SMU Grad Gives Up Promising Career to Help At-risk Children in Thailand

By NTD

Like many college grads, Singaporean Daryl Tay once dreamed of climbing the corporate ladder, getting married and settling down, and possibly even an early retirement.

But that changed when Tay—then an undergrad—came across a 15-year-old while volunteering with Radion International, a Christian humanitarian relief and development organization, at an impoverished village in northern Thailand.

The teen, he saw, had been sniffing glue to get high.

Tay inquired as to what caused the young person to do something as harmful as sniffing glue. The teen’s answer, Tay explained to Chanel News Asia, “shocked us to the core.”

Tay recounted:

He told us, “If you had just 20 baht ($0.82), would you use it to buy a bowl of noodles—it should keep you full for a few hours—or would you spend it on a bag of glue that would keep you full for days?”

After this soul-stirring encounter, Tay’s corporate dream took a back seat.

Instead, he chose a path less traveled by joining Radion International as a full-time staff-member, following his graduation from Singapore Management University.

Watch Tay’s amazing life journey unfold:

Working with Radion, Tay, an Economics graduate, relocated to the poverty-stricken village to serve at-risk children, who are trapped in a cycle of drug abuse and domestic violence.

Tay’s parents initially disapproved of his decision to join Radion. They thought it was “just a phase,” and that he would return to Singapore soon enough. However, Tay’s motivation to serve the children had surpassed anything else.

And now, after four years, Tay has not abandoned this passion to help the children of the village—despite earning a meager allowance and having little more than a bunk pod to live in.

Currently, Tay is responsible for grants, collaborations, and a recovery program for at-risk youths.

Every day, Tay wakes up 5 a.m. to help the children get ready for school. And, as evening rolls in, he gets ready to fetch the children from school, and even cooks dinner and helps the kids with their homework.

Tay’s passion is to let the children know that there is someone who loves them. The bond he has formed with them has garnered him the name “Phi Daryl,” translating as “big brother.”

“Phi Daryl” feels that his sacrifices have all been worth it, especially after seeing the children’s positive transformations. They began to believe in themselves and had regained hope that was once lost.

Children like 9-year-old Liza who, Tay explained, will “never know the love of a father” but is now at the top of her class, are what motivates Tay to continue his work.“I saw a very satisfied smile on her face,” Tay said. “When a child believes in herself, suddenly nothing is impossible for her.

“Their strength amidst their difficulties is something I really respect,” he said.

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