SUKHOTHAI — Before going to school every morning, ten-year-old Geng cooks, feeds, and bathes his parents, who have not been unable to leave their beds for years.
He also sweeps and cleans his family’s one-story house, washes the dishes, does the laundry, and empties his parents’ bedpans.
And this is just the beginning of his day. As the only child left at home, Geng has assumed full responsibility for taking care of his parents, who have been bedridden for almost a decade. Geng’s 52-year-old mother was paralyzed from the waist-down after a car accident in 2007, and his father, 47, developed full-scale paralysis after a having a seizure ten ago.
Geng, whose full name is Chanatip Soiphrai, hurries home from school every lunch break to feed his parents. He also takes up menial jobs after school and on the weekends.
"If there is some money left, he gives 20 baht or 30 baht to me for keeping," said Geng's mother Nid Srimueang. "I feel so sorry for my son for having to bear so much burden at his age. But I don't know what else I can do."
Geng’s mother is still able to move her upper body and speak freely, but his father, Noppadol Soiphrai, can only move and communicate with his hands.
"I can only give my moral support to my son," Mrs. Nid said. "I want him to be strong and grow up to be a good man."
Despite this extraordinary burden, Geng said he is not tired by his duties or sad about not being able to play with friends after school.
Asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Geng replied cheerfully, "I want to be a soldier, so I can protect the people and the country."
The director of Geng's school, Prasertsri Tepanwong, described Geng as a bright student and said the school administration is well aware of his family's plight. The school has helped buy lunches and school supplies for Geng, as well as provide him with small jobs for pay, she said.
Ms. Prasertsri added that the school administration has opened a bank account in Geng's name to help raise money for his family.
Those who wish to donate to Geng should contact his homeroom teacher at 087-204-4727, or transfer the money directly to Geng's Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives account at 020036549718 (Registered under the name "Fund to help the family of Chanathip Soiphrai", Tha Chai branch).
Correction: The previous version of this article incorrectly identified Geng's bank account as Government Savings Bank. The mistake has been fixed.
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