A big, beautiful, inspiring family
I am amazed by the maturity and sensitivity of these children, who come from a background of abuse and/or exploitation. On Saturday night, we had the opportunity to hear the older teens perform at the night market in town. I think it may have been their first time.
They sang six original songs about their lives, with themes like ‘I hope one day you can forgive me and accept me’ and ‘even when days are tough, I will try to be a good person’. I was thoroughly enjoying the melodies, tapping a hand and foot, swaying to the music. As a new song was introduced, the translator informed me, “This one is about fathers. About waiting for their father to come back and care for them”. Seeing their beautiful faces and listening to the heartfelt words was overwhelming. I could not stop the tears.
I was thinking about my three sons whose father died three years ago. They are at home in Canada with their grandparents while I am in Thailand for these two weeks. I know they will be missing me. I was thinking that they must also still long for their father to return, as these children do. So it was personal. But it was also very global. So many children do not have the consistent love of their parents that they desire and deserve. Yet these young people speak of hope and have repeatedly expressed gratitude for their current home situation in a children’s shelter.
During our final afternoon of their arts camp on Sunday, they amazed me again. They had a slide show presentation that allowed them to share there experience at the market with the younger children. They brought the guitar case that had been used to collect donations at the concert, choosing to count their gifts together. To their delight, they earned the equivalent of approximately $90 CAD. Here is what surprised me most…they asked the whole group how they would like to spend the money. The responses were “on food”, “more musical instruments”, and “on gas, so we can visit the kids at boarding school.” I was impressed, and truly, almost dumbfounded that their most frivolous request was to spend new found money on musical instruments for the enjoyment of the whole group. I guess, in some way, it also shows their wisdom that music is a way that they can earn money and contribute to society in a meaningful way.
The idea that touched me most was the suggestion to use their earnings for gas. The shelter is a permanent residence to about 40 kids, while dozens of others are living away at boarding schools, coming home to the shelter on holidays. I love that those who are “home” all the time long to see their “siblings” who are away. They are young and old, boys and girls, Thai and Burmese, from a variety of hill tribes. Some have parents who sold them for a pittance, while others have lost their parents to drugs or disease. But no matter what their background, they are family. A big, beautiful, inspiring family.
Kathy – LiveDifferent Hero Holiday Volunteer, Thailand, 2014