PHUKET: A Phuket vendor who saw his only source of livelihood – a mini-crepe cart – go up in smoke was able to avoid going to loan sharks to replace it because of help from an unlikely source, a New Zealander who has been to the province only twice.
Prayoon Inpuang, 44, was preparing to sell mini-crepes in Phuket Town on February 13 when he smelt fuel and heard it leaking. Before he was able to control the leak, his stall burst into flames and was quickly incinerated (story here).
“My first thought when I saw it burned up was: I have no future anymore,” Mr Prayoon said.
That night, he thought of how else he could make money. He considered applying for a job somewhere, but soon abandoned the idea.
“No one would hire me, because I have only a primary education,” he said.
Mr Prayoon was in despair. There was no way for him to support his wife and two children, but his daughters, 14 and 16 years old, inspired him not to give up.
“I got strength from my daughters. That night, they gave me a hug and said, ‘Don’t give up Daddy,'” Mr Prayoon said.
Meanwhile, Delyse Gibson at home in Hamilton, New Zealand, had read Mr Prayoon’s story online and contacted the Phuket Gazette.
She offered to buy a new crepe stall for Mr Prayoon.
“I know the struggle of finding work and the difficulties of financial pressure,” the self-employed single mother said. “It made me feel extremely sad to hear that he had lost his livelihood and has a family to support,” she said.
“I have been fortunate that, over the years, lots of good things have happened for me and now, later in life, I am able to reciprocate.”
When the Gazette called Mr Prayoon to tell him about Ms Gibson’s offer, he wept.
“I can’t explain how touched I feel,” he said. “Even though we are from different countries, she is willing to help me. I want to thank her for paying attention to this poor and unimportant person.”
Ms Gibson explained that her motivation for helping Mr Prayoon also came from her special feelings for Phuket, having fallen in love with the island on her first visit last year. Within three days of being on island, she had decided to retire here. Within a month, she had bought an apartment in Kamala.
“The people are so lovely, the food amazing and the beaches great. Phuket, for me, is like coming home. It makes me really happy to be there,” she said.
The Gazette visited Mr Prayoon last Wednesday. He had already bought a new motorbike with a sidecar and was preparing to resume work that afternoon.
The second-hand setup cost 20,000 baht, he said.
“I was going to borrow the money from a loan shark, despite the high interest rate. I thought I had no choice,” he said.
“I have no words to express my appreciation, my heart is just full,” he said, eyes shining.
“I can’t speak English, but Ms Gibson is welcome to visit my shop anytime. I’ll make her the greatest kanum tokyo ever.”
Ms Gibson said that she plans to come to Phuket this month to claim her mini-crepe.
— Saran Mitrarat
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