Yet another woeful story among the poor

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Jesters Care For Kids 2014, sponsored by Glencore International and Canadian Jackalope Open

Poverty puts a strain on relationships, family harmony and the ability to make ends meet. Strength and determination are needed to survive. Both parents have to work long hours each day, often away from their living situation. If they cannot take their children with them, then they might have to stay behind and fend for themselves. Without adult supervision the slums can be a risky endeavor for children.

Poverty also causes break-ups when one parent decides to move on for something better. For the parent left alone with the children, the day-to-day ordeal increases exponentially. When this happens the single parent tends to look for new alliances even if one of the ulterior motives is to get another breadwinner back in the family. But then as far as fitting in with the rest of the family, the new step parent it is not always amicable.

Duangjai, Siripatrara and her 4-year-old daughter sit on the bike Jesters gave her with the modified side car.Duangjai, Siripatrara and her 4-year-old daughter sit on the bike Jesters gave her with the modified side car.

Additionally, these new unions usually mean more offspring and when that happens, in the near future, the economics will be exacerbated anew.

Teen pregnancies are yet another problem among the poor. It might be something you relate to as a problem upcountry, but it is also becoming a reality here in the urban environments. In fact, we see young mothers on a regular basis when we make home visits for the monthly rice distribution and also with PILC and the Ban Chang Hospital outreach program during their food drops.

Case in point is Duangjai, a 40-something female, single parent, looking after 5 children and, to say the least, she is struggling. She is a mobile food vendor and typically earns 300 baht a day, which is her break-even figure to care for her family.

From her first husband, she has two daughters, who are now 17 and 15 years, but then the husband/father got up and left. Duangjai remarried and eventually had two more girls, one who is now 8 years old with Down syndrome and another, who is 4 years old.

Last year, the 17-year old daughter became pregnant and now has a 6-month old baby. Husband #2, exasperated with the addition, said he was not going to stick around to raise another child, especially one that is not of his blood. So he too exited the scene and Duangjai is now alone again to take care of her 4 daughters, one with special needs, and her new grand daughter.

The Jesters heard about her plight and decided to assist. The first thing she requested was to modify her side car, so she could expand her menu to include som tam and barbecue chicken to earn more money. With that done, we then heard that her motorbike was repossessed. So, we canvassed the ex-pat community for a cheap second-hand motorbike and in no time at all, three friends came forward and donated their bikes for free. We gave one to Duangjai and the other two to needy recipients in our rice distribution program under the banner of ‘Share Love with Friends’.

Erle, Duangjai and her daughter with Down syndrome, Siripatrara during Jesters’ rice distribution.Erle, Duangjai and her daughter with Down syndrome, Siripatrara during Jesters’ rice distribution.

We also decided to assist further by supplying powdered milk to her granddaughter for the interim and thought she was good to go now.

However, when we saw her earlier this month, we found out that she had borrowed money from a loan shark and was looking to us to pay it off. Unfortunately, for this request, we had to say, “sorry, but no.”

Sometimes it can be frustrating trying to do the right thing, but then it is something you have to get inured to as well. Most of the people we help understand that we do not indiscriminately hand over cash. We also do not want people to think that they will be getting hand-outs indefinitely. In fact, we expect our recipients to work together with us to make their situations better too. And as far as these unsavory types go, who profess to loan money, when their actual business is extortion, our policy is to stay away from them.

Getting education for the children of poor families is not easy given their austere circumstances, but if they ever want to break out of the cycle of generational poverty, it has to be a priority. It is certainly a priority for us, as it is for our target charity, the Fountain of Life Center. Not only do they offer day care for children when both parents work, but also prepare them for school and in due course, scholarships so they are indeed able to get an education.

If you would like to learn more about such special cases and helping the poor, please go to www.care4kids .info, www.facebook.com/jesterscare.kids and/or https://twitter.com/JestersCare4Kid