Their life is like a movie.
A movie where the unfolding drama is surreal, you hurt for them, and just want the credits to roll with a happy ending.
But it’s a part of our story, too; and for so many of the people who make it possible for us to be here, it’s a part of your story. It’s a part of the global story of poverty and development, and hopefully a part of the story of the coming Kingdom.
They are a family of four. A father, mother, a little boy of three, and a little boy nearing 1 year. We met them when we first moved here and they lived in the huts across the street. They are connected in the community, and for those who know some of the community & of our bread delivery venture–the mother, Than Dar Oo, is Pyo Pyo’s sister and Nyein Nyein’s sister-in-law.
The father went to Bangkok to work first. When their oldest son was under a year old, Than Dar Oo followed and left their son, Doh Doh, with the grandparents. We watched him grow and laugh alongside his cousin.
They all returned to Mae Sot early this year with the newest baby in tow. They moved in with the grandparents–Than Dar Oo’s mother and her step-father, with Doh Doh, now 3.
First there were some abuse issues in the extended family. It was tense and we weren’t sure how to be involved. Than Dar Oo and her family moved out, down the road from us. But Doh Doh wouldn’t come. He didn’t know them and refused to stay with his parents; it was painful to watch for us, and I can’t imagine it for them.
The grandparents were quite exhausted of an ornery toddler. And to further complicate things, he liked us because he knew us. He’s been offered to us to adopt more times than I can count. It’s complicated.
Then Than Dar Oo came down with typhoid in June. Typhoid? Really? She was admitted to be given shots daily, and we helped them make the treks back and forth from the clinic for a week, moving dad and baby and grandma back and forth.
Just weeks later, we got a call from them at the hospital. She said they were already at the hospital, but could we come? We were pretty confused, but went and started the search to find them.
Than Dar Oo had been called to the hospital because a roof had fallen on her husband at work. They had dropped off at the ER with $60. He had a large neck wound with more stitches than I could count; it looks Frankenstein-like. He also had a broken hip or femur, which required surgery and a bolt to be put in. He was in the hospital for a week and his bills were over $300. Than Dar Oo did a great job negotiating the bill with social services and was able to give the $60 his work had provided. We simply helped with rides to and from the hospital each day.
Now he is at home, in a hut with crutches during monsoon season. He can’t work now, and we’re not sure when he will be able to. She has a one-year-old and her husband to look after.
So we started providing them with food each week. We buy about $10 worth of food, including rice, fish paste, noodles, and a few vegetables or fruit. The first they were shy, saying they didn’t need it.
The second week they took it gratefully.
The third week, we arrived as she was “making dinner” of chicken-flavored snack crackers and chopped onions.
This was about the time we learned about the bigger problem. She had gone to his work to get his pay–they owed him for nearly three months worth of work, about $600. And they said they didn’t have it and wouldn’t be paying it.
Than Dar Oo went to talk to a Burmese workers’ association here in Mae Sot, and did a great job taking the initiative. They both have papers, which is an incredibly huge blessing, so the Thai government has a responsibility to defend them. They have kept records over the three months, so they have evidence of what is owed in pay; they have the records from the hospital to prove the accident.
But they are still Burmese. And he is still on crutches, they don’t have money for living expenses now, and they aren’t sure what the future holds.
So this Monday & Tuesday found us at the workers’ association office, putting in official complaints and files and then negotiating with the employer. The negotiations went something like this:
We’d like 150,000 baht ($4,225) in compensation, in 3,000 baht ($90) increments per month.
We’ll give you 15,000 baht ($422) over the next two weeks.
There is only so much we can do. But we can help get them back and forth in the car rather than her biking him across town, with crutches and baby. We can help make sure they have food now, until they know about tomorrow. We can help Doh Doh recognize his mom and encourage time with her. We can try to bring restoration and redemption to pain and deceit. We can pray for God to be their defender.
We can pray for a happy ending!
It’s been hard to see this family. It’s been hard to see his face cringe in pain. It’s been hard to break down the barriers of what their needs actually are and how we can help.
But I’m so thankful to be here. I’m so thankful for people who support the community fund and allow us to buy food for a family that is so desperately thankful for rice and fish. I’m so thankful for the people that pay for our rent and food and car, so we can spend days sitting alongside them, doing life with them. It’s a messy, sad, painful life for them right now, but we can do that with them, too.