How We Found Taw Saeng

Longtime fan Heather reached out to me with the following letter:

Hey, Pam,

Do you already have a school/library/organization picked out for the Dewey Donation System this year? Taw Saeng (the organization I’m working with) is suffering from a lack of new books. We have books that have been donated over the years, but most are from the 50′s, presumably sent by school libraries trying to clear out their own old stuff. Not that I have anything against old books, obviously, but the kids have already read or heard them all about 20 times and are getting a bit sick of them. If you don’t already have something picked out, would you consider having us be your project this year?


I asked Heather to share her amazing story with Dewey.

How I met Taw Saeng

About a year ago, November 2010, I was in a time of transition. I was tired of the rat race of the film business, but had no marketable skills after spending almost a decade making commercials and movies for a living. In the midst of my mid-career crisis, I traveled to Chiang Mai, Thailand on a trip with my church to an organization called Taw Saeng. I knew we were coming to work with kids who live in the slums of the red light district. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to be doing, but I love kids, so I figured it would be fun if nothing else. In the end, it was life changing.

I spent two weeks teaching English, learning Thai, and playing with kids who have almost nothing, yet still come to the center every day with huge smiles on their faces. We got to visit one of the slums where they live and meet with their parents. These kids are the poorest of the poor, they live in homes with only a spigot for running water, dirt floors and corrugated tin roofs. On top of that, 98% of the kids in the Taw Saeng program have been propositioned for sex or sexually abused by foreigners or Thai nationals. Taw Saeng exists to be a safe place for the parents to send their kids after school while they work, so they don’t have to worry about what will happen to the kids if left on their own.

When I got back to the States, I decided I needed to come work with this organization to try to make a difference in the lives of these vulnerable children. I did some quick fundraising to finance a year abroad, put all my belongings in storage, and was back in Thailand by the end of March 2011.

I’ve now been here ten months, am in the process of adopting one of the kids of Taw Saeng who became an orphan while I was here, am on the Leadership Team of Taw Saeng and plan to stay here at least five years to raise my new kid and help the program expand and help more kids.

How I met

Once upon a time, I was an avid Gilmore Girls fan. So much so that I would often spend hours discussing episodes with my roommate. Yes, I was that big of a nerd; no, I did not have a very active social life. One day after a particularly divisive conversation about GG, my roommate forwarded me a recap from a website I had never heard of: Television Without Pity. She was convinced I had written this recap under a pseudonym because it was word for word my side of our conversation from the night before.

After reading the recap, two things happened: 1) I was flattered she thought I could have written it, and 2) I wanted to become instant friends with whoever HAD written it because clearly we had similar world views.

I clicked on the little link to the info about the writer and lo and behold, Pamie had a website. Of course, I became instantly addicted to reading this because reading about someone’s real life is way more fun than reading about someone’s opinions on a TV show. Plus, it makes you feel like you are friends without having to do all the extra work of actually, you know, spending face to face time with them. Plus, it was nice to read about someone else who had similar struggles trying to “make it” in Los Angeles.

Eventually, Pamie wrote a book and did a reading/signing at a Barnes and Noble near my house. My roommate and I went to support her and prove once and for all that I had not been writing recaps all this time under a false name.

Eventually, Pam got a great job as the funniest writer on “Samantha Who?” and I became a script supervisor (we do continuity and make sure people say their lines right, among other things) and got to travel to exotic destinations like Jordan and India.

I like to support people I wish I were friends with, so I kept reading her site, watching her shows and buying her books. I even walked the picket line with her fellow writers during the writers’ strike of 2007. (Still on the side of the writers, btw.)

Working Together

Isn’t it amazing how many different ways there are to live a life? If you’re as inspired by Heather’s story as we are, please take a second to help her program. (We will eventually have further info on how to help Heather’s adoption efforts.)