(Mae La camp)
Life was throwing up many challenges for Padee Go Laa at a time when he was in little position to cope.
The elderly refugee had lived alone for ten years in Mae La camp after his only daughter returned to Burma/Myanmar.
On top of impairments to an ear and an eye, he contracted another illness that forced him to become a regular visitor to camp medical facilities for months.
Over a period of around two years, his deteriorating health was mirrored in the conditions at his home to the point that the walls were almost completely devoured by insects.
Padee Go Laa had not been aware that he could receive help from the Shelter Working Group in his section of the camp.
When the team approached him, he explained that he had stayed alone since his daughter returned to Burma/Myanmar for reasons whose details weren’t entirely clear to him, but concerned her husband.
He was not in position to make such a trip, due to his health and in light of the years of displacement he had experienced before arriving in the camp in 1997, he said. He could not plan for the future, he said; his current needs were too pressing.
In light of Padee Go Laa’s many difficulties and tough living situation, the shelter team undertook to repair his home, to his delight. While they worked, he stayed in a nearby church.
Today, the senior citizen has a much-improved home that adheres to the TBC guidelines of providing a minimum of 3.5 square meter space per person. Most importantly, he is surrounded once again by four secure walls.
TBC’s Shelter and Settlement Programme provides technical support to Shelter Working Groups in the camps which undertake housing assessments, manage housing stock and help households with special needs to upgrade their homes.