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  • Writer's pictureAngie Sullivan

Trauma to Triumph (Nop's Story)

Our family resource center opened in January of 2017. The families associated with GRACE began sharing with their friends and family and our registrations tripled within the first month. One such family invited their neighbor; they registered. The neighbor had cousins who joined the following week. Mid-February, the cousins’ mother met with our director. She had nephews in desperate need of GRACE.

Nop was only ten years old when we met him. A couple of years earlier, his mother abandoned their family of five to work in the local sex industry. His father, in an effort to obtain good karma (as is the Buddhist way) for the family, became a monk residing in a local temple. Nop's toddler sister was sent to another province to live with their grandmother (mom's mom) and he immediately became the caregiver of his eight year old brother. They were abandoned and all semblance of family was broken.

The red light district looms near, attracting vulnerable families who are struggling financially to provide for their loved ones. A vice to society and seductive of wealth, it entraps many impoverished, illiterate, and hopeless individuals. The lures of provision, escape, and hope encapsulate its victims.

The routine of monks in the temple is to begin walking the community at sunrise in order to collect their offerings of food and money. They return to the temple before noon to collectively consume the food gathered that morning. The afternoons are spend praying and fasting. The cycle repeats each day.

Nop and his younger brother were allow to stay at the temple, with restrictions. They attended the temple school but without the use of books and supplies. After school, the boys would return to the temple where they were expected to fast. Both became very malnourished.

As previously mentioned, their aunt learned of the family resource center through a neighbor and enrolled her three children. The next week she convinced her brother to allow for Nop and Nu to attend and they began immediately.

They were socially underdeveloped and their excitement was seemingly uncontrollable as they entered the center to access games, toys, trampoline time, and kids from various backgrounds.

They were academically underdeveloped. They had no experience completing school assignments; their assignments were waived due to their father’s status as monk at the associated temple.

They were nervous to attempt English language lessons but were encouraged by the other children and staff. They received affirmation and grace as they began new studies.

They were fed dinner each evening which began a steady expectation for nutrition. The center provided food for the aunt to feed them throughout the weekends. Soon, they entered with giant smiles on their faces in the setting of their GRACE family.

Four months later, the boys moved in with their grandmother, at which time their

younger sister joined them. Khwan was enrolled at GRACE upon starting kindergarten. They were together and happy.

Supporters of GRACE provided sponsorship to enhance Nop’s educational, nutritional and wellness development. Provision included school uniforms, supplies, books, wellness care with eye examinations, nutritional supplies for his family, a bicycle for transportation to/from school, trips to the sheep farm and a cruise ship exploration, and much more. He was developing and establishing himself as a leader among his peers.

Then, he was gone.

Our GRACE family staff and children were broken. We missed him. We hurt for him.

At 12 years old, Nop was commissioned to be a novice monk by his father. He moved into a monastery three provinces northeast of home. This would be his plight throughout the next few years.

In an attempt to encourage the GRACE staff, I reminded them of Nop’s joy in hearing and learning the stories of Jesus. I was encouraged. I asked them to join me in praying for Nop; specifically, that as he is sitting in quietness and required meditation, the Holy Spirit will remind him of the truths he learned and the love he received while attending GRACE.

Nu and Khwan were devastated. Their countenance diminished and encouraging them became near impossible. Nu reluctantly obeyed his father’s commission for him to become a novice monk. Their mother re-established her relationship with Khwan during the pandemic shutdown of 2020-2021. She returned to the sex industry in 2022. Khwan was broken; abandoned, again.

Nop completed his journey as a novice monk in December of 2022. He received a certificate but not an education. Upon returning home, he contacted the director of GRACE. He was eager to reestablish with his GRACE family. Nop will soon celebrate his 17th birthday. He works at a local hotel restaurant and attends a local technical school on the weekends to complete assignments required for a high school diploma equivalency certificate. He desires to complete technical college studies in hotel management.

Nop reached out desiring to meet with me during my recent time in Thailand. He expressed his gratitude and appreciation for GRACE and the family he has been provided through us. He acknowledged the blessing of opportunity and love.

Nop reconnected with our staff to study the English language in order to advance his career opportunities.

Nop triumphs and exhibits the denotation of “Once GRACE Family, Always GRACE Family”.

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