MONKEY BOY, MY THAI STUDENT FRIEND
This Thai student is 10 years old. Everyday after volunteering at school we would drive him out to the rice fields, where he works to help support his Thai family. Because of the amount of hard physical work my young Thai friend must do on a daily basis, he is very thin and his clothes reflect his living conditions. His good hearted parents cannot afford to spend money to buy him a new school uniform or even essential school equipment, like a schoolbag.
When my friend was very young his parents divorced and he was left behind to live with his mother. His mother at that time was not able to make a living on her own so she remarried. Her new husband did not treat his new step son very well, and eventually the mother had to leave her second husband and send her son to live with his grandmother on a rural Thai farm. Due to their financial situation, his family has a limited amount of time and money they can spend on him and his growing needs.
When I first met my new Thai student he came across as the tough guy at school. The teachers would refer to him as being naughty and often use draconian methods of coercion if his behaviour was “out of line”- which happened often. During school lunchtimes he would run over pebbles, through mud, and climb up trees, all without wearing shoes. To further impress his classmates he would ride a bicycle without the aid of his hands or feet. He could also ride the bicycle while sitting the wrong way around, or even standing the wrong way around!
One day my young friend spent the entire lunch break in the tree tops. As he was climbing down, to return to class, I comically called him “Ling” (Roughly meaning in Isaan – “Monkey boy”). It turns out he was rather fond of this new nickname and insisted that everyone start calling him by the English name “Monkey boy.” He also became rather fond of me. He started competing with the girls over who could hold my hand, and when school would finish he would always be the last to leave the school. After which he would say, “See you tomorrow!” in perfect English with a massive grin on his face.
Volunteers come to help with Lokgatat and Mundo Exchange’s community aid projects. This particular volunteer, Mara, returned home to raise needed funds for Thai children, such as this young boy. With volunteer assistance in Thai schools and continued contact throughout the years these children realize that they are loved and respected by a large group of people, from both their own country and others. A big and sincere “Thank you!” to all global volunteers where ever you help in this world.