Mother’s Day in Thailand

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thailand-faces-2.jpgToday is Mother’s Day in Thailand, and our team had the incredible experience of sharing it with some of the kids from the children’s home. The children all go to one of four local schools (where they are allowed to attend but not use any of the government subsidies like all of the other children). Often in school, they are referred to as The Poor Burmese Children, or the Foundation kids, or any other litany of hurtful names. Almost all of the children are orphaned or abandoned. Some of them are in the home because their mothers that are too strung out on drugs that they can’t care for them and keep trying to sell them. All of them have a painful story that led them to this place.thailand-faces-3.jpgHowever, today was about honoring mothers in Thai society and we had the privilege to come to one of their schools and represent their moms for them, so that they wouldn’t feel left out. Allie was one of the girls on our team who came a represented being a “mother” for the children at their school’s special program. These are her thoughts on the experience:”Mothers. So many shapes and sizes and colours that there is hardly a simple definition for the word. She is the one who made you the nest inside herself, protected by layers of her own flesh. She is a woman with beliefs that rub off on your own. To scold you when you need it. To praise you when you need it. From a cut on your knee, sealed back together by the needle and thread of her lips, to someone stealing a piece of your heart as she presses your head in the fissure between of her breasts and reminds you to keep breathing. A Mothers life to me was like my grade five science fair on marigolds. They’d nurture us while they stood back and patiently watched as our bones stacked up and our heads popped up from beneath the soil. thailand-faces-4.jpgBut now the word that was once so structured seems to have changed, replaced by a new set of eyes instead of the sleep covered ones I had in the early morning as I removed my shoes at the doorway and prepared myself for three hours of non-English speaking chaos. It was my first time seeing the kid’s at school in an environment outside their safety net and I didn’t know what to expect. We waited outside, a fair distance from the school,  until a man dressed in a lint brown suit, sporting a toothy smile and air of great importance waved us to come forward. He ushered us into a room packed with a swarm of mothers old and new, animal calls coming from the throats of adrenaline dosed children in bright dresses and smart high socks barely clinging to their tiny bodies, only competing in volume against the whirring from the tired fans above. We were able to squirm ourselves to a small recess way in the back and as the speeches were given I sat amongst the woman fussing to create masterpieces on the tiny heads of short, black hair, scraped into impossible twists and running sloppy lines of red lipstick to each corner of a moving mouths. Suddenly I couldn’t help but feel like I was part of secret group as I watched the kids I hugged and laughed with and cried for perform with their classmates. It was something I could only describe as pride bursting inside me while their cheeky, plump faces showed signs of concentration on the dance steps and constant distractions of flashes from cameras. For the last couple minutes of the assembly we were called to centre stage. Without looking I knew my white skin had tinged a darker shade, as all eyes looked me over as if I was a duckling thrown into a circle of swans. Though none of it mattered as our kids ran into our arms pinning each one of us with a flower, fake and cheap and LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)ly the most wonderful thing I had ever been graced to adorn. I had beenthe mother to those children. The one normal childhood experience intheir anything but normal life. The sniffles of runny noses could be heard on either side of me and I squeezed the little tribal girl in my arms harder before she could even clip the pin into place. But while the pin kneaded me under my shirt I didn’t think of the tears stains to come from the children’s glittered cheeks. Nor did I ponder on what their life once was. No, I could just think about the kids mothers still living. The Mothers scrounging around in the filth of humanity, in search to feed their ever starving addictions more important than their own blood. The Mothers who walk out the door completely when their husbands or boyfriends seek the sound of skin meeting skin, who leave unspeakable scars that tag along with them to whatever semblance of a life they fight for. Or the Mothers who missed their children’s make-up caked faces in their school performance, the kiss they didn’t press to the cut on their knee, the sounds from their breaking and healing heart.thailand-faces.jpg And I feel sorry for them. That they’d chosen to miss out on something so beautiful. Their children survive on.”

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: August 11th, 2010