60 Seconds of Love

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All around us, artists are always actively at work. Our lives are touched by their creations of beauty, interpretation, and expression; and without them our world would lack color, passion, and beauty. Art is hard to define, as so much of it is completely dependent on interpretation. What may seem like random lines and splashes to one person, is seen as a work of passion and depth by another; what may seem like jumbled thoughts and actions to one may appear to be a brilliant method of communication to another. Like the old English idiom declares, “Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder”.We have seen beauty, and though those around us may have missed it at the time, much like a flower opening up even when no one is looking, this moment of beauty happened nonetheless. Heather pointed it out to us, and I’m so glad that we caught it.PleadingOn a bridge between Thailand and Myanmar lies a place of complexity: things are not as they seem. A busy place full of dirt, grime and human life, its true character is easy to miss without meaning to. First you notice the extreme number of children running around without any parents. They are dirty, unruly, and they often have small babies strapped to their backs. They grab at your hands, charming you with their cute smiles, all the while desperate to have your attention – and your money. Behind them and off in the background are the adults that oversee their begging efforts. They will stay out of your sight, so that you don’t realize they are there or what these children face if their attempt to extract money from you fails. Walking among them are the tourists, many of them not sure what to do with the circus going on around them. Some of the tourists are groups of friends, clearly going shopping in the market just over the border, some of them on their way to visit the few famous sites in this nondescript city, and some of them just crossing over for the stamp on their passport. However, those tourists are the minority. Most people crossing this border are the men who have come here for a specific purpose: to rob children of their innocence, to abuse them, and to exploit a nation’s desperation. They are literally wolves among sheep, looking for their next prey.We were standing in this place because we were here to help out for the day. Through LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)’s partnerships, we are able to bring Hero Holiday participants to work with an organization that reaches out to these children. In their own subtle, yet determined way, they are working to undermine the efforts of trafficking and exploitation at this border. They have safe houses for children that are desperately in need of shelter, they have a drop-in centre that reaches out to families in need of food, care, and shelter from the predators on the streets who have their eyes on their children, and they have workers who are out on the street, looking for ways to bring help, healing, and safety. We were excited to be able to help out in any way, but we never imagined it would be like this.FingernailsHer name is Shophil. She brought us there that day and showed us how to love in that place.  She sat amongst the street kids and opened up her very basic first aid kit (a small plastic box with a few basic medications). She pulled out a pair of protective gloves, put them on, and surprisingly, pulled out a pair of nail clippers.  Starting with the smallest child, barely 1 year old, she clipped his tiny little fingernails with great precision and love. With a beautiful smile on her face, she then went on to his toe nails with equal meticulousness. As she came close to being done, another street child would be waiting in line, in most cases anxiously, to get their nails done. She went from one tiny dirty fingernail to the next with great care and love, giving 60 seconds of love to each and every child. The hugs and kisses came her way endlessly, and without hesitation she reciprocated every one. These tiny, filthy and yet beautiful human beings craving love, even for just 60 seconds of it, would come soak in what they could. She continuously gave. With a few more hugs and many more smiles thrown to each one, she went on.Soon the children would return to the bridge to beg in their torn up clothing on their dirt laced little bodies; but now it would be with a memory of love. Even if only for a brief moment that day they were loved like every child should be. They trust she’ll come back, as she always does. She comes here all the time with the other staff, offering simple help and dignity to these lives that need to know there is a safe place when they are ready.We were honored to work alongside of her that day because we saw an artist of compassion at work, and it was breathtaking.Heather, who was there with us that day, helped to define what it was we saw: “Each time I reach for my nail clippers, I see them differently now: they can be a way into someone’s heart and they can be the first step to building trust to bring about change.”Playing on BridgeBuddies Along the Border are one of our partners in northern Thailand. They work amongst these children, providing them with a safe place and a trusting adult when they are still on the streets. They work on behalf of the children, advocating to get them out of that place and into a safe home. Hero Holiday currently works with them each year, helping to build their facilities, and working amongst the children and families that are being helped by this valuable effort. You can be a part of this! Please consider joining us on a Hero Holiday, or joining with our efforts to continue to work there and support this worthwhile effort.”In this life, we can’t always do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” ~ Mother Teresa

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: May 10th, 2009