|   Posted: March 09, 2017

With no stable income and little knowledge of child care, Compassion Survival could be the answer for him.

Somporn Fairuay

With no stable income and little knowledge of child care, Compassion Survival could be the answer for him.

Somporn, a single father, holding his daughter

Home Country: Thailand

Occupation: Tour guide at an elephant camp and father to Pidsinee.

Life Goal: “I want to be a good father to my daughter. That is all.”

When Somporn lost his wife, there was one thing that kept him going — his 4-month-old daughter. Together, the two would need to learn how to survive.

A Father’s Love

Think of the roller coaster of emotions for a first-time father. Elation at seeing his child for the first time. Fear the first time he holds her, wondering if he will break her. And a dizzying blend of hope and panic as he thinks about her future.

Somporn was no different than any first-time father. He was 22 when daughter Pidsinee was born, and he and his wife, Sopak, marveled at their baby girl. Their fear over how they would provide for her was eclipsed by their love — both for her and for each other.

That bliss lasted just four short months. Sopak contracted Japanese encephalitis, a mosquito-borne disease. Doctors were unable to help her, and before Somporn could even understand what was happening, he was left a single father, alone to raise his little girl.

“I could think of nothing, just wondering how it all happened,” says Somporn. “It was like a dream. How could one die so easily?”

Many fathers in Somporn’s situation would have left their children with other family members to raise. After all, he had no experience raising a child. He knew nothing about what little Pidsinee needed — what to feed her or how to care for her.

But something made Somporn stay. He was overwhelmed by grief and nearly drowning in his sorrow. But he couldn’t leave her. Because there, in little Pidsinee, was the last flicker of his wife.

In the weeks following Sopak’s death, Somporn was despondent. He barely spoke to his neighbors, and even little Pidsinee was quiet, as though she was also grieving for her mother.

One of Somporn’s neighbors, Phongphet, noticed both the father’s sadness as well as his complete lack of knowledge about how to provide for Pidsinee.

“He seemed lost,” says Phongphet. “When I saw this, I suddenly thought of (Compassion Survival), where I worked. With no stable income and little knowledge of child care, this program could be the answer for him!”

As the director of Compassion Survival at Bethania Church, a Compassion program serving young mothers and their children, Phongphet had seen many families in his village dramatically helped by the church. But they were all mothers. How would Somporn, the only father to attend the program, feel?

Somporn feeding his daughter a bottle
Somporn playing with his daughter outside
Somporn cares for an elephant

In a word, Somporn felt accepted. Although it was hard for him as the only male, he had the support of Phongphet as well as the pastor at the church. While he declined the weaving and sewing classes, he was eager to attend parenting workshops where he learned practical skills such as making a bottle and how to bathe little Pidsinee. Staff also helped him learn agricultural skills so he could farm a small plot of land near the family’s home.

“Raising Pidsinee has not been easy,” says Somporn. “If I were to do it by myself, I would never have made it on my own. But with the help from CSP ... life is getting better.”

It has been five years since Somporn lost his precious wife. Today, he travels to a neighboring town to work as a tour guide at an elephant camp. Little Pidsinee is now in preschool and has graduated to Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program. While her father works she stays with her grandparents.

It’s hard for Somporn to be away from his daughter, but he knows he needs to provide for her. And he believes that the Compassion staff are looking out for her, making sure she is taken care of. He will do everything he can to make sure his little girl escapes the life of poverty into which she was born.

It’s what any father would do.