For those that have even remotely followed the story of Hands Across the Water, the charity that I founded after working in Thailand identifying the bodies of those who died following the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, you will have heard me speak of a remarkable young man by the name of Watahana Sittirachot or as he is known to us Game.
Game’s story of how he came to be at Baan Tharn Namchai the first of the homes that we built after the tsunami is not that dissimilar to many of the other children. Without parents he found himself living with a relative who was unable to support him and at the age of 12 he was told he would have to leave school and work to support himself or leave the home in which he was living.
On notifying the school of this he was introduced to Khun Rotjana the Director of Baan Tharn Namachi. Instead of leaving school and more than likely committing himself to a life of low pay and manual intensive work, he left the home in which he was living and moved into Baan Tharn Namchai. Upon arriving at the home, he was welcomed into the home and returned to school, which is where all 12 year olds should be.
What happened thereafter was really in the hands of Game. He was presented with an opportunity, as many of us are in our lives and it’s what we do at different times that can define us or at the very least shape our future.
Game returned to school and worked hard completing the work that was required. He progressed through junior school, finished high school and then enrolled in University. Last year he completed his studies and graduated with a Law Degree.
Today he celebrated that graduation and received his Bachelors Degree accompanied by Khun Rotjana, the mother he has known for the past eleven years and a number of his “brothers and sisters” from Baan Tharn Namchai.
I spoke with Khun Rotjana on the phone from Sydney, saddened I couldn’t be there in person and she told me about what an example Game is for the children of Baan Tharn Namchai. Personally I think he is an example to children not just within the homes that we support and not just within Thailand, but the adversity he faced and triumphing in spite of that adversity, surely he is an example for many children regardless of where they live.
It’s not that he completed a University degree that stands out as the measure of success here, but the commitment he has shown to his studies and equally to the community at Baan Tharn Namchai. During University holidays he would return and spend time with the children who look up to him as an older brother. He stands as a role model to the kids who have faced some horrible beginnings in their life as to what can be achieved with commitment.
Game now works at Baan Tharn Namchai as the Deputy Director, but it is a post he will soon leave. He is to travel to Australia to spend a further three months studying English before returning to Thailand where he will take up the position of General Manager of Hands Across the Water in Thailand. In addition to his new position he will also return to University to study his masters degree.
We’re all incredibly proud of Game in what he has achieved and the support he has received from Khun Rotjana. If ever there was an example required of the benefits of a long term commitment delivering long term results its here in Game’s achievement.
Game is the first from our homes to complete university, but there are many others following right behind in the path he was beaten down and laid for others. Hands Across the Water is now supporting 43 other kids from across our homes who are all at university today. This is part of our long term commitment and it will deliver long term results.
Today we celebrate Game and his achievements and look forward to many more in the years ahead.
We all have dreams and aspirations and some of them we share with others and some we don’t. Some remain unfilled because the path ahead seems too long, too hard or unchartered. Or simply we don’t dedicate the time to ourselves to fulfil our own dreams and aspirations because we’re too busy helping others fulfil theirs.
What can you do today that brings you a step closer to achieving your dreams? It might be a long or difficult road, but with a long term commitment, just like Game, when you take that first step you get closer. Then it takes courage to remain true to that course when there are many reasons to stop, give up or go back to easy, but that's not the path of those who succeed, just like Game.