An inspiring story of sacrifice and hope

IMG_1619We were entranced when we met 3-year-old Gaa at the Good Shepherd Sisters Hands of Hope sewing center in Nang Khai, Thailand during our Together We Can Change the World visit.

Gaa is an exuberant child, full of energy and laughter. He was the only child at the center as it’s for the adults working there.

So Gaa stood out as he played quietly by himself, or with us when we approached him. Soon after our arrival, I inflated a large pink balloon and presented it to him. I enjoyed watching his glee as he batted it around then hung on to it protectively.

I asked our guide why he was there since there were no other children present. I was told his story.

His grandmother, Bungorn, began working at Hands of Hope in 2005 when the project opened. She had been recently widowed – her husband died from AIDS-related infections and she herself was HIV+. Thankfully her young children were not infected.

When her daughter Gae became pregnant at 15, Bungorn moved her children from their village near Nong Khai to another province to stay with relatives where Gae gave birth to Gaa. There, while Gae found work locally, Bungorn stayed at home to look after Gaa.

Every three months when Bungorn returned to Nong Khai for her medical appointments and ARV medicine, she would visit Hands of Hope, collect work to take with her and receive payment for previous work. She worked conscientiously, cutting and pasting intricate designs with perfection.

It was difficult for Bungorn to live away from home and she missed her friends. She decided to return to Nong Khai and would raise Gaa – a common practice in Thailand when mothers need to work.

Bungorn returned to Hands of Hope with Gaa and brings him to the center. He delights the many doting “aunties” and “uncles” who shower him with affection and attention. In such a stimulating environment he has developed language skills and an interest and joy in life.

TWCCTW colleague Paul Larsen plays with Gaa

Thanks to the open-mindedness of the Good Shepherd Sisters and the foresight of Gae and Bungorn to do what is best for Gaa, he has a much different life than if he had stayed with Gae, or if Bungorn had stayed in the far-away village raising him.

It’s inspiring to see how much love is bestowed on this little one and the joy he gives others. All of this is possible because of others who sacrifice to make his life better.


We have begun fundraising for our May/June visit to more TWCCTW projects. I have committed to raising $1000 before the trip. If you’d like to help me achieve this goal, please go to and enter my name in the notes section when you get to the PayPal page. Thanks!