Pain and sadness filled Thiri’s voice as she told her story to the Compasio Community Team and BMS World Mission workers Brian and Lydia English.
Though hearing through translation, the Englishes could see Thiri holding back tears as she spoke.
A few years ago, Thiri’s husband left their home on the outskirts of Mae Sot to work in Bangkok, despite her protests.
During the years he lived in Thailand’s capital, Thiri heard nothing from him and his absence made working and caring for their daughter, Cho Cho, much more difficult.
“We hear a lot of stories from poor communities in Mae Sot, of men moving away to find work,” Brian says.
“Family breakdown is normal here,” Lydia says. “Sometimes, people won’t even get divorced; they’ll just separate and have new partners and families. Lots of people from this kind of community are so desperate for work that both men and women will move to big cities like Bangkok to find jobs.”
When Thiri’s husband returned home, he apologized for leaving and for failing to stay in contact.
Later, Thiri heard from her neighbors that while in Bangkok he had remarried and brought his new family to Mae Sot, not far from Thiri’s house.
Soon, Thiri realized that her husband planned to move in with them and wanted Cho Cho with him. Thiri refused to let him take her daughter.
Now she lives in constant fear that her estranged husband will come and steal Cho Cho away.
She has no family in the area who can watch Cho Cho, and her friends cannot afford to do it, which means working away from home is not an option for Thiri.
Though she earns money from making and selling curry, Thiri constantly worries about having enough and desperately needs another job to support the two of them.
To make matters worse, Thiri is often sick. It was in the hospital that BMS partner organization, Compasio, met Thiri and offered to look after Cho Cho until she recovered.
After bringing her back to her mother, Compasio saw the great need of this small family.
Compasio, in partnership with BMS, now delivers food to them two or three times a week and gives as much encouragement and support as they can.
They will also be helping her to find work once she recovers from her current illness.
Despite the tears running down her cheeks and the pain shining in her eyes, Thiri told Brian and Lydia that she is used to this life of fear and worry.
After only three weeks into their time in Mae Sot with Compasio, Brian and Lydia are thankful for their training from the International Mission Centre and from Compasio.
“Of course, your heart is involved and it’s sad but if you become too overwhelmed you stop being effective,” Lydia says. “We have to be realistic about all that we see.”
Compasio and the Englishes know that only so much can be done to fight the immense poverty in Mae Sot, and they will continue building relationships with people, supporting and encouraging struggling families and praying for each other and all those in need.
Editor’s note: Thiri and Cho Cho are not their real names. They are used to protect their identity.