I got a donation this week after soliciting help for my families on twitter. The $60 is about the cost of rent for the family I happened to be visiting while sending updates.

This particular family is one of three with women who have been effectively widowed to Bangkok’s immigration jail (where I’m not really allowed to visit anymore— but that’s another story). As with all ten of the families we help, rent hangs overhead like a foreboding cloud. The cloud increasing in size as the end of the month nears, until the worry it causes is visible on everyone’s demeanor. Volunteers who have visited these families before and after rent is due can testify that the difference is night and day. But we all know what it’s like when bills are due, only most of us never have to consider budgeting in how many days we can go without eating or weigh the advantages of sending our kids to school when the money for transport could be used otherwise. Fortunately, since this past Christmas we have been able to relieve some of the pressure on them. As a result, the families are healthier and the kids are learning more.

I haven’t written about this in a while and I think I should back track some to explain how these families ended up in our care.

Last year’s decision to get involved with helping needy families was a really easy one. The families we chose were particularly vulnerable and dependent on the kindness of NGOs, churches, and strangers. They were clearly not getting enough help and providing $15 food stipends was a cheap, simple solution at the time. So we started there, not expecting the circumstances for these families to get progressively worse.

By the end of 2010 we were supporting about ten families with not only food, but with a stipend for rent also. This was never the original plan, but when their other sources of support dried up, we stepped in. Our help has meant so much to these families. For example, one woman who was suicidal and living on the streets when she encountered Pam (flashback to this blog post), now has a home and hope for her and her sons. The stories are different for each of the families, but in general your help has meant living with a little more dignity and a lot less fear.

But this isn’t only an update to say they’re doing well, I’m also asking for your help to continue what we’ve started. Some of you have asked to know more about the families and how this all got started, so next week I’ll go even further into explaining how I became some sort of jeans and flip-flop wearing social worker (it’s a long story that’s really difficult to make short).