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Unsung Community Heroes

This is not a superhero story from our childhood, filled with powers of invisibility, superhuman strength or teleportation; this is a story about a few selfless, unsung Phuket pandemic heroes. So, make yourself comfortable and let’s begin by shedding some light on a couple of local businesses that, although certainly limited by lack of superhuman powers, have not let this get in the way of collaborating to effectively support the most vulnerable communities – and still continue to do so almost exactly one year on.

Sunday 7 February 2021, 10:00AM

In 2020 we saw people from all walks of life rolling up their sleeves and getting involved by volunteering and donating, on small and larger scales, in order to help the local communities. Today, however I am focussing on one story in particular, and highlighting these unsung local heroes mainly due to the yearlong consistency and vast scale of their donation efforts.

So today, we’re focussing on two local Phuket businesses – Sutai Muay Thai and 5 Star Marine – who took a step back when COVID-19 first hit to analyse their resources. Their aim was to see how they could collectively pool their resources in order to maximise the support of vulnerable children, families and communities in and around Phuket and Phang Nga. A year has passed, and these two companies are still out there, at least twice a week delivering over 2,000 life bags. To date, they’ve donated in excess of 100,000 life bags, each one containing enough staple supplies to feed a family of five for around four days.

The 5 Star Marine boats have enabled access to some of the most at-risk islands, and allowed the charity efforts to go further afield, reaching places such as Coconut Island, Koh Yao Noi and Yai, Koh Panyi, Naka Yai, as well as some of the smaller villages in Phang Nga, in addition to all over Phuket Island. 

Nando and his Sutai Muay Thai team have been the driving force in physically making these donations happen. Not only do they contribute valuable time packing and sorting the life bags, they have also volunteered their trucks and full assistance on actual donations. Their gym proved the perfect space to pack and sort the life bags ready for delivery.

These multitudinous efforts have relied heavily on both companies’ volunteers. All staff members get involved to help out, and Nando even brings in the odd sponsored fighter to get stuck in; perhaps superhuman strength has made it into this tale after all!

A key point is how heartily they are investing in our local communities, and because all staff get involved they have been kept busy throughout this difficult period. Job duties have been shifted to keep staff motivated and busy working for the benefit of the community, and themselves. The safety of volunteers, beneficiaries and staff are paramount, with all these donations being overseen by public health officers and local arbiters, adhering to screening, sanitising and queuing with social-distancing guidelines. 

So, how can we as a community help? Well firstly this is not a donation drive, what they really need are more hands on deck to help pack, deliver and generally volunteer. Packing usually happens on a Saturday, and with one of the main packing centres at Sutai Muay Thai in Surin, there is an opportunity to lend a hand with practical volunteering here. If you have little ones, fear not as they can take part in a low-impact kids’ fitness class at the gym at the same time – so whilst you pack, they can play and get active. 

We all know an unsung hero or two, so why not take a moment to reflect on this recognition and now more than ever perhaps Spiderman had a point: “with great power comes great responsibility”.

Please contact Shaun from 5 Star Marine to lend a helping hand on 093 720 6221 

– Joanna Matlub

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