Sunday, May 20, 2012

Thailand 2012 - Part 1

From my notebook....

I had always wanted to do the Thailand Hero Holiday. Always meaning since I first heard about it. I was never too sure why I wanted to go, but I just had this inner desire to be there. I knew it was going to hold something special for me. We went to Haiti in 2010 and last summer we had the amazing opportunity to lead a team in the Dominican Repulic. After that trip I decided we had to do Thailand next. JP was down so we filled out the application forms, did a Mexican Fiesta Fundraiser that payed most of our way and now, here we are...In Thailand....

Day 1
Today was our first "Real Day" in Thailand. Yesterday we travelled to Chiang Saen (where we are staying) from Bangkok. We got settled into the hotel, went for $4 Thai Massages, ate dinner together, and did an orientation. We met JK - our translator who also works at the Children's Home and is the Thailand representative for Not For Sale. He has a great story and shared it with us over dinner. His story is on the See The Change t-shirts that we were all given to wear on our first day. Maybe one day I'll post it.

Today we had an amazing day taking in SO MUCH Thai culture. ..

On the left is Myanmar, right is Laos
and we are standing in Thailand.
We went to see the Golden Triangle - it's the area shapped like a triangle where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (Burma) meet. We saw people literally walking across the Mekong River! While we watched, Christal said you could see how easy it is for people to be trafficked across the bored. It was so hard to comprehend that these people were walking from one country to the next and no one cared.

Being Blessed by the monk.
JP and I
Next we went to see a GIANT Golden Buddha, did lunch, then had time to go to a temple. It was an amazing experience. We saw all these different buddha's - even different ones for the day's of the week! We saw people come in and pray and give offerings. We found out some fun facts: for being a monk, there are over 260 rules to follow. Then we had a wonderful opportunty to talk to a monk and ask questions. The monks name we chatted (and laughed) with was Pew Crew (obviously spelled and perhaps also pronounced different then what I wrote). He was absolutely hilarious! He told us that all the different poses of Buddha's mean different things. We leanred that the different looking Buddha's (different faces, and bodies) are all from different cultues (Thai, Chinese, etc). And we learned more about him (former Aviation Engineer!) Before we left the monk blessed each of us and gave us a bracelet that he used during the blessing process. The bracelet was to capture all the bad and then, after 3 days, you take it off and tie it to a tree. Loved the experience. It was an honour for him to bless us, even though we share different beliefs.

Side note: Thailand is SO QUIET! The people are so peaceful. 

After the blessings were given we went to the base of the temple and met with Kru Nam. She is an adorable short lady who loves accessories and is full of such joy and has such a big heart. You can feel the passion coming from her. She told us her story which is incredible and amazingly inspiring; She took her art skills and turned herself from someone who didn't know a problem existed, into someone who IS making such an incredible difference in the lives of kids. She was wearing a Not For Sale t-shirt which makes me so excited to intern with Not For Sale.

First time meeting the kids.
After being inspired by Kru Nam we went to Budies Along the Roadside to meet all the kids. They were sitting in rows that reminded me of Gym Class. We each went up and introduced ourselves as JK translated. He told the wide eyed kids our names and what we did and they applauded after each of us. So sweet! After the formal introductions of our team they brought us Lei's made of Jasmine. They came up all smiling, placed them around our necks, then quickly went and sat back down. Christel went to the front and told the kids there were only 2 rules for the time we were going to be spending together: Lots of fun! and Lots of Love! You could tell the kids were pumped that those were the only things they had to keep in mind to do! After the rules the kids were told they could play and they charged at us full of smiles, giggles and hugs that seemed to never end! They seemed to effortlessly show us so much love. Once you were hugging and playing, their past easily slips your mind - you could never tell their pasts were full of exploitation.

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