Goodness of humanity shines through the darkness of Bangkok bombing

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 August, 2015, 2:37pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 August, 2015, 2:41pm

Thailand is famous for its colourful culture and generous hospitality. I believe those were some of the reasons that brought Vivian Chan and Arcadia Pang to Bangkok on that fateful night. Little did anyone know that, when the bomb exploded at the Erawan Shrine on August 17, the ugly inhuman act that took their lives and aimed to instil fear would, on the contrary, ignite human goodness and being people in Thailand together, stronger.

In the first hours of confusion, expats in Bangkok responded to the need for interpreters at hospitals. Despite the deadlocked traffic and temporary closure of the mass transit system, volunteers used social media to identify hospitals in need and found their way there to provide assistance.

Yet amid all the publicity and global attention, it was the personal touch and those who worked quietly behind the scenes that touched my heart the most

As a volunteer interpreter for victims from Hong Kong, I had the privilege to witness the overwhelming support from the Thai and Hong Kong governments as well as sponsorship in various ways from different private sectors for victims and their families. Officers from the international co-operation division of the Hong Kong Immigration Department accompanied families of the deceased to Bangkok and provided assistance throughout the heartbreaking process. The king and queen of Thailand and the Thai government sent representatives to express condolences in person. A score of 5-star hotels near the bomb site announced they would accommodate relatives of those affected by the bombing. Chinese restaurants delivered free food. Thai Airways offered free transport for the deceased back to their homeland.

Yet amid all the publicity and global attention, it was the personal touch and those who worked quietly behind the scenes that touched my heart the most. The worker who donated blood at the Red Cross; the hotel staff member who attended to every need with sadness in her eyes and a smile on her face; a volunteer who held the hands of a family and cried with them; the doctor who escorted discharged patients all the way to the airport departure gate … and numerous unnamed personnel and volunteers who helped in whatever way they could to ease the pain of a tragic experience. Vivian Chan's mother talked of her daughter as a cheerful and happy teenager who wanted to change the world and make it a better place. In the most hostile and barbaric act against humanity, the senseless loss of two young lives provided a way for kindness to shine through the darkness that surrounded it.

Ms M. Chinsomboon, Bangkok