Regular readers with a good memory will remember a young lady by the name of Joy being mentioned a lot when we were living in Ubon Ratchathani. She came from the village and we employed her as a nanny/house keeper when we were busy getting Peppers up and running.
She lived with us and became part of our family and the girls obviously loved her a lot.
Was she a good nanny? Not really.
Was she a good cook? No!
Could she clean the house to my darling wife’s satisfaction? No!
Despite all her short comings we kept her on because a) we needed her and b) she never did anything wrong – just never did anything really right!
Towards the end of her employment she starting playing up though. She discovered alcohol and started leaving the house whenever I was home to go drinking with friends and she had obviously become friendly with a boy back in the village so she was missing him and spent all her money on phone credit or booze. The drinking never affected her job so although I was disappointed it didn’t worry me too much but Seerung was furious. It came to a head one night and Joy decided she would go back to the village for a few days. She never returned and she was never asked too. This is a typical Thai way of leaving/being sacked without anyone losing too much face.
So why am I telling you all of this now? Well a few people have asked me what happened to her and just the other day I saw her again for the first time in 10 months. A lot had changed!
Not only had she married the young fella I just mentioned but she had also become pregnant and given birth to a boy about 6 weeks ago. Seerung is still pretty dark on her but the girls and I still got a little present together to give to her which I know was appreciated.
Here is a photo of baby Leo as well as one of my girls and ex Nanny Joy admiring the new baby in his hammock.
This little story is something that we see repeated over and over again in the village. People given a chance to earn some money, get together a few skills and what I guess would be considered ‘get ahead in life’ but blowing the opportunity.
Am I wrong in thinking this?
We have employed three young girls from the village during our time here and given them more then one chance when they have stuffed up. We have had them live in our house, paid them the going rate plus a little more and considered them part of our family. They were given jobs well within their capabilities and were also very aware that if they showed promise then management positions were not to far away. All three girls blew it because of laziness, alcohol, drugs, boys or a combination of some or all of them.
All three girls are now back in the village, avoid Seerung and are all unemployed.
You might say that ‘getting ahead in life’ is a western view on things and I would have to agree with you to some extent. The problem is however that the village cannot handle the extra pressure that these people bring. They are not making anymore land yet families continue to grow with each generation. Farms keep getting split and then split again to be handed down as the old people pass away. There is now not enough land to go around for people to grow enough food for their family.
There is an extremely high chance of Joy and her husband leaving their child to be raised by a grandmother who does not have enough money or control to raise the kid in the right way resulting in another generation of dysfunctional kids that society need to deal with. The parents will do this as they will have to go to Bangkok to work as almost slave labour on a building site or heaven forbid, a brothel just to survive. Others will go overseas for employment leaving families at home for years at a time. A lot of these people are ripped off and abused while overseas. Some never return and are never heard of again.
What is the answer to all this? Well one answer I guess is teaching kids that opportunities don’t always throw themselves your way. Grab them while you can. Three families could have been changed for ever and mostly for good if those three girls were able to think of the future instead of just whatever day they happened to be living in when they were working for us. What else can we do? Maybe I just worry to much and should become more Thai in my approach to life! Would love to read your thoughts anyway.
When I started this post I never intended to type all of the above – it was just going to be a post about what happened to Joy and her new baby but obviously it worries me enough that the fingers just kept on typing! Another subject that horrifies me currently is the death and AIDS rate in the village but I will blog separately about that once I have some more accurate figures.