Friday, June 1, 2012

Thailand 2012 - Part 5

Goodbye Party....There were so many amazing moments that made up the wonderful evening that we all shared together. Here are just a few of the highlights of the evening...

Group shot: Our team with the staff and kids.
Last night was the Goodbye Party! We left the hotel decked out in jeans since the bugs come out in full force in the evening and our See The Change t-shirts which feature a story involving JK and Kru Nam on it. On the way to the home we were a van packed with mixed emotions: Excited about all the fun we were going to have and sad about the last goodbyes we will have to be saying.

Upon arriving to the party we all started playing! The completed playground was in full use, the basketball court was full of people playing basketball and soccer, and the kids were running around with all of us trying to make the best last memories they could. A few of the girls that had become fond of me during our time there wanted to just sit with me and look at pictures on my camera of our time in Thailand. It was a great bonding moment as they pointed to the faces on the display screen and then pointed to the person in real life. It's cute to watch their faces light up as you say "yes!" to them as they identify the right person. We all know I'm not really a kid person but I definitely grew fond of those little girls too!

The girl who finally smiled :)
I was sitting by myself for a brief moment and one girl who barely cracked a smile during the time we were there ran up to me and gave me an adorable bracelet. The first time I saw her in the home she was playing "stella stella ol-ah" and she was SO serious the ENTIRE time! She was the referee, making sure everyone was playing correctly and would correct you if you were doing something wrong. I remember seeing her stern face ALMOST break into a smile when she slid her hand away JUST before the person next to her slapped her hand at the count of the number 10. You could see her excitement bubbling up inside but she didn't let it out! When she won the entire game she smiled and then the game was back on for another round and another go at her ensuring all was fair with the game. The fact she came up to me with a bracelet, slid it onto my wrist and tightened it and then smiled at me just melted my heart. I smiled at her and she smiled and giggled back.  It was a moment I won't forget.

I continued to show pictures and little Oranuh came and attached herself to me for the evening. We held hands pretty much all night and she never left my side. During the time before dinner while we all played a little girl I had only played with a couple times came up to me saying my name and handed me this adorable, handmade change purse. She showed me how it opens up and revealed inside a bracelet. She took it out and put it on my wrist. Another precious, melt-your-heart moment. 

Dinner was eaten outside and consisted of some sticky rice, Pad Thai, french fries and the request of the kids, fried chicken and a variety of other meat! We had hotdogs, crab sticks, and more meat I ate without really knowing what it was. Oranuh put my plate together for me and showed me how she likes to eat her meals: Make the rice into balls and then the balls are easy to roll in the other food and pop into your mouth. The way she showed me how it was done and how she coached me on my other eating skills during dinner (how to best eat a Mango when you only have a spoon) really showed me she cared. During dinner the home showed us this awesome slide show they put together of our time with the kids. Throughout our time together they had been randomly snapping pictures and they put it all together with music for us. It was so touching and VERY unexpected. 
JP and I with some friends.
After the dinner and the slide show came...the baby powder game. I had never played this game before but I already knew I was about to get covered with the baby powder. We all sat in a circle and, hot potato style, passed around 2 giant sized bottles of baby powder. When the music stopped you went up to the front and Pee Pot and JK would tell you what you had to do with the baby powder! It could be anything from put it in the face of the person to your left, the person across from you, the most beautiful girl, a friend from Canada, someone with glasses, etc. Eventually it just turned into a full on Baby Powder fest!! The kids were filling their hands and just throwing it on everyone! We were COVERED and, of course, also helped do some of the covering. 

Bianca about to hand out gifts.

After the baby powder fest we each took turns saying a few special words to the kids about how they have impacted us, how amazing they and the staff are and how they will all hold a special place in our hearts. Then we had the HUGE pleasure and awesome opportunity to present them with their gift bags!!! Oh how they were so excited and how we were so excited too!!!! It was a special moment to be able to hand each kid a gift of their very own. They held onto those backpacks and purses for the rest of the night and we know they will cherish them for years to come. 

During this time the girls kept coming up to me and giving me bracelets! I received a total of 7 of them and was just blown away by the love the kids were expressing. It helped me realize that, until someone lets you know how big of an impact you have had on their life, you will never know. I never knew I impacted each individual girls life but I did and they expressed that to me by giving me the bracelets. 

Chinese Lanterns!
The staff of the home surprised us with something that pumped me up like I couldn't believe. They had CHINESE LANTERNS!!!!!!!! I have wanted to release Chinese Lanterns for SO LONG!!!! They are so incredible and magical and marvellous! I was able to release it with the girls I grew the closest with and it was such an inspiring moment.... To see those giant lanterns float up into the sky, lighting it up and seeing them fade away into the distance, knowing the bright gorgeous light they have were shedding that light on places we couldn't see was almost an amazing metaphor for our time spent in Thailand. We see our impact right away with how the kids have grown to show love to each one of us and even when we leave Thailand, the light of our time spent there will be seen by others. So amazing. 

The kids then presented us with amazing handmade gifts. Scarves that they had made and dyed with tea leaves that we all oohed and awed over the first day we met Yeem, stuffed Elephants, stuffed Birds, change pursues, key chains and more. Normally I am not the person to get things from the kids... The other fun people on the Hero Holidays get amazing gifts but I never did...I just didn't have that connection others did with the kids. I don't really get too into playing with them. I am more of the 'play on the first day then work the rest of the days' kind of person. I'd often feel my impact was better made while working. This year, the kids liked me and I liked them and it was so encouraging. This in itself inpires me and I know I have more work to do in Thailand.

Then it was dance party time! We danced and danced and danced. It was fun to see EVERYONE at the home get in on the dancing! From staff to the youngest of kids. The group of gals I had been hanging out with and I would all hold hands, then move around in a cirle one direction, then change it up and go the other direction. Then we would all step into the circle and lift our hands up, then move back out and repeat the process. It was so fun! Oranuh and I had some dance time together too full of spins and jumping and...of course...more baby powder...

Then Kru Nam came and we did a big group photo then it was time to leave. The kids walked us to the van and Oranuh held my hand (and my water bottle) and walked me to the van. She made the other kids make room for me to walk to the van and then hugged and waved goodbye. It was a sad moment but, inspirational. 

The impact left, while in different ways, has been huge and mutual. Time spent will not be forgotten, experiences will be told over and over in story form, and the faces will stay with us forever.