Ian McNamara

We care a lot

Life in the fast lane revisited

Let's face it the Bangkok Post is stuffing The Nation when it comes to wearing it's heart on it's sleeve and doing something for ‘the kids' TM. Barely a week goes by without seeing the face of a smiling shoeless, pre-teen pauper clad in school uniform gazing at me from the Outlook section.

Therefore this week I'll be switching from my usual role as ‘Mr Negative bastard' and metamorphosising into a caring 'Andrew Biggs' type persona. That's the one in which I say nothing but nice things and only allude to the unmentionable naughtiness that goes on here with a knowing smile and a sly lilt of the head.

Kids and their knowledge of the English language are the future of this country. I have a dream that one day every child will read the Nation Junior on a weekly basis but until that day comes you can sponsor a needy, English studying, Thai child simply by picking up the phone, dialing my number and giving me your credit card details.

Admittedly there have been cases where gullible do-gooders have adopted a malnourished, twiggy, third world kid, paid a pound a week for their vaccinations, schooling and education only to find that the street urchin had popper her clogs and they'd been supporting a corpse for the last few years. (No wonder she never appeared to age in her photos.) I guess I'd be ,understandably, suspicious in the future if I had supported Nong Lek until she was 8, only to find out that she was eaten by street dogs when she was 5, and that since then, her father had been living the high life on my 60 baht a week contributions.

Of course that would never happen with the ‘ We care the most' fund (cue knowing smile and sly nod of the head). To give you an example of the type of dedicated kids I'm looking to save, by giving a Nation Junior to every week, here's a taster to get your heart bleeding :

" Pornapa's mother didn't live long enough to teach her the ABC song. Luckily, Nong Pornapa's grandmother was on hand to provide her the fundamentals of English. The benefits of the countless hours Khun Yai spent drilling English phrases into the toddler's head could be seen in the language skills of the cheeky 7 year old whom I ran into outside the terraced awning Khun Yai and Nong Pornapa liked to call home.

"Hey you, farang. Buy me coke. Give me 10 ba . . . AAAAGGGHHHH ! ! " was the cry as Nong Pornapa ran into the path of my Landcruiser, in which I'd made the grueling 15 km journey along the dusty highway from Bang Na. As I handed over 5,000 baht to Khun Yai, and bought beer Changs for the guys wiping blood stains from the Landcruiser's bullbars, I reflected on what might have been if only Nong Pornapa had been sitting under the banana tree reading her ‘Nation Junior' instead of being allowed to run wild in the streets. If only someone had donated $9.95 a month this tragedy would never have occurred. Is that really too higher price to prevent the end of innocence?"

Every week a different deprived kid will be featured. Of course strict criteria have been laid down to ensure that no usurpers are allowed to benefit from the generosity of others. Hope giversTM, as I like to call those of you generous enough to lend a helping hand, should realize that we simply can't go around giving free subscriptions to all those from deprived families - a limit has to be drawn somewhere.

After a few days of deliberations it was decided to market this scheme to, what the sales department with their ‘Hey, we could easily sell this to advertisers'- attitude, like to call, the ‘pinnacle of the pitiable'.

I therefore pledge that all kids will be doe-eyed and will live alone with their grandmother, who, ideally, will be on her last legs. Any kids from families who earn over 20 Baht/day will automatically be excluded, as will those who don't possess a freshly laundered school shirt to be photographed in. Disfigured and non-photogenic offspring will likewise be excluded. A full money back guarantee will be offered to any donator, if blemishes on the child - previously put down to the after effects of leptospirosis, turns out to be nothing more than unpleasant acne scars.

Having said all this, I realize that to some paying $9.95 a month for four issues of a 10 Baht magazine may seem like a rip-off but, if that's your attitude, then your missing the point of the exercise.

Hope. Hope for the kids TM. How can you put a value on that?

Kids like Nong Pornapa (only still breathing) will read the Nation Junior and be filled with the hope that one day, they can speak sufficient English in order to get a job with a salary high enough to be able to afford a bottle of one of the high calcium, low fat, flavoured yoghurt drinks that are frequently advertised.


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