Mandate: To empower the men and women living in Bangkok's slum communities by giving them knowledge about their rights, providing access to everything that is, by right, their own, and by transferring our experience to them so that their communities will continue to improve in future generations.
Origins/History: This program has been in existence since the HDF co-founder, Father Joe Maier, first arrived in the Klong Toey slums in 1972. In the early 1980s, the HDF developed the resources to build and renovate slum communities; and the National Housing Authority began turning to the HDF for assistance. By 2003, the HDF had completed the construction or renovation of over 10,000 homes in the slums. As with construction and housing, all our community efforts have been initiated to fill a void in a critically needed service for the poor. We meet each problem by starting with modest yet practical solutions in one poor neighborhood and then refining and expanding their implementation into the greater slum communities.
Geographic Coverage: Greater Bangkok
The HDF oversees the following community services:
- Housing - Construction and repair.
- Community Organization - Consultation, leadership, education, and coordination with welfare organizations and government ministries, the national housing authority, metropolitan police authorities, and the Port Authority of Thailand.
- Drug Rehabilitation - Program placement.
- Documentation - Obtaining proper birth and identity certificates required for government schools, health benefits, and hospitalization.
- Sports - Construction and maintenance of drug-free playgrounds.
- Financing - Small business start-ups and emergency low interest loans.
- Klong Toey Women's Group and Savings & Loan - Empowering poor women to control their finances and strengthen their neighborhoods. Currently we have over 700 members.
Fires and Other Emergencies
In the past three decades, responding to over 80 major slum fires, we have worked through the night and following days with the victims, primarily squatters, to rebuild homes and prevent eviction. In most cases, we provide the materials, social workers, and community organizers while the victims, their families, and neighbors provide the labor. We also respond daily - often hourly - to individuals and families in crisis.
Housing, health, and welfare have generally improved over the years, especially in the more established slum communities. However, the migrant pull into Bangkok has swelled the numbers of urban poor. Drugs continue to plague families and communities.
And there are still countless slum children who need to go to school and who need to learn to read and write to survive.
Related Articles by Father Joe:
Klong Toey's pioneer Amazing Bicycle Breakfast Restaurant
Last Act of an Almost-Magical Finding Stick
The Flight of the Fruit Bat
The anonymous fate of Miss Na
Good Man Crossed Off the List
No parents, no food, no home
Hard Work in the Slums
Related Photo Galleries: