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The volunteers hostel north of Phuket could be a tsunami memorial

Celebrate the Tsunami Helpers and Heroes Around Phuket With a Fitting Memorial

Sunday, July 20, 2014
PHUKET: The building north of Phuket where hundreds of volunteers from all around the world lived in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami is now overgrown and in danger of falling down.

The place was once alive with chatter and filled with hope. Today, even the ''Tsunami Volunteers'' sign has been painted over.

Thailand really should commemorate and celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami, coming up on December 26.

Although 5400 lives were lost in a disaster that should be solemnly remembered, there is also cause for celebration.

The response of Thais to the big wave crashing onto Phuket and the Andaman shores was amazing.

Volunteers came to the coast from all over Thailand, carrying bodies up from beaches to temples, giving their time and energy to help their fellow citizens and tourists in extraordinary ways.

And over the coming weeks, volunteers from all over the world joined in. Tourists who were staying on Phuket and along the coast gave up their holidays to help.

The reunion of Emma and Ben Willgrass with Yupin Sengmuang, who runs a small roadside restaurant in Phuket and who helped the two British youngsters get to Bangkok after the death of their mother, is just one small helping story.

The larger saga, of helpers and heroics that deserve to fill a book, should be noted with pride this year by all Thais. It is one of the reasons why the country makes such a great tourist destination.

For the authorities to let the 10th anniversary of the tsunami pass without noting all of the helpers and all of the heroes would be a missed opportunity to inspire potential helpers and heroes everywhere.

The old volunteers hostels sits at the entrance to Khao Lak, one of the places most devastated by the wave.

Taking the old volunteers building and turning it into a museum to mark the tsunami, to commemorate the victims and to celebrate the deeds of the helpers and heroes, is a project the government should investigate.

The volunteers hostel could become the starting point for a tsunami tourist trail taking in the washed-ashore patrol boat, the memorial at Nam Khem village and the cemetery where 388 nameless victims are buried.


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A fitting memorial may include a fresh attempt to discover the identities of the 388 nameless victims through new DNA analysis not available in 2004, to provide some closure to their loved ones, and going forward, in memory of those lost in the tsunami, a general change of hearts and minds, like full disclosure and transparency on current drownings on Phuket, since they have not been reported on an annual basis, going on three years. Denying the public fatality numbers is tantamount to biting the hand that feeds.

Posted by farang888 on July 21, 2014 05:36

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