I love nighttime strolls in Bangkok – alone in the city, empty streets, and the noise of traffic fading into the distance.
It is a chance to clear my head, breathe calmly, and let my worries slip away. “Oh, but I should mention – I am a man and not of the fairer sex.” For roughly half of the 12 million people living in the Thai capital, those dark streets are an utterly different place. The threats of physical and sexual violence are constant and brutal. This is especially true for the newly arrived rural nursing students I teach at Wat Arun Community Centre in Bangkok. Through our conversations, I slowly discovered they lacked the security I took for granted. Even worse, for most of my two years there, I had no idea it existed. It is the definition of privilege.
Why “Assimilation Package”
After hearing a few whispered stories, I knew the only way to discover the problem’s full extent would be an anonymous survey. I also knew, based on Thai culture, that a traditional questionnaire would never generate genuine insights. Therefore, I created a survey containing mostly “rank by most to least” and “what would you do in this situation” multiple-choice questions. I tried to map out the specific situations that generated the most negative interactions. I even compared this to open-ended questions via A/B testing, proving the structured survey delivered the most insights. With this information, I could finally complement my English and technology classes with something to make the city significantly safer for these young women: Assimilation Packages.
Based on the surveys, I included an orientation booklet with safety precautions, a pre-paid mass transit card, a pre-paid mobile SIM card (with free incoming calls), information on food/transportation costs, a Thai-English dictionary, and basic hotline numbers (including my own). The goal was to specifically address students’ #1 fear: “safety”, as confirmed by 80% of survey responses with an average score of 8.5/10. I then delivered 40 packages to current and upcoming students, even creating group phone chats with specific instructions to always photograph a taxi’s license plate, time of departure, and destination. The objective is to support “Safety through community”. We had slight setbacks, like the fact that I had to add “sound grenades” instead of pepper spray, because I discovered the latter is illegal in Thailand. In fact, the fine for carrying pepper spray ($30,000) is higher than the fine for rape ($1,300). But that is another battle.
Regardless, for the next year’s batch of students who received Assimilation Packages, the transformation in their confidence after arrival was stunning and inspiring.
Excited about this success, I then asked myself who else suffers from similar problems. I identified migrant workers as an ideal target. I reached out to several NGOs describing my solutions. The responses were staggering. Every agency I contacted said this was a concern, and they were eager for help. I therefore extended my fundraising and delivered 200 packages to three more agencies. Now, even more women can walk the streets, if not without fear, with significantly less. It’s not an end, but it is a beginning…
If you wish to be a part of us by sponsoring more “Assimilation Packages”,
please transfer to: Siam Commercial Bank Account No: 407-215513-1
Name: Pacharamon Kitaphanich
If you would like to have more information, please email:
Wat Arun Community Learning Center
The Community Learning Centre at Wat Arun Rajawararam (The Temple of Dawn) was approved by the Ministry of Education (Office of Non-Formal and Informal Education for Special Target Group) in 2016 as a boarding Learning Centre (school) for orphaned and under-privileged children/youths in Thailand. The objective is to provide right education and respectable employment upon completion of their study and training. This in turn prevents children and youths from being trafficked, cheated and abused.