Sixteen-year-old Somsak spends his afternoons catching fish to feed his family. After his father died Somsak became the man of the house but thanks to his Compassion sponsor, he can still attend school.
Somsak burrows deep in his blankets, drawing the last bit of warmth before crawling out of bed and walking across the cold dirt floor. He crouches, shivering, as he builds a fire in a small pit. Soon he hears his mother and grandmother awaken, and he hurries to place a pot of rice on the glowing coals.
After a breakfast of rice and bananas, Somsak leaves his one-room wood house and runs to catch the bus to school. As the bus bumps through the dusty streets of Pa Mieng, Somsak stares out of his window at the rice paddies that surround his village. Dozens of Somsak's friends slog through the water, and Somsak is reminded again of God's provision. He knows that it is only by God's grace that he has not joined his peers in the rice harvest.
When his father died Somsak became the man of the house. For many of the 1.4 million orphans living in Thailand, that means dropping out of school and working full time to support themselves and their remaining family. But Somsak attends the Compassion-assisted Than Namthip Doi Sakede Student Center (TH-303), and his outlook on life is drastically different from the millions of children who become breadwinners because of poverty. Attending the center created a belief that through Compassion God would give Somsak the strength to provide for his family without giving up his dream to finish high school.
"God provides for us," says Somsak. "He fills my nets with fish, and the support I get from my sponsor means that my mother doesn't have to pay for my school. God is taking care of us."
After school, Somsak walks home through the woods so he can check his handmade traps for rats, which his mother will cook for dinner. On the weekends, he wades into the chilly water at a nearby river and spends hours tossing out a worn net and catching fish to sell. With the money he earns, he buys rice for his mother and grandmother.
Despite Somsak's adult responsibilities, he still finds time to be a teenager. Each Saturday, he looks forward to spending the afternoon at the student center. For a few hours, he can forget forget that he is the primary provider for his family, that if he doesn't catch fish his mother and grandmother will be hungry. At the center, he's just a boy, painting a picture in an art class or playing soccer with his best friend, Jang.
A Day of Rest
On Sunday morning, Somsak rests. He and his family attend church together, and Somsak leads music for the youth group. He hangs out with friends from the student center, then rushes home to join his mother and grandmother for lunch. A dish of fish and rice sits on the table the result of Somsak's time at the river the day before.
Somsak and his family sit at the small wooden table, their plates heaped with steaming food, and bow their heads. His mother prays aloud, thanking God for a dedicated son and God's provisions, which got them through another week.
What did you like about this story?