Her mother is a prostitute. And nine-year old Sandra is a casuality of her nation’s sex tourism industry. She is immediately recognized in Thailand as a luk-kreung, that is, a “half-child” born of a poor Thai mother and an absent Western father.
It’s possible that Sandra’s Australian father doesn’t even know that she exists, but it is more than likely he does know—and has chosen to abandon both she and her mother to return to his home country.
Nobody knows how many “half-children” have been left behind in Southeast Asia, but there are many. Most of their mothers have few alternatives but to continue working as prostitutes. If there are no extended family members to take care of them, luk-kreung end up living on the streets with their mothers. Many of them, even as children, are abandoned and survive on their own, and little girls eventually become prostitutes themselves.
Jaidee, one of our Heaven’s Family partners in Thailand, told me that unwanted female luk-kreung suffer more than males. “While driving past rice patties years ago,” she told me, “I noticed an old man plowing his field with a water buffalo while a young girl walked about ten feet in front. I asked the driver why she was doing that, and I’ll never forget his answer: ‘Oh, that’s probably her grandfather. He has her walk in front in case there are any unexploded bombs or mines hidden below the surface. He would rather the girl be killed so that he won’t lose his buffalo.’
“Ironically,” Jaidee continued, “the situation is much different when the foreign father marries the Asian mother and they raise their bi-racial children within a traditional family. They are then treated with almost movie-star status in Thailand.” Because they are accepted on the basis of their father’s elite Western status and usually have excellent educational opportunities, these children live privileged lives, and are the top choices for careers in government and the entertainment industry because of their multi-lingual and cross-cultural skills.
Little Sandra was not so fortunate. Her mother, not only a prostitute but also a heroin addict, placed her in an orphanage. Thankfully, that orphanage is run by compassionate believers. Jaidee, her husband Jack, along with their own children, frequently serve at that orphanage, and that is where they met Sandra.
Although Sandra began her life at the very bottom of Thailand’s social order, she is learning that Jesus—and those who love Him—have a better plan for her life. Jaidee’s daughter Grace has taken a special interest in Sandra. “She looks just like me, mommy!” Grace observed one day, referring to her own bi-racial appearance. “She needs someone to love her and she will be OK.”
Although the government will not allow Jaidee and Jack to adopt Sandra yet, they are seeking to bring her into their home as a foster child. Please pray for that happy ending.