Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Courage: Thailand

Hearing stories have this amazing way of transporting us from eager listeners to supporting characters in the words being brought to life before us. I am currently addicted to the show “Once Upon A Time”. A friend of mine and I are both into the show and can’t get enough of it. It’s to the point where when I sleep at night, I dream about the characters—their lives, stories, where the plot is headed, and I happen to be involved somehow. I’m never a major character, but someone who is around viewing the happenings eager to lend a hand, an ear, or sometimes, even a little magic.

Magic, as people say, is all around us. I guess it’s what we view magic to be which varies. The idea of magic can be described as the whimsical beauty in the creation around us. The grand ideas people have, the way they are put to action with nothing more than a leap of faith, the power coming from within to change your circumstance, or the circumstances of those around you, for the better —that is truly incredible and could easily be classified as magic. 

When our team of volunteers visit the drop-in centre, a common question is how kids are able to cross the border from Myanmar to Thailand—to cross over from being at risk for exploitation, exploited or living in the garbage dump to the safe haven of the drop-in centre or hopefully the children’s home. There’s a bridge which connects the two countries. This bridge is comparable to any other border crossing—security on each side. You must show your passport, pay any fees that may exist, fill out immigration forms, all the generic stuff. What makes this crossing different is the bridge itself is sort of a ‘no-man’s land’, if you will. The bridge is between the two places and leaves you in transit from one place to the next. The bridge belongs to no one—except the individuals who sit on the sidewalks and beg, the kids who are selling easy-buy items or the children who play beneath in the water.

Myanmar on one side, Thailand on the other.
The river below has kids swimming in and across it. As I’m sure it comes as no surprise, these kids are often referred to as ‘bridge kids’. As kids who either play beneath the bridge, or beg on the bridge, these kids are often stateless with no side really taking responsibility for where they should be.  Parents are often either not around or the ones encouraging the kids to do the begging or selling of cigarettes or other items to make a quick buck for their family.

So, how do these at risk children or those stuck in unimaginable situations, when seeking safety, get across the border to come to the drop-in centre or to the children’s home? There’s a wonderful lady who aids those children and brings them across the border from Burma to Thailand. As a former Catholic Nun, she has quite an interesting background and a whole lot of spunk. As you can imagine, she has to bring these children across with no passport and often not even one single piece of identification.  When asking how she does what can be viewed as the impossible, the response from the workers at the drop-in centre is simple; “Just courage, just be brave to do what you have to do. If you have evidence you won’t hurt the child there can be negotiation over bringing the child across. Just in the right place at the right time.”

“Just courage, just be brave to do what you have to do.”

In a recent episode of Once Upon A Time the Wicked Witch of the West is attempting to travel back in time. To do so, she needs certain items for her spell. These items include a brain, a heart, innocence (which is portrayed as a new-born baby) and courage.  Courage is one of the main requirements for magic to reach its full potential and transport the witch back in time to re-create her destiny.

In the story of the worker I can easily see how her courage is like magic; how her courage finds her in the right place at the right time to receive compassion and understanding so she can bring across children to safety in Thailand. Against all odds she prevails and is able to save children from the understandably described as evil situations they are in. Even more like magic, in passing from Myanmar to Thailand in what is an instant in comparison to the length of life's journey, the lives of these children will have a future brighter than anyone could have imagined.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Aelea, This is a great story. And, I,too, have a the guilty pleasure of watching Once Upon a Time :) So grateful to have experienced this trip with you!


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