April 20, 2020
April 20, 2020
It seems a little daft to begin by saying we hope you are all well, for in this catastrophe we find ourselves in, nobody is well at all. Least of all our friends and colleagues in various forms of lockdown in poor and informal settlements, who not only face a pandemic they are badly-equipped to resist, but are fighting for their ability to eat, to sustain themselves and to survive.
Here at the ACHR office in Bangkok, we are all in good health, all heeding the Thai Government's recommendations and working as best we can from home. We get together rarely now, and only well-equipped with face masks and hand sanitizer and separated by at least two meters of "social distance." It's not ideal, and we all miss our lively meetings and impromptu discussions. But so things go in this strange new world of safety precautions and isolation. That will sound familiar to all of you, I'm sure.
But we haven't been idle. As we begin to think how to address this COVID-19 crisis and how to make sense of the great changes and losses that are coming with it, we are exploring possibilities for what can be done, as a regional coalition with thirty years accumulated of dealing with crises and using them as opportunities to make things better. More on all that soon.
In the mean time, we've been trying to keep in touch with friends around Asia, to know how they are coping, what the issues are and what they are doing. Thank heaven for e-mail and internet! Even at this early stage, there is much to take heart about in the news coming in from around the region: from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. Everybody is busy, using their people-power to deal with new government restrictions, to figure out who needs what and how to help, to gather and distribute donated food and to work with aid groups and governments to make sure the formal assistance programs reach those most in need. And many other things.
We've gathered this first round of stories and put them together in the hasty e-news bulletin that is attached here. We send it out with the hope that all of you will keep sending us your news and your ideas, so that this can be the first of many ACHR e-news bulletins, to keep us in touch with each other as we navigate this terrible crisis and bring our coalition power to the task of making things better.
Please keep in touch - and take good care of yourselves everyone.
With warmest wishes from the team at ACHR in Bangkok,
Tom, Somsook, Brenda, Minh Chau, Nad, Nat and Chai