Free hostel boon for poor visiting relatives
Wat Ammarinthararam Worawihan, a temple next door to Siriraj Hospital, is once again offering free accommodation to poor people whose relatives are undergoing treatment at the hospital.
The free accommodation within the temple compound, which was built in 2015 to provide temporary housing for poor families visiting patients at the hospital, recently underwent refurbishment and was opened again on Tuesday.
The hostel is now divided into separate dormitories for men and women, has been fitted with air-conditioning and the surrounding area re-landscaped.
The temple's goal is to ease the financial burden on families of Siriraj patients who want to stay near the hospital but cannot afford hotels, said Dr Apichat Asavamongkolkul, the head of the hospital's Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.
The hostel is funded by the Siriraj Foundation.
Phra Khru Samuphakdi Yatinattharo, who oversees the hostel, said there are an average of 15 to 20 people staying in the hostel daily.
The monk went on to say that some of these guests come from provinces that are far from Bangkok and some of the guests are so poor that they don't even have the money to return home.
Hence, he said, the temple's social-work department sometimes gives these people the return fares.
Banchong Mi-im, 70, from Prachuap Khiri Khan's Thap Sakae district, who spent a few nights at the hostel said before this, it cost her 350 baht a night to stay at an apartment nearby.
Most of the 10,000 baht in cash that she would bring with her to stay close to her husband, a patient at Siriraj, would be spent on her accommodation, she said.
Now, however, the free accommodation at the temple is a boon and convenient for her to go and see her husband in the hospital, she said.
The temple also provides a washing machine, a microwave oven, drinking water and coffee for free, she added gratefully.
Her husband initially refused to undergo surgery necessary because of his condition as he was concerned about the cost of the medical procedure and other related costs.
However, hospital staff eventually convinced him, saying his bills would be covered by the hospital's fund for poor patients, she said.
Ms Banchong added that since the temple has been so generous to her and her husband, she is trying to return the favour by helping clean up the hostel.