As Pa Moui strolls the six blocks of rough but rising Khlong Toei housing that make up her community of Sangsan Pattana, neighbors look at her with recognition and respect. Although she “retired” five years ago from her 30-year career in social work, the 71-year-old now heads up the Promjai Pattana Foundation, a role which heaps responsibility on her sturdy shoulders. Over the years, both as a social worker and in her time at the helm of Promjai, Pa Moui has run neighborhood projects aimed at reducing drug abuse, rescuing children from child abuse, and allowing the community members to build relationships with each other and their environment. Catching a whiff of the earthy smell of the community garden, Pa Moui reflects on the success of her collaborations with Pfizer Healthy Aging Society.
Last year, Pa Moui decided she wanted to create a system of activities to encourage elder members of her community to support each other. To get a sense of the population she wanted to target, she asked the district public health authorities for statistics on how many older persons lived in her community and what their level of mobility was. But when her request was answered, Pa Moui was dismayed to find that the statistics she received were woefully incomplete. If she was going to design an effective program, she would need to find another way to map the needs of the elderly in her community. So, Pa Moui turned to Kenan Institute Asia’s Pfizer Healthy Aging Society project for help.
With a small grant from the project, Pa Moui was able to fund volunteer senior visits, finding and addressing the needs of the most vulnerable members of her community. While the initial statistics from her district office only located 20 senior members, Pa Moui’s team was able to locate 70 seniors — 20 of them bed-bound — who could benefit from the care and social interaction of their neighbors. With Pfizer Foundation and Kenan’s support, Pa Moui and her team have reached out to connect generations and communities by bringing a group of 10 youth & children and five seniors & pre-seniors from three communities to the local temple to practice meditation, strengthening community bonds and reducing stress. Beyond the immediate impact of this service, her expanded knowledge of the senior members of her community will help to inform Pa Moui’s future projects. She is already hard at work on her next initiative: a new plot for the intergenerational community garden, designed to encourage not only seniors, but all members of her community to work together for a better environment to learn and grow.
By making community projects like Pa Moui’s a reality, Kenan is supporting Thailand’s highly motivated change agents to improve the health of Thais at all levels.