Hero Holiday Thailand 2007 – Spring Break
Hero Holiday has taken on a new frontier: Thailand! The students who came with us had already experienced a Hero Holiday or humanitarian trip that was HH approved. Our group that went was small but we were mighty!
Our team of 15 participants had an incredible experience as we immersed ourself in Thai culture, to begin to understand the issues and challenges there, and to especially make a difference in the lives of the children at risk. We taught English, rode elephants, took overnight trains across the country, visited orphanages and children’s homes, and were ourselves changed through it all!
For many of our participants, one of our most meaningful experiences was being able to spend time with a group of children who were ‘displaced’ kids: they had no country, no ‘identity’, and no family to come and rescue them. Many of them were sexually exploited and had been trafficked from other areas, and somehow, thankfully, they were the success stories who had found a home and someone to love them. We helped to make their dreams come true by taking them swimming (not a small feat when you actually decide to do it!), bringing them fried chicken (honestly this was what they wanted more than anything else!) and bringing them limitless amounts of ice cream (against our better judgment!). The simplicity of their joy and the beauty of their laughter made an imprint on all of our hearts as we realized what pain and danger they had come through. Those children made us want to make a difference because they had made a difference in our lives. As we pulled aways from their home that evening, we were lost for words, as they seemed so insufficient to capture how we had been impacted by being a part of their world. As a group, we decided we would make a difference, in some small way, in the lives of these children and the adults who had dedicated themselves to caring for them. So, we decided to do an ‘Extreme Children’s Home Makeover’ Hero Holiday style! We marched into Tesco, the local super-store, armed with money and a mission, and we bought 7 cartloads full of supplies, including a washing machine, a TV and DVD player (to play English teaching videos to the children), towels, cleaning supplies, food and even shoes! Our team was giddy with anticipation as we took over the checkout line and there began to gather a crowd of onlookers around our group, wondering what these crazy foreigners were doing! As we loaded the supplies into the trucks of the head of the children’s home, we were overwhelmed as she began to weep and tell us how much it meant to her and the children that we would take the time and the resources to do this for them. However, in truthfulness, they were the ones who made us cry and be amazed as we watched their strength, their quiet dignity, and their capacity for hope as they rescued children and made a difference for the future.
In Thailand, we spent time beginning to understand some of the causes of child exploitation, and we began to see how our lives and choices can truly make a difference for children such as these. A new mile marker was set for Hero Holiday, as we began to see how we can make a difference to this often forgotten part of our global community and a desire was lit inside of us to begin to champion their cause.