Pi Mai & Loun Steve - Chiang Mai, Thailand - 2012
According to UNICEF, in the far northern regions of Thailand, in the Mekong River, human trafficking is a major common issue. Women and children are lured by promises of education, a new skill or a “good job” and are then being kidnapped outright, taken from their home villages and then bought and sold like commodities.
In that story, a little Thai family was lucky to find a man that did not lure them. Quite on the contrary, he adopted them and now takes care of them as his own, despite having health issues himself. Her name is Pi Mai. Pi Mai means New Year. It’s the day she was born, on the Mekong River. It’s where her parents met from across borders between Laos and Thailand. Where human trafficking is common. Pi Mai escaped with her parents to a little town called Chiang Mai, hoping to have a better life. There, she met Steve, a retired American who came to Chiang Mai 17 years ago and have never left since. Steve suffers from Tourette syndrome and Huntington disease, both are hereditary neurological disorders, and thus he decided not to have children of his own. When Steve met Pi Mai, she was only 2 years old He had found his long lost joy. Seeing her living in difficult conditions urged him to adopt her, and consequently her parents and just recently her brother Gan Pai, which means yellow bamboo. They all live now in Steve’s own guesthouse. They call him Loun Steve. Loun means uncle. Loun Steve ensures the children’s education; Pi Mai is now 8 years old and loves going to school everyday. When she grows up she wants to be a pilot.