T here is a lot of talk, and concern, in recent days about refugees. Social media is abuzz with information — and in some cases, fear-mongering — about the issue, especially as Syrian refugees pour into Europe.
Sometimes, as arguments grow heated, it’s valuable to step back and consider the difference acceptance can make, to put a human face on an admittedly overwhelming situation.
Consider Ta Hay Tha, who is now 16 years old and living in Kimberley.
Ta Hay Tha was born in a refugee camp on the border between Thailand and Burma (Myanmar) border. He was born disabled, with no arms or legs. It is frightening to imagine how hard this young man’s life would have been living with thousands of other desperate political refugees in a camp.
But Ta Hay Tha was lucky. He came to Canada with his five siblings and their Mother in 2008, sponsored by EK Friends of Burma, as are all refugees in Kimberley and Cranbrook for the last 15 years. His eldest sister, August Paw had already arrived in 2007 with her husband and their first child.
Today, Ta Hay Tha is a student at Selkirk Secondary School. He has a full, active life, partially in thanks to the compassion and kindness of strangers. It began of course, with Friends of Burma, and people like Shauna Jimenez, who have assisted the family with their transition and continue to be part of their lives all these years later. Ta Hay Tha has been given a special bucket ski so he can ski at the Kimberley Alpine Resort. Another volunteer is experimenting with building him ski legs.
And now, Ta Hay Tha will be mobile in the summer as well.
He recently received a battery-operated cycle, a one of a kind vehicle that he can steer with adaptable arms, and control and stop with his legs.
It’s all due to “wonderful, wonderful volunteers” Jimenez says.
The cycle has been paid for by War Amps Canada and was adapted for Ta Hay Tha by the Tetris Society, which specializes in making things work for the disabled.