by Walai Jantawiboon
Today (Nov 26th) is Sila’s birthday. (Sila means “Rock”) and I went to see him and his two grandmothers as I do once a week. I went one day late to make it on his birthday and went alone because my partner is out for a Children’s Council meeting in another province. As soon as I got in the house, his grandmother Yai told me that she was expecting my visit yesterday because her grandson cried so much. The boy has two caregivers, one is 78 years old and has leprosy and the other one is 80 years old. The latter currently has a cataract problem needing surgery. I was frustrated to hear of the boy’s illness. Then the old lady with leprosy asked if I could take him to the hospital. Well, that was not what I had expected for his birthday celebration. His birthday turns “bed” day instead.
Neither old woman was healthy enough to hold the boy and sit on the motorbike I ride. Eventually we got help from the neighbor who is a good friend of them. She is also of advanced age but seems more capable of handling any situation. She found proper clothes for Sila and rode with me to the hospital. As soon as we got to there, her arms were weary, so I carried him. The boy cried so much from his illness. We finally came out with a bottle of abdominal pain relief medicine from a private clinic for 30 baht. The public hospital we first tried was having a lunch break!
Who in the world would expect that he would get illness and medicine as a gift for his birthday? I was saddened by the fact that he could not have fun on his birthday. On the other hand, I was glad that when he is sick he still has his two old grandmothers and neighbor who care so much for him.
After Sila returned home with us, I gave him a green frog doll and prepared milk which he drank happily. I turned to his grand mom who has cataracts and asked her if she was ready to come with me for eye treatment. Lately, I have asked her repeatedly to go to the hospital for an optical check-up which she always refuses. This time was different. She consented and came with me. I was so glad I had not given up! Self-determination is one of our social worker core values. I fully agree with this value and try my best follow it. I don’t want to abuse my position by forcing her to treatment. For this time, I felt rewarded for not giving up easily. We had to wait at the hospital for two hours but it was worth it. We came back with some eye drops and advice from the doctor that the woman needs to have her cataract removed. I cannot and will not force her to do that. I asked her to talk this through with anyone she trusts and let me know her decision.
Sila’s mother had him when she was a little older than 15. She herself is also an orphan losing her father from a car accident when she was too young to remember. Her mom ran away after that. I was with her once when we took Sila to the hospital. She appeared very young and immature. I have no doubt that she does not care what happens to her baby boy. I suppose I could blame her for this mess, but how does that help? It is a time for healing instead of blaming. I need to focus on the issues and try to overcome them one by one. I hear Sila’s mom is hanging out with a new guy. I hope one day she will grow up and get back to a more healthy life.
I thank Opportunity Foundation for its vision and commitment to help people at every age. That enables me to not only help the girls having been abused and neglected but also become a helping hand to many people in the community that are in need. I believe that we as human beings are mostly kind, gentle, compassionate, and willing to help. What prevents us from doing so is the obligation of the lives we have to follow. This includes our precious time taken away by the work we have to do to earn a living. As someone has said: “We have money to buy a house but have no time to live in a home.”
I hope the Foundation will help more people feel that they are at home through our commitment and service of love and caring in action. Tonight, I ended my day with mixed feelings…I’m sad that there are many more people who need help…however, my joy came when I realized that at least one young boy and one old women have been helped today.