Etch-A-Sketches of Love

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I know Christmas is technically December 25th, but when you have never experienced Christmas, you don’t even care what day it is. You only care that someone took the time to think of you. That’s why when Christmas came to northern Thailand at the end of this past February; no one was too uptight, because they were just excited to have a gift.vicky.jpgVicky is in Grade 12. She is well spoken, focused, and she is full of big plans for what she wants to accomplish with her life. Her laugh is very infectious and her smile is very unassuming. She had joined us before in Dominican Republic, so when I found out she would be in Thailand with me last summer; I was really looking forward to sharing the experience with her.Everyone that joins us in Thailand is always amazed at how much hope they experience in the midst of such heartbreaking stories: hope flourishes in the most unlikely of places all over the earth, and this is one of those places. Last summer while we were working on some projects in an amazing children’s home in northern Thailand, Vicky and the other participants saw what life can look like when you are willing to try to believe again. Together with the staff at the home, we built a recycling centre, did some basic renovations on their outdoor kitchen and helped to work to make life a little easier. We were all changed in the process, but it was Vicky who really took the next step towards making the connection. When she returned to her hometown in Northern Ontario, she couldn’t stop thinking about those kids, their lives and the world in which they lived. She knew that many of them had experienced more in their short lives than many of us could ever imagine, and she longed to be able to do something to remind them that they were not forgotten. Finally, she had an idea: she would send each of them individualized Christmas gifts from Canada – all 150 of them!i-love-you-sign.jpgThe more she talked about her experience, the more her school and community worked to support the idea. Each person in her school brought $2 to help pay for the shipping of the gifts, and many community members pitched in to help to buy, sort and send their packages of love. The shipping company promised a holiday delivery. It arrived at the end of February. For many of us that would have been enough cause to throw our hands up in the air and freak out, but not this crew. They were just excited that someone remembered them and took the time to show them in such a tangible way. When they opened the gifts only a few short weeks ago, they were excited and thrilled at what they found insideThese kids hardly own anything to speak of. Their flip flops, their clothes, and their entire lives are communal. While that may be economical, it isn’t always possible to feel like you are special within that context. The staff work with them to make them feel individual, but in the end, some of them, like us, need to know that they are special to someone. And that is what this Christmas delivery was about. Each child in the home received a package that was individualized to them within certain limits. They had their own gift to open and to cherish. Vicky and her friends were very intentional about finding gifts that would be something they would be able to use, but also to enjoy. One of those gifts that a few of the children received were their own Etch-A-Sketches. The staff at the home reported back that the kids were enjoying their toys and gifts for hours and were all so excited to share with each other.The Etch-A-Sketch has been around the world since the 1950’s. It has survived many generations of creativity, and most of us finger-poses.jpgprobably still have one somewhere in our basement. But few of us would say that it changed our lives and made us feel loved. Except if it was one of the few gifts that we had ever received in our lives. Then, it becomes an Etch-A-Sketch of love.Vicky is the kind of person that we love to have join us on a Hero Holiday: she is someone like you. She just wanted to be a part of making a difference and wanted to reach out and remind them that they are not forgotten. You can join us this August in Thailand and be a part of something life changing! Check out”Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: March 30th, 2011