On the right is Taiy. He is a young English teacher in the village of Inburi, Thailand. We took this photo a year in to our friendship. It is special to me because it helps me remember that, no matter what, Taiy is always smiling.
Taiy’s parents supported him and his younger brother anyway they could: Selling soup on the street, fixing motorbikes, making handicrafts. It wasn’t always enough, but they got by. More importantly they gave their sons a lesson that would be learned by myself and the countless others who have been lucky enough to come to know them: No matter the circumstance, there is always a reason to smile.
I met Taiy while working in a neighboring village as an English teacher as well. It was a difficult time. A mutual friend had died suddenly, and we came upon each other during her funeral. I was struck by the joy Taiy was spreading with those around him. I was struck by his smile, even as tears streamed down his face.
Taiy and I became close. I learned more about the Thai culture, improved my language, and became more comfortable with myself as a foreigner in his country. More than this, I became comfortable with my own skin.
Taiy showed me that there is an immense joy in this world, if we simply pause for a moment and pay attention. He never lectured me, never delivered any profound speach. He simply lives and loves. He feels the joy and pain of everyone he comes in to contact with. I watched as tears came easily for him as he bought food for street children in Bangkok. Likewise his eyes welled up with happiness when I anounced I received a job I had been trying to get for months.
And he did this, consistently tapping in to the needs of everyone and anyone in front of him, with so very little. With the joy he carries everywhere he goes, it was always too easy to forget the poverty he and his family lived in. And, it was easy to forget the weight he carried when his parents could no longer, and the subsequent responsibilities he took on to care for his disabled brother.
A couple months ago Taiy’s brother became ill. The few resources Taiy and his parents had went to medical care. It was a brain tumor. Taiy worked as much as he could to support the new expense. His spare time was spent by his brother’s bedside and at the temple, making merit and praying for a miracle.
It wasn’t enough.
The community came together for the funeral, as is custom in Inburi province. But now, though Taiy won’t say it, I know he is struggling. On top of the grief we all have to struggle through when we lose a loved one, Taiy has to also figure out a way to take care of his parents and himself after the depletion of the very little resources he had.
And I don’t believe this is right.
I believe when we come across someone who is literally changing the world, one person at a time through unconditional love, we must do everything we can to help that person in their time of need. Taiy has taught me that we can choose every moment of every day to give joy, love, and respect to every person we touch. I have a long way to go but he has showed me it is possible.
Though money is far from the most important thing in Taiy’s life, I know it can help him. It could relieve the financial burden he carries for himself and his family right now. It can give him time to cope. It can give him time to shine a little more light in to his own darkness, as he has done for so many.
In short, Taiy deserves it.
I do not have much, but I will match dollar-for-dollar every donation made up to $500. The goal of $3,000 is roughly what Taiy earns in 6 months of work as a teacher in his province. This would free up the burden of housing costs for his parents, fuel costs, food, travel to see and comfort family, etc for this period of time.
The attached photo was taken by a friend as Taiy held his brother’s hand in the hospital.
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