Thanks to all the new readers who’ve signed up for the feed and all the old readers who have hung in as the site has evolved. Since there’s been so much interest I will start posting twice a week. I’ll rearrange the heavier content to be featured earlier in the week and Fridays will be reserved for lighter posts and project updates.
I want to share my visit to a small makeshift school west of Bangkok. The school has been setup to teach the children of mill workers from Burma who can’t afford to send their kids to public schools. These Burmese migrants have come to Bangkok for various reasons including the promise of economic opportunity, bonded servitude, persecution by the Burmese government, and as trafficking victims.
After spending some time with students at the overcrowded school, I visited the home of one child who hasn’t been attending. I found out he stays home all day while his mother who has AIDS is working in the mill. His dad was already dead from the disease. He has an older sister, 15, also away working in the mill and a younger brother who I had just met at the school. Unlike the active younger brother, he was in particularly poor health because he had contracted TB in addition to the AIDS from his parents. Furthermore, he had already lost the ability to open his right eye and the functionality in one of his hands due to his poor health.
Heartbreaking, right? Well this is normally where someone jumps out in a green suit and screams, “Donate Now!” I know what you’re thinking because I was expecting the same thing while I sat on the floor in the tiny room meant to house a whole family. However, I sat almost unnoticed while the boy focused his good eye on the Burmese school master. She asked about the rest of the family, his medicine, his ability to walk and finally made her way around to why I had come. She asked him, “Is there anything you want to eat? There are some guests with us today and perhaps you can request something from them.” He smiled a toothy grin and the teachers laughed and explained he asked for durian. Durian is a favorite among the Burmese, but if you didn’t grow up eating it then the name of this pungent fruit probably strikes fear in your heart (or atleast nostrils). Of all the things he could ask for, I thought. Then I laughed and breathed a self-absorbed sigh of relief because I didn’t have to take him to a Sizzler in Bangkok.
“Does he have any toys? What does he want?” I asked.
“What color?” I inquired further.
“A red car.”
The end. (You can see pictures here).
There’s no plea here for donations here. Instead, I’m begging you to consider your exposure and response to issues hurting your community. For some of us poverty exists only in infomercials. So how do you respond when you really do have opportunities to help people? Are you afraid of what you have to lose? Is there anything too small to help someone else? Anything too big? While you may not be inspired to start a NGO or pick up and move to a village in a developing nation—I’m hoping that if given the chance, you’d do anything to make sure one sick little boy gets his durian and red car.