I hope you all enjoyed last week’s video and photo update. Here’s more:
There are forty-one children at Future Light Children’s Home. We spent the morning playing games and doing art activities. The kids never grew tired of running around or hanging out with their new friends from Bangkok. Had any of them truly been tired, they surely would have been enthusiastically replaced by another brother or sister. By mid afternoon the play time had been converted into a group effort to do chores. The combination of the chores and the stifling Mae Sot heat made the kids yearn to go bathe in the nearby river.
“You know before the water is blue. But today, the water bad. Very brown. The rains not come.” This observation from one of the older boys didn’t seem to disparage his younger siblings at the orphanage. They had already jumped into the river from the rocky shore of the muddy Irrawaddy, not hesitating to begin bathing and playing. I looked up at the movement across the waters, examining the boats who were loudly vacillating between Thailand and Burma. The children, like the boats, are caught in a stateless limbo because of decades of conflict in Burma and Thailand’s muddy policy on refugees and migrants.
The children get three meals of day. A basic meal made of mostly rice and the vegetables that they grow behind the house. So when evening finally came I grinned and proposed to the house dad, Goin, that we sneak away right before dinner and get ice cream for all the kids. He agreed and off we went on his motorbike speeding towards town, but stopping once for gas just outside of Mae Sot. We took off once again to hunt down a bucket sized quantity of vanilla-raspberry swirl ice cream, but the bike stopped again–this time unexpectedly. Mai pen rai–or ‘nevermind’ in Thai I thought. We will work something out I rationed. Maybe someone will offer us a ride I thought, still being hopelessly optimistic. I will just call my team back at the orphanage to pick us up.
No, no, and no answer.
A mile later, still walking alongside the busted motorbike we had almost reached a bike shop that was already closed.
If nothing else was in our favor, the fact that a shop with a tub of ice cream was still open when our taxi arrived brought relief. Goin and I walked back in through the orphanage gates two and a half hours later. Everyone had already forgotten about dinner and kids had gathered singing and dancing their hearts out before bed (see a brief video clip here). Preoccupied with their singing, they didn’t notice the ice cream, the missing bike, or the overwhelming sense of relief we felt upon returning.
That night we scooped ice cream into cones, bowls, cups, and finally bare hands as kids made their second and third rounds for the treat. I can’t recall an instance where ice cream ever tasted so good, nor where the joy it spread was so abundant.
Feels great to have had the opportunity to spend with the kids of Future Light. This week we will be donating $1000 to them on behalf of the Cyril Duncan Siam Children’s Foundation. They are currently rebuilding their house and school and could use the support. If you want more info on making a donation yourself or voluntouring at Future Light you can contact them on facebook (or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org).
“Dream Big, Work Smart, Start Local.”