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Ya and Ton: Isn’t It Better to Take Care of Someone?

Caring for someone comes with its challenges, yet it improves the lives of both the giver and the receiver, adding newfound significance to life.

Join Love on The Street to meet Ya and Ton, a homeless couple embarking on a long journey from Nong Bua Lam Phu to pursue jobs and opportunities in Bangkok. Time may pass, but their unbreakable bond keeps them tightly holding each other's hands.


From Nong Bua Lam Phu to the Disappointment in a Big City

Picture by Markus Winkler from Pixabay

Ya and Ton, using aliases, are residents of Nong Bua Lam Phu, aged 50 and 42, respectively. They have been living together since 2007 and have a son. Their life appeared typical of other families in the neighborhood until they made the decision to embark on a job-seeking journey in Bangkok.

However, life in the capital didn't unfold as beautifully as they had envisioned. When Ya and Ton secured jobs at a construction site, they fell victim to wage deception.

“We came from there (Nong Bua Lam Phu), right? We didn't have access to good education, and we're not super smart. So, those cleverer than us ended up tricking us. Like, we worked for 9 or 7 days, but they only paid us for 5 or 6 days.”

Ya voiced her dissatisfaction. Both she and Ton felt it was unfair when they had to work more than what they were paid for. So, they quitted and tried to find other jobs. They kept looking, but couldn't find the right one. Eventually, they ran out of money and ended up living on the street.

Once they became homeless, Ya and Ton experienced shifts in how others viewed and treated them, often encountering negative attitudes. They were subjected to gossip and criticism, reaching a point where Ya couldn't bear it anymore and exclaimed:

"Why are people so selfish these days? When we're unwell, they claim that homeless people like us deserve it. And when we try to work, they just laugh."


Adapting to Life in Public Spaces for Four Months

“We've been here for four months, selling stuff to make money. We still feel connected to this place and want to stay here. Selling things, like buying stuff for 15 baht and selling it for 20 baht, is how we earn money. Making one to two hundred baht each day is enough for us to get by. We also stand in line to get free food from the foundation.”

Ya explained how they make money after ending up homeless. They survive by receiving free food and earning income through selling items at a markup. The selling process involves buying second-hand goods, cleaning them, and then selling them at a higher price. Normally, Ton is a seller, while Ya occasionally takes a turn in this role.

In a single day, Ya assisted the foundation staff by washing dishes and cleaning the accommodation. She believed that women are better at handling household chores than men, and as an adult, she felt a responsibility to contribute to the foundation, which was why she volunteered for these chores. On the other hand, Ton has a more demanding role; in addition to selling goods, he has other responsibilities to attend to.

“He's more exhausted than I am. Being a man, he picks up things, throws away trash, and arranges the cart. Then, he goes to work at the temple, where he has a regular job.”

Ya praised Ton. The regular job Ya talked about involves cleaning up leaves and washing dishes. Even though the pay is not always consistent, it's still better than having no job at all.

"When I get money, we don't share. I'll keep it." Said Ton.

Ton is generally quiet, not one to talk much, but he appears to be kind. Ya then added that the reason Ton keeps the money is due to her own spending habits.

Ya admitted, "I struggle to save money. I usually spend it on various things, especially on food because I love to eat."

Ton listened and chuckled a bit. He commented that if Ya were the one in charge of the money, there wouldn't be any left. Despite the fact that Ton is the sole holder of the money, Ya mentioned that she can still ask for it. In times of illness, Ton will cover the cost of her medical treatment.


The Bond Makes Life Meaningful

"When living by oneself, it feels as if there's no connection, no sense of responsibility."

Ya shared her view on why she prefers living with her husband, even though some individuals may choose to live alone. According to Ya, having responsibilities is crucial, and Ton helped her understand her role and who she needs to care for. He is the person who gave meaning to her life.

"It might seem a bit tiring or even silly to have a partner. Some may consider getting married in this way foolish," Ya said jokingly. She stressed that despite the perception of having a partner being foolish, it's actually worthwhile. She also mentioned that she didn't have high expectations from Ton.

"Just having her by my side, showing concern for me, is enough," Ton expressed. He also shared that he cares for Ya, and for him, the foundation of their bond is the care he has for his wife, motivating him to work hard.


Let’s Return Home When We’re Ready.

"We're not facing any difficulties, and we're happy with our lives. However, if you're wondering whether we'll stay here permanently, we won't. We believe that, perhaps this month or the next, we might feel bored. At that point, we'll look for new opportunities or jobs. We prefer not to stay in this place for too long,"

Ya stated, as if expressing her acceptance of the current situation before being asked.

“We do have our own house, but we will go back there when we feel prepared.”

Ya emphasized, frequently mentioning their home, particularly her grown-up son living there. However, Ya and Ton have never discussed the reasons behind their hesitancy to return home.

Regardless of what lies ahead, Love on The Street hopes that Ya and Ton will find a home that warmly welcomes both of them.

English Translated by Hingsanthia S.


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