When Christal asked for blog volunteers, my hand shot up. I usually have a lot to say and was so excited to be in Thailand, I thought, no problem, the words will roll off my tongue…..I was wrong.
We have now been at the Children’s Home for 3 days. Each day has brought a bucketful of emotions followed by questions…many of which have no answer.
I’m not 100% sure what exactly we expected to find when we arrived at the home, but what a wonderful joyful place we discovered. There are kids of all sizes, all ages, some Thai, many Burmese, all abandoned by parents for one reason or another. Perhaps we expected to find caution and maybe even suspicion. Instead we were greeted with welcome smiles, open arms, jasmine necklaces …and of course buckets of water mixed with baby powder. What kid, young or old, doesn’t like soaking another kid (or adult) on a scorching hot day!
These kids are cared for. There is a palpable feeling of love and well-being in the home, and not just between the caregivers and the kids, but also between the kids themselves. Young ones hang off of older ones, siblings take each other under a protective wing. Everywhere you look you see the signs of a joyful childhood, laughter, smiles games, tickling and teasing, candy, ices and all the rest. So it is so easy to forget that, until the home, many of these kids lived off their wits alone on the street. And many were sold for labour or sex, doing whatever necessary to survive. Some were tortured by their parents when they refused to beg. Others simply left, no longer able to carry the burdens of their home lives.
For me this is where all the questions set in. As a mother myself how do I reconcile my own view of the gift of motherhood with one that permits the sale of a child? And how do I suspend judgment so that I can learn and see and possibly even understand?
It seems to me that the women and men who run this organization do not seek to judge, but rather to love. Corny? Perhaps. But there is no other explanation for what I have been witnessing; the sharing, the teaching, the extraordinary kindness in the face of enormous problems, drug addiction and extreme poverty.
Kru Nam, the founder of the organization and a passionate and dedicated advocate for the rights of children is married to Pi Pot, who works alongside of her in the parenting of these 120 kids. She told us a wonderful story. Last year LiveDifferent built a library. Pot asked each child to pick a bamboo stick and paint it with a different colour. When all the sticks were completed, Pot fashioned them into a beautiful fence to surround the library with beauty and strength. “We are like that fence” he told his kids, “all different shapes, all different sizes, but standing together we hold each other up and give each other strength.” Corny? Perhaps. But how remarkable to see family and community built in the place of devastation and destruction.
I have been moved beyond words by what I see all around me here.