Imagine having lived for over three decades without the bare essentials of life, such as electricity and water. This is not a post-apocalyptic fiction but the reality for Yoei Bungthong, an 84-year-old woman from Buriram province, who resides alone in her decrepit house. With no family by her side and the inability to walk, she clings to survival by the thread, heavily relying on the benevolence of her neighbours and the generosity of a nearby school supplying her meals.
Residing in House 101, Moo 3, Mai Daeng village, Chum Saeng sub-district, Yoei’s dwelling reflects her life’s predicaments. Both her children have passed away, leaving behind only a few distant relatives who visit occasionally. Aware of her heart-wrenching situation, the local community plays an integral role, sharing their food and companionship, including school lunches often provided by empathetic teachers.
A community leader, Aiem Soraknit, vividly shed light on Yoei’s situation. Her condition, although staggering, is not unknown to the community. Various community health services, along with benevolent volunteers, regularly check on her and provide the necessary care. Yoei also receives support from local government agencies such as the Buriram Red Cross and the Sub-district Administration Organisation, as reported by KhaoSod.
Fifteen years ago, Yoei sold her land for 300,000 baht, only for her relatives to snatch away the money and vanish indefinitely. However, she also received an unexpected gift of goodwill – 6,000 baht (equivalent to US$162) from individuals who wished well for her. This news sparked a brief return of her relatives, who promptly left after spending the money she had received.
Aiem, the community leader, assists Yoei with managing her disability and old-age benefits. The money is used cautiously and prudently whenever necessary. Despite her solitude, she still cherishes the memories of times when her grandchildren kept her constant company.
At present, Yoei, ever resilient, has requested the landowner where her current dwelling stands, not to evict her. She has a deep affection for the land she occupies and steadfastly refuses to move, even to a senior citizen’s home. She harbours a lingering hope that her grandchildren will revisit their nostalgic past and return to her.
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