The Phone Call

Top's mother called us tonight asking if he had gone home yet.  It took me off guard at first, Top lives with his grandparents.  He told me that his dad died when he was in kindergarten and that he rarely sees his mom. But then I realized who this woman was; she was a desperate mother who didn't know what was going on in her son's life.

It's so easy to judge the parents who have a abandoned their kids in the countryside, but until you walk a mile in their shoes you really can't even begin to comprehend what they are going though.

We got to talking and Top's Mom, who had been following the gym on Facebook, was worried he would be a burden on us, worried he would be a difficult or stubborn kid.  She admitted that she didn't even really know her son anymore, and she wasn't proud of it.  Her biggest fear was that Top would fall prey to the drugs, alcohol and gang violence that she had first hand experienced growing up in the underdeveloped and isolated village where we built the gym.

Top's grandfather is an alcoholic and his grandma has already given up.  His mom, working in a factory, sends money home when she can, but it is almost always never enough. She was worried that she couldn't afford the gym, even though she knew her son was happy there.

So I told her what we're about.   I told her that the gym was free, and we were here to help and to ease the burden for her.  She couldn't believe it.

Something in the village to help kids and their families?  It was like a dream, something definitely not around when she was in school.  She was so happy for us, and for the support we were offering her kid.  

I respect her so much.  For taking the time to call us, to open up the way she did.  She's trying to make ends meets, and in the process it's her kids who are suffering.  She told us that she believes in us, that she is grateful and that she is proud her son is doing something...anything but drugs.

Boom and I again want to thank the support of our corporate sponsors: Booster Fight Gear, CNEXS Wear, and Smart Partners, in addition for the support of on monthly donors whom without which we wouldn't be here.

The New Kid

It's been almost two weeks since King first showed up at our gym.  His grandma didn't even have a motorcycle to bring him, instead she had to borrow her brother's.  King's grandma works at a restaurant in Phutthaisong where we live.  She's a hard working woman, albeit a little timid.  One day when I was enjoying my sam-tam, complete with fermented fish and much needed probiotics, she asked if she could bring her grandson to the gym.  I said, of course.  But deep down I felt this was just another empty offer. Everybody wants to train, or wants their kids to train, but rarely are they willing to put in the effort involved.

A month had passed and I completely forgot about her offer and then one day out of no where, there she was with King.  Boom grabbed some Booster shorts for him and send him on the bag.  The grandma watched patiently, as if it was some sort of try out, quietly interjecting bits of King's story to me as I sat and watched.

King has no father, and his mother is gone working.  No one is caring for him at home, and there isn't enough money to go around.  King recently ordained as a novice monk for over a year, and when he completed his ordainment decided that he didn't want to go back to school but instead pursue his GED.

For his grandma, what did she want for her grandson more than anything else?

"I don't want people to look down on him."

With no motorcycle at home, and no one to send him to the gym, we told King that he could come live with us, but didn't expect it to stick.  To say I was surprised, when he showed up later that night with his bag, was an understatement.  

So now, here he is.  Travelling all over the region with us as we fight, grow, and pursue dreams together.  He's got incredible promise as a fighter, but what is more is that he's got a chance at a better life.  We are here to offer him guidance, structure, and a safe environment where he can flourish into adulthood.  

And while I am so grateful that we can help him, I can't help but feel a little saddened by the fact that in the past two weeks no one has called or checked up on him.  King's story is not unique to the area; it is more common than not.  It's so humbling to be here; empowering children through Muay Thai.  Through this journey I have realized that one of the biggest things holding children back is the reluctancy of their parents or care givers to push, inspire, and facilitate their Muay Thai journey.  King's grandma did something amazing for her grandson, and I hope one day we can return the favour to her.

We want to again thank our monthly donors and corporate sponsors for the opportunities you are creating for kids like King.  
Special thanks to Abigail Sitmonchai for the heart warming photos.