Here at Warm Heart, our Project Access program exists to serve the elderly, malnourished and disabled population in the Phrao district. Each person in the program leaves a distinct impression on the volunteers and staff that assist them. While we visit them weekly due to their poor health, old age and lack of proper nutrition, Tip and Theap are two Public Health patients that have continued to inspire those that spend time with them.
Here’s a look into a typical visit with these two inspiring people through the eyes of a volunteer.
It starts off with the two of them waiting at the front door with smiles so wide that they are impossible to ignore.
We greet them with the traditional Wai and give them a little food for the week, including some multivitamins that a volunteer has labeled with gender-specific stick figures.
Tip had adorably been giving his wife both of their vitamins, unaware that there was a difference in the two.
Volunteer Ashley Ward asks them how they’ve been this week, and Tip chuckles, telling us his wife has been unusually energetic and hungry.
“She loves to eat,” he says. Theap has been nonverbal for about three years, so she responds as she usually does – with a wide smile and a firm “dow!”
Tip and Theap are prime examples of what true love looks like – after 46 years together, he still beams at the memory of how they met.
In a village not far from where we sit with them now, twenty-eight year old Tip attended a traditional performance at the temple.
That’s where he was struck by one of the dancers. “She was so beautiful,” he said of the then thirty-four year old Theap. At the celebratory meal following the performance, the two were sitting at separate tables, but Tip couldn’t keep his eyes off of the beautiful dancer. He worked up the courage to move his seat to sit next to her, and the rest is history.
In their many years of marriage, the pair had three children. One lives in northeastern Thailand, while another son passed away after a long battle with alcoholism.
Another son, a Buddhist monk, moved to the United States twenty years ago. He has not contacted them since.
Warm Heart’s photographer, Jayni Jedlicka, takes their photo. She shows Theap, whose smile grows even wider. Tip is proud to show us the success of the green bean seeds we gave him the week prior.
To have so little, the couple is so incredibly joyous. It’s a scene we see play out every week, each volunteer enters their one room home with the intent of supplying food and vitamins and providing any necessary health care, but all leave with a brighter smile and energized spirit.
It’s a characteristic that is common of so many of the people Warm Heart helps through Public Access, and it is personalities like Tip and Theap that make our work so important.
Warm Heart Worldwide is a grassroots non-profit organization located in Phrao, Thailand. Our programs are run by volunteers and funded through public donations. To learn more about our program visit Project Access. If you would like to contribute to our program please