Barw's Story: The ProviderBy Sarah Krantz
Anusit Wangmuang (Barw) was born in Krabi Province, in the South of Thailand. His mother was Buddhist and his father was Islamic. Barw was one of five children in a very poor family, his father had many wives and Barw says that he was never a supportive husband or role model for his family and made his living as a mercenary soldier. At the age of five his mother sent Barw and one of his sisters to go live with his father.
One day Barw’s father gave him and his sister 5 Baht each and said it was time they go back to live with their mother. Barw and his family learned from the local papers that his father had had a price on his head and had been murdered after bringing his children to the bus station. Barw and his family were alerted by the papers of his death. From that point on his family moved around from Province to Province looking for work.
At age 7 Barw was old enough to work on a fishing boat. He worked between the Provinces of Takupa and Krabi fishing while going to school for the next ten years. School was between 8 am and 3 pm, and he worked on the boat from 3pm till 8 am. He was often in trouble for coming late to school and would be punished. When asked when he slept, “in between casting the nets,” was his reply.
While he was fishing Barw learned that his younger brother, who also worked on a boat, was very ill. He did not know the difference between drinking fresh water and seawater. At that moment Barw said he broke down in tears and vowed that he somehow would provide an education for his brother.
When he was 15 years old Barw was given the opportunity to go to Phuket to continue to be a shrimp farmer. It was here that he was first introduced to diving.
At this point in his life Barw was accustomed to people putting him down…”you can not do it.” was a phrase that was constantly reiterated to him. When he expressed an interest in diving he was told not to bother, he would never be able to reach the “open water” standing.
Barw found a way to get his own education. Through observation and volunteering to do any job that came his way he became knowledgeable about all diving equipment maintaince and all forms of diving. He knew then he could not go back to shrimp farming. He needed to do something better to provide for his family.
It took Barw 6 years to earn his open water card. It was not until he proved himself at Hippo divers on Phi Phi island that his boss finally said to him, “You are better than most of my students…, we need to get you your open water card.”
Barw remained loyal to Hippo divers until the Tsunami hit. When he heard about he ETC program he wanted to give the opportunity to his younger brother, however his younger brother was given a opportunity to go and work in Holland which was beyond any of his family’s wildest expectations so Barw was able to come to ETC. He still says that his brother would have been a better candidate than him, because his brother’s brain “works faster.
“Some people’s lot is life is to be successful, and some people’s lot in life is to be the provider,” he says. Barw feels that his lot is to be his family’s provider, and he is content with that. The ten years that Barw spent fishing, and the four years working on Phi phi he sent all of his money back to his family. He had no living expenses because he was either on a boat or his employer gave him housing, so every baht went back to his family. He even says how he had no interest in dating because of the money it would cost him.
“Do not paint me as angel,” he says” There was a time when he smoked Marijuana to try to forget all of his sorrows. He felt so sad, and so dejected he could never see an end to his day-to-day routine trying to earn enough money for his family to eat. On his own accord he stopped smoking pot because his depression was taking money away from his family. “For my selfishness I was taking money and food away from my family,” he says.
Barw says he will never regret being born poor. He is proud of all the sacrifices he made and all he has been able to provide for his family. Barw’s dream is to have a house for his mother and have all of his family able to eat together. He has never deviated from this goal and he is sure it will happen.
Barw is now 27 years old and has completed the 9-month ETC program and is ready to begin his Dive Instructor course on Ko Tao next month. Once he has he instructorship he hopes to receive the loan he needs to finally provide his mother with a real home. It has been such a long wait, and he has stuck to his dream constantly of having his entire family under one roof, “My family keeps joking with me, saying there won’t be room for me!” He says laughing, and his joy positively radiates from him.
Anusit Wangmuang (Barw)