Here at 5 Star Marine, we passed a huge milestone this April (2021) – of over 14 months of continuous efforts supporting vulnerable communities in need situated in and around the Phuket and Phang Nga areas.
Over 60-weeks of donations have produced an incredible amount of these Life Bags; more than 160,000 have been paid for, packed, and delivered to date. Each one containing staple items such as eggs, oil, noodles, sauces, and rice, among other essentials.
So, what do these numbers actually mean? Well, each Life Bag can feed a family of 4 for 5 days, which means that over the last 14 months we have already helped over 640,000 people, (and counting), get access to basic food supplies. Our teams put themselves out there in the local communities, going out at least twice per week to make these deliveries, so this number is rising every day.
Through this initiative, we are happy to report that we have already made a huge difference and been able to target some of the remote, hardest to reach, and most at-risk areas and islands utilizing our fleet of 5 Star Marine speedboats.
Even the current and previous waves of Covid-19 here did not halt our charity drives. After seeing first-hand how much devastation was caused to the local economy, our 5 Star Marine team now continues to work even harder to find solutions to continue these indispensable efforts.
We have worked long and hard to build trusted relationships with a network of local OrBorTors, and these connections have enabled us to get insights into the real needs of these communities. So, we are able to identify the highest priority villagers, and where to focus efforts several times a week. The necessity for these Life Bags is now, sadly, greater than ever.
Packing had previously been at Sutai Muay Thai on Saturday mornings by teams of volunteers and schools; in a Covid-19 safe and TAT SHA compliant way. However, as the number of active cases in Phuket has increased, the decision was made to keep everyone safe by reducing the number of packers and revert back to the original core group of 5 Star Marine and Sutai Muay staff (April 2021). With an ever-increasing need for Life Bags as the months go on, it means that our small-scale team will work around the clock to ensure no one is left out.
Our scaled-back team recently managed to finish 1,000 Life Bags in a long 6-hour packing window. To put this into perspective, this would normally have taken just 1 hour with the usual volunteer numbers. However, our team didn’t stop there and after finishing the mammoth packing task, they then went on delivering them without a break.
During the past few months, we have received increasingly frequent and anguished requests for help. Community visits have clearly highlighted that some villagers are desperate, they simply don’t know where to turn, and they are truly struggling.
However, in order to prepare for the road ahead, we at 5 Star Marine have increased our own funds available for donation; meaning we can help more people in need. We will continue to help the communities during this pandemic, and beyond too.
With an understanding that plastic usage during food donations is not ideal, we have teamed up with UWC Thailand to come up with solutions and ways to reduce this.
So, please rest assured that throughout this pandemic, we have and will continue with the buying, packing, and distribution of Life Bags to the communities who rely on us, and often have no other means of getting food.
Please follow @5StarMarinePhuket on FB to see our donation activities. Also, when packing efforts resume, (please note these are currently paused for the safety of volunteers and staff), then why not volunteer some of your time to help out – this really will make a difference.
Stay safe and be kind.
From the 5 Star Marine team.
At 5 Star Marine, we are proud to say that you, our valued customers, always remain our top priority. This means that if you would like to cancel your April adventure on the sea with us, we will happily provide a refund of your deposit, no questions asked.
We understand that right now, with everything going on, you might want to postpone your plans until you feel safer traveling. We will honor all cancelations – not with credit notes, but with honest fast refunds.
Just get in contact with us via the booking channel that you used and provide us your bank details so we can swiftly process your refund.
We are dedicated to making your time on the sea a 5-star experience in every way, and look forward to welcoming you back in the future should you decide to cancel your current booking.
5 Star Marine wants to reassure everyone that our essential community work will continue; supporting the most vulnerable people with our life bag donation program we have been running for over 14 months to date. Our life bags are crucially needed to help those in need during this economic crisis; each one supports a family of 4 people for 5 days.
Please note that our volunteering packing life bag efforts at Sutai Muay Thai on Saturday mornings will pause for the time being. This decision was made (6th April 2021) as a proactive measure in the interests of all our volunteers’ safety. Please rest assured that life bags will still be packed and distributed, but only by 5 Star Marine staff in a controlled environment.
5 Star Marine together with Sutai Muay Thai continues to collectively pool their resources to assist vulnerable communities in and around Phuket and Phang Nga and has done so for over a year now. To date they have donated in excess of 150,000 life bags; each one containing enough staple supplies to feed a family of 5 for around 4 days.
The fleet of 5 Star Marine speedboats has been critical to this effort, enabling access to some of the most at-risk areas. This has allowed their charity efforts to go further afield, reaching vulnerable communities in smaller villages and islands as well as across Phuket itself.
Last month (February 2021) saw the launch of One Phuket; born from a small group of local residents, charities, and businesses coming together to collaborate on how to help those most in need during this unprecedented economic crisis. 5 Star Marine are proud to fully support One Phuket’s operational efforts and are working collectively on several elements of this crucial charity drive.
One Phuket is now turning its attention to finding long-term, durable solutions to help get the people of Phuket through this pandemic, and beyond. They have come together to see how best they should combine with existing initiatives taking place, for the greater good of the most vulnerable communities. Some of their efforts will focus on opportunities that result in job creations, and hopefully a more sustainable future for our beautiful island.
5 Star Marine has ramped up their own philanthropy work by taking on all of the ordering, packing, and deliveries of life bags for One Phuket. With over a year of experience in this area, they are also fully supporting One Phuket by sharing guidance and best practices in the areas of operations and government regulations among others.
5 Star Marine also will support One Phuket on an ongoing basis, providing donations and funding necessary to reach life bag goals when required.
5 Star Marine has built trusted relationships with a network of local OrBorTors via previous outreach campaigns. These connections have enabled them to get immediate information from behind the scenes on the real needs of these communities and work on this intelligence. This sort of information is critical and will be shared with One Phuket to help their charity efforts where they are needed most.
Although 5 Star Marine does not take donations, One Phuket does and is asking for monthly or one-off donations however big or small; every little help.
Please join their Facebook group to find out more and see how you can get involved.
5 Star Marine and Sutai Muay Thai continued to support vulnerable communities in and around Phuket and Phang Nga for over a year now, and to date, we have exceeded over 150,000 life bag donations, (each of the bags contains enough staple supplies to feed a family of 5 for around 4 days). 5 Star Marine’s speedboats enabled to access some of the most at-risk areas and allowed the charity efforts to go further afield.
Given the complete scale of operations, they recently put out a petition, not for donations, but for more people to help packing of donation bags. So when UWC Thailand International School proposed that they could help as part of their community and Extra-Curricular Activities (ECA’s), this offer was gratefully received. More helping hands was exactly what 5 Star Marine was looking for!
Packing and delivering over 2,000 life bags each and every week is an immense commitment and the 5 Star Marine team has committed a significant amount of time and effort already. Now thankfully, we have more willing volunteers, as students and teachers help out weekly both on and off-campus.
The school will be providing a 20+ strong team of students and teachers each Saturday to assist with the community packing at Sutai Muay Thai. These sorts of activities are a vital part of student life and learning; providing an opportunity to bring students, staff, and parents, (as well as the wider community), together.
In addition to the off-campus efforts, there will be a weekly group of students (up to around 50), who will aim to pack 1,000 life bags each week for this worthy initiative. In true UWC style, the school has launched a competition inviting all students to challenge the packing process and in particular to look at how to reduce plastic usage, reuse, or recycle elements of the current food packing practices.
5 Star Marine team are grateful for the hands-on deck needed, and the response from UWC has been a perfect fit to help with these donation efforts. They continue to take the safety of all school and other volunteers, beneficiaries, and staff as of paramount importance, with all donation activities being overseen by public health officers and local arbiters; adhering to screening, sanitizing, and queuing with social distancing guidelines.
As we move towards the end of February I felt it was important to give a quick update to our customers, friends, family, and supporters on our efforts to provide food relief to local Phuket residents.
We are now past the 12-month mark of the devastating effects of tourism here in Phuket. We are seeing more and more businesses closing, people giving up and desperation coming forth.
Thailand was hit with a resurgence of Covid during the December / January period which saw Phuket shut down Domestic Travel. This “Second Wave” was devastating to morale as well as the financial resources of those surviving.
During the past month and a bit we have received more and more requests for help, and the requests have become more desperate.
As we visit communities they share with us that they have been without work for 12 months, they don’t know where to turn, and they are just struggling.
The good news is that we have increased our funds available for donation meaning we can reach more people, help more people and provide more support.
As you can see in the video below our packing days are getting lots of people turning out to help.
This would never have been possible without the help of UWC Thailand, its teachers, students, and volunteers. In addition to UWC Thailand, we have also had great ex-pat help.
To help manage our volunteer efforts to of our wonderful friends and customers Stepped into the position of Volunteer Managers.
Huge shoutout to Pete and Nina for taking on that responsibility and allowing us to help more people more efficiently.
So as the year continues, we expect to continue to be providing food relief support to our local Phuket communities.
Avid followers of our social media know that multiple times a week we are out in the local community donating Life Bags to villagers who are in need. Covid 19 has devastated the local economy here in Phuket where more than 90% of our GDP was reliant on International Tourism.
When Covid 19 first hit Thailand we all thought it would be around for just a few months and then we could “get back to normal” but Thailand and the world have faced a completely different reality.
Over 100,000 people in Phuket have lost their job with no hope or way of getting another job. Over 50,000 people have left Phuket for other provinces searching for work in a country that has limited opportunities due to Covid.
Despite all of this, when we are out donating Life Bags we are often asked “Why Are We Helping?”
The answer is simple, I have been living here for 13 years and during that time I have built a number of successful businesses and without the help of the local Thai people, without the help of these communities, this would never have been possible.
I remember when I first started out running boats in Phuket we had all types of trouble. Boat engines would have issues, fuel lines would clog, you name the problem and I’ve probably experienced it. Being a foreigner on the water with these kinds of problems can often be a little scary.
Not in Phuket!
Even if I just slow our boat down to stop at a fishing spot you’ll find 3 or 4 boats that are passing by coming closer to “check we are ok”. It is this kind of seamanship and community spirit that has allowed our company here at 5 Star Marine to prosper.
So now I believe that I, my team, and our entire 5 Star Marine company have an obligation to lift up the community, the very same community that helped lift us up. We have been successful, we are a well-respected company and we now want to use our success to help the local people “Stand Up And Fight”.
This time is temporary and if I know that my company, my team, or our donation program can in any way help even just 1 person to fight through this hard time, to feel hope, to have faith that “this too shall pass” then this entire donation program is well worth.
To help our fellow man is the greatest service we can give and I am honored every day to be joined by our volunteers, to be joined by our staff, and to be joined by our friends in delivering Life Bags and support to communities in need.