Tragedy seemed to have hit Yaphin Saeko’s family in torrents. But with faith and courage, the businesswoman-turned- caregiver to her handicapped son is rising from the ashes of misfortune.
By and large, 56-year-old Yaphin Saeko’s life had been easy and uneventful. Her husband owned a booming garment retail business, and with a daughter and a son to add to their happiness, they were a picture-perfect, middleclass family living in the comfort of suburban Chiangmai.
However, fate dealt a heavy blow when a series of events led to their financial collapse. In 1997, the Asian financial crisis hit Thailand, causing Yaphin’s thriving business to nosedive along with the family’s livelihood, hopes and dreams. Unable to cope with the failure, Yaphin’s husband committed suicide.
“We were devastated,” recalls Yaphin. Business progressively worsened. In futility, Yaphin struggled alone to save it, but the writing was on the wall. In 2005, the company wound up.
As if a failed business and her husband’s death were not bad enough, Yaphin experienced a triple whammy when her son, Nat, was beaten by gangsters and became a quadriplegic.
One night, while riding home on his motorcycle, 21-year-old Nat met a group of seven men with evil intentions surrounding a girl. Thinking he could prevent a potential gang-rape, he alighted from his bike. Immediately he was attacked. They tied his hands and started to beat him violently. His arms were broken and his back wounded. Relentless pounding on the head caused intracerebral damage.
“For many months, Nat was in a coma without any indication that he will ever wake up,” she says.
When he was transferred to another hospital, Nat gained a visitor – a pharmacist who would drop by everyday to pray for him. At the hospital, Yaphin picked up some Christian literature and began to read. Desperate, she prayed to God for her comatose son to pass motion. Her prayer was answered.
In the seventh month of his coma, Nat began to blink. Then, he started to laugh and babble. Nobody understood what he was trying to communicate but Yaphin knew God had heard her prayer. Though he was paralysed neck down, Nat was showing signs of recovery and hope.
By the end of 2007, he was able to stand with the help of a metal frame walker. However, he suffered a fall while using the equipment and remains immobile until today.
Apart from being the sole caregiver, Yaphin also had to provide for her family – a difficult task indeed for an ageing, single mother. But Yaphin knew God would help her. She told the pharmacist she would like to know Jesus. In March 2008, Yaphin and her son stepped into a church for the first time.
More complications ensued as Nat developed an allergy to his medication. Spots started to appear on his skin, causing more anxiety and concern. “Some Christians came to pray for him,” says Yaphin , “and immediately the spots disappeared!”
Now 25, Nat is dependent on his mother to do everything for him, from moving around to personal hygiene. Although the burden is heavy for Yaphin, she braves her circumstances with a fortitude that reflects the depth of a mother’s love. Her 27-year old daughter, who works elsewhere, chips in by sending home the money they need.
“Since coming to know God, I’ve lacked nothing,” says Yaphin with a smile. “I was a very hot-tempered person before believing in Christ. I used to argue with my siblings but now I don’t. I’ve learnt so much about life from reading the Bible. Now, I seek biblical wisdom to deal with life’s problems.”
“With God’s help, I’m not afraid to face the future,” she says confidently.
Triumph Over Troubles - Asian Beacon: Feb-Mar 12 (Vol 44, No 1, p32)