to see all the donation activities they have been busy carrying out. Also, when packing efforts resume (please note these are currently paused for the safety of volunteers and staff), then why not volunteer some of your time to help out – this really will make a difference.
Stay safe and be kind, from the 5 Star Marine team.
By Joanna Matlub