FAIRBANKS — The little boy from Indonesia, who had never seen snow, discovered that the person who had warned him he would instantly become a block of ice in Alaska had it all wrong.
Tison, 10, was smiling when he walked into the Fairbanks International Airport terminal late Wednesday, glad that he wasn’t frozen stiff. Twenty-five Fairbanksans gave the boy a warm reception.
Tison, whose name is pronounced “Tee-Sun,” hails from a place where 75 above is considered cold and he runs around barefoot.
It took Tison and his escort three days to get to Jakarta and 30 more hours on airplanes before they landed in Fairbanks.
In one sense, this journey began more than two years ago when Tison was burned on 40 percent of his body in a horrible accident at his home.
His family is desperately poor. They live on a remote island in Indonesia where kerosene burned in a can with a simple wick is all they have for lighting. One night when his father lit a wick, something went wrong and burning kerosene splashed on the child. He was burned on his face, neck, upper body, both feet and both legs.
For the first year, Tison received no medical help because there was nothing available in his village. The kids called him “monkey boy” because of the unusual way he runs, a result of the burns to his legs.
For the past year, he has stayed at a clinic run by the International Friends of Compassion, an international aid organization that Carl Cady of Fairbanks helped found nine years ago. His open wounds were treated daily at the clinic, where the medical team did all they could.
A kind boy with a big smile, he had lots of friends at his home, and he tried to be as normal as possible.
Something in this child, who hasn’t let hardship conquer him, deeply touched the hearts of the Fairbanksans who met him while on mission trips to Indonesia for IFC.
With the approval of Tison’s parents, these Alaskans decided they should try to help him get treatment here.
“It has taken a mountain of work to get him to Fairbanks,” Cady wrote on his blog.
“I am amazed at how many good people we have in our community. There are many who have contributed to making this day and the next year a life-changing experience, a reality,” he said.
“Tison may not know at this time, what an offer has been given to him, but he will understand in time that this is a landmark year for him. I can’t thank those involved enough for the acts of kindness to him.”
I plan to write more about Tison to let you know how he is doing. He is expected to be here for a year and will attend Fairhill Christian School.
If you would like to assist the Fairbanksans working to get this boy back on his feet, consider making a donation to the Children’s Medical Fund of International Friends of Compassion.
You can send a check to the International Friends of Compassion at P.O. Box 81823, Fairbanks, AK 99708. Visa and Mastercard donations can be made at the IFC Web site, which is at www.ifcus.org.
For more information, call Cady at 456-7567.
Dermot Cole can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or