Days were harder and nights were longer for a refugee like me. I knew that I should keep myself low profile in a room of a commercial town in Thailand. What it’s like to have COVID-19 while seeking asylum in other countries?
I was sharing my two-floored apartment with a family of three, mom, dad, and their 3-year-old daughter. They were blue-collared workers without any steady income and unfortunately unemployed due to the pandemic. On the bright side, they became my living walls. Their kid loved to spend most of her time in my room. We had fun playing sharing her dolls and my makeup.
When I had a severe headache and fever on the evening of August 16th, 2021, I acted like this was just a normal fever. Yes, I acted because I didn’t want to put myself even in the imagination that COVID-19 is within my body and I didn’t want to find out either.
In other words, I was so scared just with the thoughts of challenges waiting for me if people found out that I contracted COVID-19. I was scared if I would be treated discriminately as a gross person, a bad person, or a troublesome person.
I rushed to the nearest clinic holding my tiny courage to ask for some pills to relieve my symptoms; headache, stuffy nose, and sore throat. As an alien, I was so afraid if I was allowed to buy some medicine. Luckily, I recovered the next day and the neighbouring family looked after me well. The kid loves to give me pills and water like a doctor. I rarely had direct contact with them or outsiders. I was so worried if anyone got infected from me. I did not want them to be in the situation I was. So, I decided to have a self-check test on 18th Aug and it was negative. I was very happy.
That happiness didn’t last even for a day. On the 19th, I lost my sense of smell. I tested positive. I was speechless and lost in my thoughts on the next steps. I stayed isolated in my room and the family moved to the first floor. They were not scared to help me but I can see they were fearful of the local authorities. They suggested me not to tell anyone. I understood them well.
There were so many thoughts in my mind back then if my symptoms worsened, “can I get medical service from a local hospital without any identification or as an asylum seeker in this country?, Can I even ask someone?, will I be in trouble after asking them?” Also, at the time, I was in the middle of my resettlement process. I was worried if they called me to put me in a house with others, and what if they cancelled my process, and so on.
I contacted CoCare via JRS. When the doctor checked my conditions, he found out that I had difficulty breathing. They then contacted the local hospital under my name. That was when I got my head fired on how they were going to register a refugee for treatment.
I shared with JRS my problems. I received suggestions on what I should do next. I informed the RSC office that I tested COVID-19 positive and it turned out they supported me with the help of IOM. IOM called me daily to check up throughout my 28 days of home isolation. The local hospital also offered free X-ray check-ups. I was overwhelmed and touched by the generous support from JRS for my medical expenses.
Besides such supports from the organizations, the family that I lived with helped a lot while I was in home isolation. They left healthy meals in front of my room. They helped with my laundry and did short errands for anything I need. Some of my friends that I knew only when I arrived in Thailand helped me sending food and medicine. Some warm calls encouraged me to stay strong. The person I appreciated most was my boyfriend who bared my up and down mood. He gave me most of his time making sure I was doing fine mentally and physically in a tiny room from miles away. It is too bad to be sick while living apart from your family. However, I was lucky to have such people and organizations around me during difficult time.
I want to sincerely express my gratitude and thanks to everyone. I could see and feel their generosity, willingness, and best wishes to keep me strong and safe. It made me feel better knowing that there are people out there who care for ‘the others’ like me. The love and support that they showed towards me helped me a lot to recover faster. Thank you so much.