"When you see her, when you meet her, you'll understand why we need to help her. Maybe you'll get an idea for what she needs." I entered the situation slightly uninformed. The only briefing I received was that this woman from the garbage dump was pregnant, due any day, and she was sick.
I first saw her from far away. She looked like she should have given birth weeks ago. She still worked, sorting through the garbage, looking for anything of value. We approached her and she slowly led us to her house. If this woman was in America she would have been assigned to bed rest weeks ago I thought to myself. But there is no such thing as bed rest here, if she can't work, she can't feed her children.
Her home was small and humble. Bamboo slats tied together with twine was their floor and bed, and tarps lined the bamboo frame of the roof. The walls were decorated with knick knacks; a Buddha calendar, a photo of the King, anything of beauty they've found in the garbage. This one small platform was where she slept with her two young children. Stench rose from the cracks in the floor, trash, mud, and excrement lay underneath. She invited us inside and we perched with our feet hanging over the edge. A pig snorted through the trash below.
As I spoke to this woman, and saw her worn and worried face, I couldn't even fathom being in her situation. She has had four husbands. They have all either died or left her. She has two young children to care for. She lives in a garbage dump. She's pregnant with a child who's father is just a memory. I guess in some ways, that's the story of every migrant that lives in Mae Sot. As we left, I said to her, "Sister. We're here for you. We're going to do everything we can to make sure you and your family are cared for. Please don't be afraid, we are your friends. You're not alone"
When she went into labor we took her to Mae Tao Clinic. It was there we discovered that she has HIV. The situation we thought had been bad had just gotten worse. I don't know much about HIV, but I believe that someone who's been diagnosed has only a matter of time before their immune system becomes unable to fight off viruses. This woman who lives in a neighborhood of garbage is so susceptible to quickly falling ill and dying from a common cold or open sore.
I've been to visit her in the hospital a few times. She sits with her baby. She is quite. I tell her how beautiful her baby is, how she is going to have a wonderful life and her face breaks into a small smile.
"Do you want her? Will you take her? I cannot keep her."
Jesus. Oh Jesus. Let your presence fill this town. Let your Love overwhelm every heart. Let there be Justice and Mercy. Give these people something to hold onto. Something that goes above their situations and circumstances. Be the Father to the Fatherless; the Husband to the Widow; the Hope of this Nation.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.