After class we went with Aj Nim to visit her "second family". Pi Jip started this “Second family” or “Virtual Family” at BCNC a year ago. Each faculty member has a group of students (1st
, & 4th
year) who “adopt” a family in the community for them to “care” for. Aj Nims family consists of 10 team members and a “needy” family of 4. The father is 76 years old and the mother is 74 years old
. The father has asthma and the mother has knee problems. They have two disabled sons: 44 and 42 years of age. Both boys developed, what appears to be Muscular Dystrophy, around 1 year of age. Neither of them can speak nor walk. They are extremely thin and contractured. The parents must care for them 24/7. The father and mother both receive 700 baht a month for pension (Total 1,400 baht). Because their sons are disabled, they receive 500 baht/each/month (Total 1000 baht). So, this family of 4 receives a total of 2,400 baht/month to live on. That is $80 month. Because the young men require constant care the parents are unable to leave the home for work or pleasure. The young men were lying on a cement floor with just a blanket separating them from the floor. The house consisted of a 3-room house: living room, 1 bedroom, and small bathroom. The kitchen was located outside under a wood lean-to. There was no refrigerator of any size and the clay pots for cooking were half deteriorated. This family is so poor. They had owned a piece of land that they farmed years ago but has since sold the land so they could build the current home that they are living in. The home seemed to be in ok condition but all of them were extremely thin. They elderly couple are having extreme difficulty in caring for their disabled sons. They have no assistive devices what so ever. They only have 1 wheelchair so they have to share that amongst the men. Because the couple cannot lift the young men into the wheelchair it is very seldom that they get a chance to do outside
. Basically, the young men just lay on the living room floor 24/7. This was truly a sad situation. Because Aj Nim has connections with the Thai military, she has recruited their assistance in installing a toilet and a ramp, which allows easier accessibility for the young men. The soldiers involved in this project were at the home upon our arrival. I donated some money and will try and see if I can get any donations from medical supply companies upon my return to the States.
After our visit we ate lunch at Fys Bakery. We went in the afternoon to visit another virtual family. This family has 5 family members. The son and daughter-in-law have 2 boys and are caring for the son's elderly mother. The elderly mother is 90 years old. Nine years ago her son died and she was never able to accept his death. She went into a deep depression. She stopped eating, stopped communicating and essentially stopped living. Over the years she has worsened and now she cannot walk. The daughter-in-law does everything for this lady. It appears as if she has dementia. She cannot perform ADLs, she forgets how to eat & drink, and all she does it sits and smiles. Because the house is on stilts, the daughter-in-law cannot get her up and down the stairs so they moved her down to the ground level and converted a storage area, beside where they store their vehicle, into a small one room sleep quarters. Because the area is removed from the rest of the house the son sleeps with his elderly mother
. So essentially the daughter-in-law cares for her during the day and the son cares for his mother at night. The son works occasionally during the day. He has a small rice field and garden where he grows food for the family’s use. He raises and trains cocks for “cock fighting”. He does this on the weekends. The elderly lady has skin breakdown several places and frequently injures herself. The daughter-in-law suffers from caregiver burnout. She is angry and frustrated with it all. She knows this is her duty as a wife but she has sacrificed her life for the past 9 years and wishes it were all over. The elderly lady has cardiovascular disease, hyperlipidemia and hypertension.
After this visit we went back to BCNC. My sick student is feeling better but now another student is getting sick. She has a sore throat and a fever so she was started on antibiotics right away since we have to travel in 3 days. I do not like to do this but since my other student improved with antibiotics and this student is coming down with the same symptoms, I decided to go ahead with it. We will be traveling soon and I want my group as healthy as possible. So, we will see how things go.
For dinner we had pizza and mango with sticky rice. After dinner all but my sick student went to the Thai Christian Bible study. The Thai Christians invited the MC students to participate in their Monday night sessions. They really enjoyed their time together. While I tried to catch up on my journaling this evening, the students worked on their slideshow for the Farewell Party tomorrow night and on their Digital Storytelling Project for the village. Tomorrow night we are having our Farewell Dinner. Pi Jip’s family will be there along with faculty, staff and BCNC & BCNU buddies. Tantawan will also be there, in fact, that will be our time to say goodbye. Wednesday she leaves for the village so we will not be seeing her at the airport on Thursday. She has already informed me that she will probably be crying.
Today BCNC is undergoing a 2-day site visit for accreditation. In Thailand the maximum length of accreditation is 5 years. Everyone has been diligently working on getting everything prepared for the site visitors. Since the college began the morning with the accreditation team, we did not get started with our activities until 10 am. So, the students and I had class for 2 hours this morning.