What Did He Have to Lose?

Little FacesHe was about 13 when they first met him, working on the streets in Mae Sai, Thailand. Not unlike the other kids hanging around the border crossing, he was a drug smuggler – by necessity, not by choice.His family had 12 kids, and their mother was their only support. Although their dad was around, he seemed to be continually strung out on opium for as long as he can remember and when he came down, it was not pretty. His mom worked day and night to try to support the family and it was a losing battle. This was all that Aung knew, but life on the streets did have it’s upsides such as freedom to say and do what you wanted without perceived responsibility. Maybe his life looked bleak from our point of view, but from where he sat, it was all that he knew and sometimes there is a weird and twisted comfort in knowing that you are hurting and dysfunctional. It can be scary to leave the familiar.WrestlingSitting down on the steet with him one day, JK and Kru Nam offered Aung a way out. Because he couldn’t read or write, they told him if he got out of drugs they would help him get an education. They didn’t even know if he would be willing to take it, but thankfully, he reached out and took their offer. That was step one.That one step changed everything. Aung became immersed in a world he didn’t even know existed: a world of possibilities and hope. As he began to realize what education can do, he became hungry to learn and to do something significant with his life. He needed something to live for that was meaningful. While he settled into the rhythm of life at the drop-in centre and the children’s home, he wanted to show how thankful he was for this chance to start over. He became the first to volunteer to help and the one that everyone could depend on. He became a new person – or maybe it was just that he started to transform into who he was meant to be all along.But, like most things in life, change has a price tag. As Aung approached 17, he needed to find a job. JK began to walk the city streets with him, searching for employment and a new place to live. Finally, after many days, they found someone who was willing to take a risk on a Burmese kid who was a former drug runner. It became his chance to prove himself where it really counted.Digging for WaterToday, Aung goes to school each morning, continuing his education, and works afternoons and evenings. He has his own apartment and he is able to send home money to his mother to help her with the burden of the family back in Burma, working to help his other siblings get out of the traps of poverty and exploitation. Aung is into hip hop and has a following of admirers at the boys’ home who he helps to mentor. They have watched his success and want to grow up to be like him: someone who is making a difference. Aung’s goal today is to own his own restaurant and provide opportunities for other kids from the foundation to come and work for him and have the same kind of opportunities that he has had.Sometimes change is hard to embrace. Even pain can become familiar when it is all you know and to step out of that to the unknown can seem too scary and intimidating. But what, really, did Aung have to lose by taking a chance in trusting someone to help him that had already proven to hundreds of other people that change is possible? Not much to lose really, but he had everything to gain.Aung’s success is due to his own hard work and the persistence of JK in helping him. JK and the staff at VCDF ( are able to do what they do through the support of many friends around the world. Some of those friends have joined us on Hero Holiday in Thailand. When I asked JK how they manage to do what they do in Thailand, he simply said, “There is a lot of power in a passionate life.” Enough said.To find out more about how to make a difference in Thailand, check out‘s Note: JK couldn’t tell me his name, so I choose to call him Aung. He is Burmese, and ‘Aung’ in Burmese means to succeed. If I was Burmese, that is what I would want my name to mean too.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: April 4th, 2010

RFC Group – A Completed School!

Friday Blog April 2nd 2010 

So today was our last day of working on the school and everyone was feeling much better than yesterday! We spent most of the day doing finishing touches such as: finishing painting trim, painting the rest of the playground, painting a sign for the school, installing doors, and putting the bars over the windows (but painting them first). So overall . . . LOTS of painting! We are very happy with the job that we completed and we all worked hard to achieve this goal. We spent the last half hour on the site just playing with the kids. It will be a sad day when we are not able to see those kids again.

Tomorrow we will be going shopping to buy some more school supplies to fill all the back pack. Then after that, there will be a dedication of the school where there will also be an important Mexico vs. Canada soccer game (stay tuned for the end results)!!


To see more pictures, click here.


Student Participant – RFC

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: April 3rd, 2010

The Construction Begins For Our Saskatchewan Friends!

Well it all started with us driving from San Diego down to Vicente Guerrero, Mexico. We got see a lot of different things on the way down. I was awake for the first half and slept the second half because I was really tired.  Most people here speak Spanish and it is really fun to learn and to try to figure out what they are saying.Today we managed to get the roof and all the walls built and we started to paint as well. So that is where we will start from tomorrow and we will see how far we get.  Being here is a good experience and I am glad that I have come for this time. It has been something that I have wanted to do for a while. I was scared to leave my family and my boy friend. Well that is all for now. Stay tuned because tommorow will be a new blog and by some one else!Chelzie Kot – 2010 Hero Holiday Participant

Author: LiveDifferent


RFC Youth School Build – Day #3

March 31, 2010Today was our third day on the work site of our  school build. It was definitely our most productive day so far as we put up all the walls and roof. We also painted and placed the play ground structure, which was a hit with all the kids. The kids loved having us push them on the swings and there were many times when the kids would give me distinct directions in Spanish. I pretended as if I understood every word they were saying but I had no idea! Despite that fact, it was amazing to see the kids just having the time of their lives as they smiled from ear to ear. The trip started as just building a school for these kids but it’s safe to say that playing with the kids and the excitement they bring to our trip is constantly a highlight to of each my days here in Mexico.~ BrockToday was pretty cool. We actually put together a whole school! How crazy is that? It felt so good to do something so substantial, or visible for lack of a better word. I know all the little menial stuff, like painting and nailing, is important too, but actually putting together all the pieces really lets you see all the hard work that was put into the process. It is a good feeling knowing that we are helping to educate future generations in this community.~ AlisonToday was a big day! It started off with chocolate chip pancakes and bacon (Mmmm!) I got the fun job of painting for the entire day. Painting all the beautiful bright colors on the play ground has been my highlight so far. It was super windy again today so paint was flying everywhere. Because of this, we were covered in paint at the end of the day. It was oil based so we had to wipe it off with paint thinner. Sorry Mom, I’m gonna need some more shorts when we get back home. Then we painted the inside of the school, slowly people left to nail on the roof, and it was only me and Anders painting. It felt like it would never end. When we finally thought we had finished, we were told it needed a second coat! Overall it was a great day ending with yummy flauttas (Mexican meal).~ Janelle

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: April 1st, 2010