I know you all probably saw this email coming. Sorry...but, not sorry.
I have been wanting to write for a while about a relationship that I have struck up with a 14-year-old girl named Dokbua. I figured the email where I ask for money at the end is the perfect fit. Dokbua was failing English so she was one of the kids I was tutoring after school. By far she is one of the funniest girls here. Super sarcastic. Which I appreciate. Super bossy. I have to tell her to stop telling everyone what to do all the time. I think she has a beautiful face. If I turn my back for two minutes she is taking selfies with my phone. She is really popular within her group of friends. Sort of the queen bee. What she says goes. Right away she became one of my favorites. Not because she was the most well behaved because she isn’t. Her priorities are painting her nails, gossip after school, selfies, pretending to care about soccer but really just going to flirt with the boys. Anyway, we have become pretty close and I find out she is the oldest girl of five kids. Three brothers and a sister. This seals the deal for me. It’s like I went from liking her to understanding her. I get bossy. I get being an average student. I get caring about makeup and not chores. She is a good kid that’s kind of a pain in the ass. I really get that.
Around the time of my internal pity party in February (I was mauled by a dog in case you don’t remember) I had been doing a lesson on vocabulary about medical ailments. Such as a headache, broken leg or fever. At the end I had them pretend I was the doctor and they had to tell me their symptoms. All the boys were trying to one-up each other with knife wounds, throwing up blood, a motorbike accident where they lost their head. I felt like my game was going off the rails when I taught them the word decapitated. Dokbua then asked what’s the word for fire. I was very confused and said fire is the word for fire. She said no when you have fire everywhere. She then lifted part of her shirt to show me burn marks all over her torso, shoulders, and back. I’ve never seen anything like it. Later I found out that Dokbua arrived at Baan Unrak with all five of her siblings and her mentally ill mother. They were escaping her father who was physically abusive to all of them. The mother wasn’t much better. None of the five children were able to communicate except for Dokbua. She was roughly 7. She had to steal food for the family, so they could eat. We don’t know how she got the burn marks all over her body. DiDi took all five of them in. I am not going to go into more detail because this is depressing enough but I will just say that DiDi had to almost completely rehabilitate them as if they were animals who had to learn how to be human. This is no easy task when there are five of them ranging in age from 12 to 2. But DiDi doesn’t take on easy tasks.
This is the girl that I had found I related to the most. Turns out I actually cannot relate at all. This average girl who loves the same things that I did at her age has seen atrocities that you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy. However, this place and these people are what made me believe that Dokbua was just your average 14-year-old. Baan Unrak is nothing short of a godsend to these children. It is a dream. It is a blessing. It is a safe haven. It is their home.
I am sure that you think I am going to ask for money for Dokbua or her siblings. But I am not. I want to raise money for something I personally find more important which is to leave Baan Unrak better than I found it. Because there are a hundred stories like Dokbua’s that have come through here. There will be a hundred more if DiDi has anything to do about it.
I have been here five months and have put a lot of thought into what would make a difference and I believe that would be a water filtration system. I want to get a water filter so that these kids can access clean water to brush teeth, clean their dishes, clothes and take showers with. Currently, we get all our water from the lake and the rain. We have a basic small filter, but it is old and doesn’t actually purify the water. In the middle of the jungle in Thailand clean water is expensive and a luxury. I have never thought about water in my life. Ever. The word luxury describes an expensive vacation to me, not clean water to shower with. Some of the children have had skin rashes, stomach issues and tooth decay because of the water not being clean. We have had a company come out to do a quote where they have cut the price significantly but for a system this big to be utilized by roughly 200+ people, it might as well be a million in Thailand.
Please go to my funding campaign and give what you can. I am setting a goal of $8,000 but I know we can do better. Share this, share my emails. Anything and everything will help.
There is nothing that I would love more than to hand over the money for this project to DiDi and tell her that it came from America and the best people that I know. I thank you all in advance for the help that you will do for these children and for DiDi.
Looking forward to seeing everyone soon – but let’s hit that goal first and then we can return to your regularly scheduled program of the Princess Diaries!