What’s a Toothbrush? (Somchai’s Story)

The tall boy peers wide-eyed at the modern buildings of House of Joy. Age nine, he has never set foot in school. His clothes are mere rags, and you can see sores from scabies where the skin shows through. His travel companion explains that Somchai’s mother died in childbirth and his father was mentally unstable after that, taking Somchai to live with him in the jungle outside the protection of the village. The villagers felt sorry for the boy and built them a traditional bamboo hut, but the father refused, saying he felt uncomfortable in a house. Finally, the villagers decided that Somchai needed an education and convinced his father to bring him to House of Joy. Though Somchai was delighted, he had a lot to learn about living in community: for starters, how to use a toothbrush! Today, Somchai towers above the other boys his age and is amazing with a slingshot. And though he can still be socially inept, everyone loves him for his childlike wonder and enthusiasm for life.

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