I’ve had a pretty calm last couple of weeks, which has been nice and much needed. I was feeling a bit burnt out from being so busy and not having much time to myself. Even though I love my social time, I am introverted, so I need time alone to recharge.
The day after I got back from South Korea, I went to the immigration office with a few coworkers to get my visa extension, which I will need to do every 3 months. I woke up early that day and arrived at the immigration office around 8am. However, I think next time we’ll arrive even earlier or go on an off-peak day (not a Monday or Friday) because the waiting time lasted all day. We actually saw an old coworker at immigration who is now working with another organization here in Bangkok. It was really great to see her, especially because she provided a lot of guidance when I first started at AAT. I shadowed a lot of her sessions and asked her questions about client interaction.
I spent last weekend settling back into a routine and getting caught up on some personal things / scheduling appointments. I’d been wanting to spend some time to myself reading, writing, walking, etc. I also got my first Thai massage here at a spa that a coworker recommended.
When I was walking the other day, I stopped by a spirit house by my apartment when a little kitten came up to me and started meowing at me nonstop. The kitten seemed hungry for food and affection, so I went back to my apartment and got some of Steven’s food to give the kitten. When I opened up the bag of food, at least four other cats showed up. I think I’m becoming a neighborhood cat lady now because I’ve been back to visit this kitten almost every night.
Unfortunately, AAT lost funding for our long-term legal solutions program. This internal policy change means that for the time being, we cannot provide any services on options to move to a third country, including resettlement. It’s definitely very difficult and disheartening to help people with the RSD process with UNHCR, but then to not be able to provide them with information about LTLS, especially because that is the end goal. The client staying in Thailand is not necessarily a viable pathway, since there is no legal framework through which refugees can be resettled here.
In the month of September, I conducted about four or so legal clinics about options for moving to a third country. Throughout August and September, I hosted many legal clinics in order to try and provide this information to as many clients as possible before the LTLS program ends. There are many pre and post steps for the LTLS clinics, including calling clients to invite them, updating the participant/attendance lists, and reimbursing clients for their internet fees after the clinics. This was a bit hectic at times because legal clinics would sometimes be scheduled last-minute, but we wanted to be able to answer any questions that clients had about LTLS while we still are able to do so.
The other day, there was a client who came in for a screening with a member of the RSD team. This screening is to determine to what extent we can assist the client and to assess her refugee claim. The client ended up bringing her four-year-old daughter to the appointment, so the team took turns watching the child. I used to babysit and nanny a lot in the US, and I do actually really miss being around kids, so I was really glad to help with this.
On Saturday, I went to September’s monthly refugee dinner, hosted by Click Aroi, which is one of several refugee-led community empowerment activities facilitated by the Community Engagement team at AAT. Click Aroi (‘aroi’ means delicious in Thai) enhances refugees’ skills in traditional cooking, provides training on business skills and entrepreneurship, and creates channels for them to tell their stories through food. Click Aroi currently collaborates with two local organizations, Na Projects and theCommons Thonglor. Besides hosting a monthly refugee dinner at theCommons Thonglor, Click Aroi also runs a food catering platform that allows for regular orders. The dinner was really amazing, and it was great to see up-close more of what the other teams at AAT do. It was also my first time trying Ethiopian food!
Then, on Sunday, I went to a book swap. Since I haven’t found a free public library here and it’s expensive to keep buying new books, I’m so glad that my friend told me about this monthly book swap. It’s great to have this community of girls, as they share various literature events going on in the city.