Advocacy

Natalie Narkprasert's Advice On Helping Those In Need: Don't Wait!


Natalie had no experience in running NGOs before Covid-19. The pandemic changed that.

Take action, don’t wait, says Natalie Narkprasert who—despite having zero experience working for charities or NGOs but plenty of inspiration from her elderly grandmother—set an example of putting thoughts into deeds with the creation of COVID Thailand Aid, her own NGO staffed by local and expat volunteers on a mission to do something to help people during the pandemic. She began with just one volunteer but today can count on 500+ helpers to assist more than 90,000 needy folk across 37 provinces. Raising 3.6 million baht in the process, Natalie’s journey truly goes to show that if your heart is willing, you will find a way to make a difference.

Tell us about COVID Thailand Aid.

We provide hot meals and care packages to vulnerable groups around the country. To date, we have helped senior citizens, low-income families, jobless and homeless individuals, orphanages, the disabled and refugees... when you consider we are approaching 100,000 people assisted you will understand the list is long.

What made you think of the project?

Back in late March 2020, I was getting fed up with feeling hopeless about the pandemic and wanted to do something useful, particularly for senior citizens, vulnerable people like my 92-year-old grandma. So I registered COVID Thailand Aid as an NGO and funded the first month with my own money, hoping to help 100 people. I’m happy to say that we grew incredibly quickly and now we benefit from the help of more than 500 volunteers, people like me who want to take positive action in the battle against this disease. Our goal is to help 150,000 people across Thailand if we can.

How can people donate?

Easy. Go to www.taejai.com/en/d/covid_thailand_aid_2021 and follow the simple steps. I can say that 100% of donations go towards helping people in need. 

Top tips for people who would like to start their own NGO? 

Always ask HOW can I make it happen? Not if. Then take action quickly, don't procrastinate. Try to find like-minded people who want to contribute to and support your cause. Then delegate, delegate, delegate. You can't grow if you micromanage, so give people room to take the lead. Frequently they will surprise you. Also, show your appreciation often and put the spotlight on others. 

Don't seek validation, especially from friends and family! Take action and see if you sleep better at night. Even if what you want to do already exists, either reach out and see how you can help that cause grow or create your own version. And leave your ego at the door because this isn't about you, it’s about those you are trying to help. Listen to their stories and find out what they really need.

I'm not special. If I can do this, so can you… but get fired up about something. Whenever I feel my blood begin to boil in frustration about an injustice or situation, that's my signal to take action. I had no experience running an NGO but I did have the determination to find a solution. There will be times when you will wonder why you’re doing it but keep a few pictures of the people you have helped about you because you will find them to be a great motivator when you face a big hurdle or pushback. 

Where do you see yourself in five years? 

I see myself playing an even bigger role in social activism. COVID Thailand Aid started as a relief organization for a specific problem, so I hope that well within five years we won’t be needed. However, on this journey, I have met with so many marginalised seniors and homeless, unemployed and disabled people that need help, need a voice, need someone to care for them. There are many, many grandpas and grandmas out there who are in a perilous position, pandemic or no pandemic, and that breaks my heart. Something must be done and it will be done!