I wish I had a wrecking ball and a bull dozer to tear down language barriers like Berlin Wall style. When you have so many questions and curiosities, sign language and pantomiming won’t get you far. Or will it?
Today we flew from Bangkok to Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand. It was about an hour flight but the minute we landed I already could draw a deeper breath. Lush mountains and rice fields blanketed the scenery for miles. Low clouds hung mid way up the mountains exposing their faces in a higher atmosphere. A sight that makes you want to grab the closest vine and swing through water falls and tree canopies.
From the air port we met the director of the Mirror Foundation. Our transportation was a caged in bed of a truck. Imagine Jim Carey in Ace Ventura Pet Detective when he is driving in the jeep and throwing his head like he maneuvering rough terrain and picture us, minus the acting. Our rollercoaster ride on roads like I have only seen in Costa Rica led us up into hill country. One word: breath-taking, like a thief this landscape will rob you of oxygen and leave your eyes pleading for more gorgeousness to seep in.
Mirror works with the hill tribe people that have fled neighboring countries and crossed over to Thailand looking for work. I was able to record copious footage of these gracious people ( I tried to upload videos today but the internet is too slow so I will wait until wifi speeds up to share… sorry for all the blank posts and false alarms just sit tight!) There are about 100 volunteers that come for a month or two or up to a year to help educate these people and work with them to gain citizenship. These volunteers come from all over the world to give of their lives to helping assimilate these immigrants and refugees into a functioning and self sufficient life style.
The children were so pure, brimming over with smiles. I only wonder when that demeanor will begin to fade away with harsh reality. Here’s the thing; we live in the same world, but we don’t. We do physically, but not socially. In the world that these kids live in, not too long after they turn about age 10 they will be pressured to help earn money for the family. Boys are more encouraged to study than girls, so because their education is important, the girls go to work to support. These darlings are sent to the city where there are more jobs and when they are unable to find jobs because of a lack of citizenship, education, cultural knowledge, or vocational skills, there is little left than to be completely taken advantage of.
I immediately scooped up the first child I saw and just wanted to hold them. Of course my mind was reeling with uncertainties; what if these people just think we are a group of white people that pass through thinking we are better than them, wanting to take pictures, play with their cute little kids, have a little travel tour experience and leave. But the neat thing is that beyond all race, culture, style, religion, age or philosophy every person in our group completely meshed with this village. Our group has every flavor from Hindu, Jew, Christians, Agnostic, Eastern thought ages 17-40 and yet we all sense the overwhelming value of human life and so we are only able to exude a love beyond ourselves to these people. It is so natural and so after sharing a meal in their hut we all took polaroid pictures ( My prized photo is with a toothless man smoking his opium pipe and wearing an Indiana Jones hat) and then did a native tribal dance around the fire with all the women.
I don’t know exactly what they were singing in their native language but I was gazing up at the stars and feeling the love of God pouring from the thick black night sky on these people confident that they have a hope and a future. Love is a toxic remedy that when shared and can change one life at a time. I would rather spend my energy while breathing on this earth loving these people and rescuing them from the traps of vulnerability then concern myself with monthly payments and a destined career path. After all, i dunno maybe its over used, but here is an easy acronym that when in doubt WWJD.
stay tuned for moreeee and vids!