The Curious Case of the Black Eyed Peas and the Easter Eggs
Finally, they had arrived…all 107 of them. We had waited all day to get to this point, and in typical style, they were 2 hours later than we had agreed upon! But, we reasoned with ourselves, the point was that they were here now and all that hard work was definitely going to be worth it! With our Hero Holiday Thailand team, we had worked together to build much-needed structures for their security, we had taken wild outings that consisted of elephants, long bus rides and sticky sweet candy, and most of all, we had been changed by the power of these kids to capture our hearts and fuel our passion for justice. Today, on our last day together, we were going to celebrate what we had done and enjoy life for what it was now.Life can be difficult for many people, on many levels, but it is especially heartbreaking when it is difficult for a child. There is something so inherently wrong with a child living in danger, insecurity, and exploitation. Innocence and purity seem to be mocked in a world where wrong is often passed off as right and where the place of security can often become the root of pain. Experiences like that can make it seem impossible to live in thankfulness, generosity and joy. But, in the most impossible of ways and in the most unlikely of places, children seem to somehow see the joy in the simplest of acts. These children were no different. In fact, they seemed to have an especially large gift of love and a huge zest for life.It was the last day of our time with them, and the day before Good Friday. These children had impacted our lives in such an incredible and unique way that it was very difficult for us to quantify what it meant to each of us. They had taught us so much about courage, resilience, and hope – and they had taught us that you can trust again after incredible pain and tragedy. In fact, these kids and their leaders had become some of our personal heroes and the thought of saying good-bye was too much to think about! Our Hero Holiday team had spent the past hour hiding 1200 Easter eggs and about 150 marshmallow candies on a one acre piece of land that we were staying on. After spending 10 amazing days together, we wanted to do something with these kids that would leave us all with memories of laughter, hope, and healing. And besides – every kid deserves the joy of an Easter Egg Hunt at least once in their lives (even if they were unable to figure out what a rabbit had to do with colored eggs!).When they came running down the steps to meet us on the cleared area, we were anxious as we saw the sun quickly fading and worried that we wouldn’t have enough time to finish our plans. As they sat in front of us, they were completely unaware of what we were about to tell them. For them, it was enough to be able to see us again and be together. The thought of what I was going to get to tell them even got me excited! I began to tell them about the tradition for North American children about hunting for hidden Easter eggs. I tried to convey to them that the rabbit was not exactly a “real” rabbit, but that it was a story we all loved to share. I explained to them that this weekend, all over the world, millions of children would be doing this, and because we loved them so much and they were so amazing, we wanted them to have the chance to do it first: to be the first kids on earth this year to hunt for Easter eggs!I explained to them where to look and showed them what the candy looked like. As we handed out the little bags to collect the candies in, some of them started to quiver with excitement and anticipation, and a couple of the little girls were even holding and squeezing each other’s hands as they tried to contain their excitement! We counted together out loud to three, and then yelled “Go!”.It was mayhem! They squealed and laughed and shouted as they jumped over bushes, rolled on the grass, and dove under plants to find the candies they had been promised were there. It was amazing to see! Each of them shared with each other what they found, and pointed out areas to the younger ones where they could find more candies. Being there in the middle of the laughter and mayhem made many of us emotional, as we realized what an experience like this meant to these kids and how privileged we were to be able to do this for them.As we were drinking in the scene of chaos and ecstatic joy, we were brought back to a little dose of bizarre reality. In an effort to try to give us some mood music and background cheering, one of the hotel staff members thought he would do something thoughtful for us and pulled out the giant, rusty sound system, blaring the music at the maximum volume. A nice gesture…until I realized it was the Black Eyed Peas…singing ‘My Humps’!Each year, an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 men, women, and children are trafficked across international borders. Of those numbers, 70 percent are female, and 50 percent are children. The majority of these victims are forced into the commercial sex trade. Through our educational initiatives in our Think Day programs in North American Schools and our Hero Holiday programs, LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) is working to help educate our generation about what can be done, and provide opportunities to be a part of the solution. In Thailand, our Hero Holiday programs focus on helping established organizations create safe children’s havens and space for those who have been rescued from some of these dark places. This is made possible because people like you care enough to add their voice to those who have no voice, and because they care enough to recognize they can join us in being a part of something that is empowering tomorrow’s generation of leaders to be the change today. To find our more about our programs there and to read blogs from some of participants who have joined us, please check out www.livedifferent.com.