Walking with Wa through Sickness and “Recovery”
Much of the last few months our time (especially Iven’s) has been spent being a friend to Wa, the homeless man we have mentioned before who we are closest to here on the streets. Wa lost his wife, daughter, business, home and the fingers on his right hand when the tsunami hit Thailand in 2004. It stole his hope and reason for living and because of that he has now spent much of the last six years living on the streets and seeking solace in alcohol. We have known Wa for nearly 2 years and have shared a lot of life with him. In November he started to get sick with continuous diarrhea (not at all uncommon among the homeless community) but after a couple weeks he was weak enough that Iven took him to a hospital.
He was promptly admitted, and then released (while still very ill), and than admitted again. All in all he ended up in a giant shared hospital room for more than 3 weeks. Iven visited him nearly every day (one other friend visited him once as well). For a while it looked like we might lose him – the doctors were very concerned – his body had gone into shock twice and his systems seemed to be shutting down without any identifiable reason.
We asked people to pray and within a week things turned around. He was released just before Christmas, and has been steadily gaining back some of the weight he lost during his illness. Though he still is weak and struggling with chronic health problems (alcohol related liver disease, etc.) for now his health is fairly stable. He spent almost all of January free from alcohol but just this week begin drinking again. It is sad and hard to see him stuck in this cycle but we know that this is the reality of people in his situation. All we can do is pray and continue to love him – hoping and asking God to help him “wake up” and shake free from alcoholism for good before it kills him.
Being a friend to Wa – bringing him food he liked to eat while in the hospital, visiting him, helping him get the most basic items needed to live on the street (all of his things were stolen while he was sick), and just trying to remind him to hope and keep fighting would seem like a waste of time and energy to many people. Wa doesn’t have much worth in the eyes of society. He told us recently that when he panhandles though people do give him money they pretty much never talk to him – he figures they are afraid of him, afraid he is “dirty”. We know, though, that he is incredibly valuable in the eyes of God and as our friend as well.
Wa loves Izayla, too. While walking with him through a local used goods night market a few months ago he felt inspired to buy her a 10 baht (30 cent) stuffed carrot toy (he also got a gift for another little girl who was looking longingly at the toys but had no money). It was a meaningful sacrifice for him to be able to give a little something back to our family and a reminder of how truly generous the poor can be.