I’ve made more trips to the hospital this past month, than I have in three years of living in Thailand. As a stern reminder of what it’s like to live in poorer Bangkok communities, two of my students have been the victims of motorcycle accidents because of reckless driving.
The first of the accidents happened when a student named Tham was struck from behind by motorcycle while she was walking. The impact sent the nine year old flying into a nearby wall. The concussion she suffered caused her brain to swell and she spent two days in the ICU. When her condition improved she was moved into a crowded hospital room where we were finally able to visit. There we talked with her some while she peered at us through the only eye that wasn’t swollen shut.
Not long after Tham was hit, we learned of a more tragic accident involving a student in Yommorat, the community along the railroad tracks. Usna (oohse-na), one of our regular Saturday kids, was on the way home from school when her and her brother took a motorcycle taxi. She was unaware the driver was drunk and when he failed to stop before the oncoming train, the tail of the bike was clipped by the train and the children were thrown off. One of Usna’s legs was caught underneath the train and had to be amputated below her knee.
Tham has since been released from the hospital and rejoined us on Saturdays. Everyone is glad to have her back, especially her friends and classmates who visited and decorated cards wishing she would get well. She’s not as energetic as before, but still just as sharp and shows up to class in a skull cap while her hair is growing back. For Usna, there’s a much longer road to recovery ahead and she will likely spend more than a month in the hospital. Despite the circumstances, however, everyone has been impressed with her toughness. Which is important as she must cope with more physical challenges such as the healing of her wound, a skin graft, and eventually learning to walk with a prosthetic limb.
Two bright students from two different communities. They don’t know each other and aren’t in very close proximity. Yet, their neighborhoods are plagued by the same issues. Sad, unfair and enraging, these aren’t the types of stories I like to share, but they do offer a glimpse into the difficulties of growing up in the communities we’re serving and exemplify why these children benefit from any love and encouragment we can offer in our time with them.
We’re doing more to help Usna and her family during her hospital stay. Because we don’t want to see her fall behind in her school work, we’ve hired a tutor to come and teach her a few times a week. We’ve also given the family $100, a small gift to help with incidental expenses (the majority of her hospital bill is covered by the Thai government). If you’d like to help, make a donation like normal, but email me (email@example.com) directly to let me know it’s for Usna and her family.