Thailand is one country in the world where traffic has become a serious threat against the lives and security of the people. Every hour two people die in traffic accidents, about 20,000 every year, and hundred thousand get injured. About 40% of the accidents happen at night and many of them would not have happened if the pedestrians had carried reflectors. Many of the victims are children.
“It is almost impossible to describe the traffic situation in Thailand in words,” Kurt Blomqvist says.
“There are traffic rules, but it seems that nobody follows them. An unbelievable number of cars on the streets plus thousands of motorbikes swarming like bees. And in this terrible chaos, pedestrians are walking around without reflectors.”
Kurt Blomqvist, a pensioner Swedish journalist who, in the 1990’s worked as an aid consultant in the former republics of the Soviet Union, now living in Thailand, and some other Swedes started a year ago a project aiming to give free reflectors (TAAFAI) to Thai schoolchildren.
In June last year 940 students in a school in Buriram region got free reflectors to protect themselves in the traffic and was as such the first school in Thailand, where the children carry reflectors in the traffic. The project was very successful and thanks to Swedish tourists, Swedes living in Thailand and some Norwegians an additional 20 000 Thai schoolchildren will this year will get free reflectors to protect themselves in the traffic.
“The expectation would be that some international aid organizations would show interest in a project which deals with such a serious matter as saving lives. But neither International Save the Children nor the Swedish SIDA were interested. Fortunately, however, there are private persons who understand this better,” Kurt Blomqvist says.
The project has during this year changed profile and has now become an educational – and research project. All 20 000 schoolchildren who already have got TAAFAI will also get a small book called “My traffic safety book” with easy understandable pictures that put the focus on traffic situations when many accidents happen.
At the same time the teachers get a “Recommendation how to give traffic lessons” in the school and an evaluation form to fill. That means that traffic safety for the first time has become a subject in some schools in Thailand.
The final goal is that reflectors in a couple of years shall be available for all people in Thailand to buy for a small sum of money at e.g. pharmacies, health centers, hospitals and other appropriate places.”
“But we have still a long way to go before we reach the goal.. And we still hope that some aid organization, leading companies or understanding private persons will help us in this very important mission,”” Kurt Blomqvist says.
Kurt Blomqvist can be reached by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org