It is not uncommon for people with disabilities to sell lottery tickets in Thailand, but it is slightly unusual when  the vendor has no legs, only one arm, only three fingers on  his one good hand, and drives a motorcycle. But then again,  Boonsong Kumdee is not an ordinary individual by any means.

Born in Suphanburi, and aged 49, Boonsong's life has been  beset by tragedy. Born without his legs, he then proceeded  to lose his right arm in a traffic accident a number of  years ago. To make matters worse his only son, At, was  electrocuted in 1984. Boonsong's wife, Doy, aged 47, runs a   noodle shop and this helps the couple make ends meet. They  have a daughter, Kung, aged 22, who helps her mother tend to  their eatery.

Every morning Boonsong leaves his home in Nonthaburi, near  the Rama VII Bridge, to drive his motorbike to Klong Toey   where he sells lottery tickets near the Haroothai Convent  School. Boonsong started selling lottery tickets four years  ago, but he is certainly not getting rich doing it. He can  sell anywhere between Bt300-800 per day in tickets (each   ticket is Bt45), but on the 1st and 16th of each month he  must hand over Bt7,500 to the government lottery office.  Boonsong says is lucky to make Bt1,000 for each two week  period, and on top of that he has to pay for his gas which  is Bt30 a day.

 

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                                      Boonsong Kumdee

Before becoming a lottery vendor Boonsong entertained  people, in a sort of circus-freak show-cabaret troupe. He did tricks like spinning around on a rope, boxing with other  "vertically challenged" people, sitting on a bottle etc.  While it did net him some money it did nothing for his  dignity.

Boonsong has customized his motorcycle so that the stub of  his right arm can hit the metal extension of the break he  has rigged up to the right side of his machine. The  accelerator is on the left grip (he switched it over from  the right side where it was too difficult to access). The   gearshift is on left side as well, and he can access it  easily with his one good arm.

For a person who has endured so much pain, suffering and  indignation Boonsong hopes and aspirations aren't really  that high. Although he would like to visit another country  one day, he says that all he really wants right now is to be  able to buy some more lottery tickets so that he can earn  some more money for his family to help pay their bills.

He leases the land that his family lives on for Bt1,700 a  month, and he has to dish out Bt2,000 a month in order to  meet his motorcycle payments, so the family does not have a  lot of play money.

Khun Boonsong is an enigma in that he has every reason to be unhappy and miserable, but he refuses to be. He is always  smiling, always keeping busy (he repairs his own bike), and  he never seems to feel sorry for himself. His enthusiasm and  persistence are infectious, and anyone who spends any length  of time with Boonsong Kumdee is bound to come away thinking  their own problems are not as bad as they thought they were.

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