I’ve encountered the smell before. It’s the one that assaults, just briefly, as you step over a manhole or sewer grate. I’ve encountered it on the farm too, when feed, water, shit, straw, heat and time, come together to produce a mephitis emitting blue-black slurry.
Here, the fetor gets inside and under your skin. If you live here, Pi-kun tells me, you get used to it.
But what gets in deeper, are the people of the slum. We spent part of an afternoon talking with Boonyoung. She had just come back from shopping–checking disposal sites for things saleable or eatable.
She’s something of a make-shift grandmother to 12-year old Bass–whose mother she had adopted years before. The mother is rarely around these days and the father long gone. Bass thinks Boonyoung is his real grandmother…and of course, she is. Boonyoung also cares for her ailing 80 year old husband.
Pi-kun and her field workers keep in constant contact with this family. Bass is a strong candidate for a live-in Project LIFE Child Sponsorship Program that–with the successful purchase of a building–should be up and running in the new year.
The Child Sponsorship residence is a short walk from the fetid Ram-2 slum–but a great distance.
Back at the "office" I asked Pi-kun about her name. She said her father named her just before leaving her mother. She said she was named after a flower with brown pedals that grows along roadsides and in Bangkok’s waste places. "At night," she said, "It gives off a wonderful smell!"
(Visiting Boonyoung: Muk, Pi-kun and Tika)