Friday, October 1, 2010

Future Light Children's Home

For the next few weeks, I'm volunteering at Future Light Children's Home in Mae Sot, Thailand. The town shares a border with Myanmar, so it's got a big refugee community. Future Light is a home for Burmese refugee children ranging in age from about 1 1/2 to 16. There are 36 of them here right now, and every last one of them is absolutely amazing. My favorite thing about them is that they're ALWAYS smiling! I'm so amazed with how well behaved they are, and how much they love and support each other. I've been there since the beginning of the week and I've yet to see even the smallest argument. I've also yet to hear a single complaint out of any of them. They're all already smarter than I can ever hope to be... not only are they pretty much completely self sufficient and independent, but they can also speak, read, and write Burmese, Thai, AND English. Keep in mind each of those has its own alphabet!

I'm staying at the home with the kids, and life there is the epitome of roughing it. Not only is there no air conditioning, but they don't even have fans, and the temperature gets well into the 90's everyday. There's no shower, and obviously no Western toilets- just one squat toilet for 42 people. The "house" is comprised of a main room, a room where the girls sleep, and room where the boys sleep, and a room for the house parents. There's also a kitchen/eating area outside behind the house. The backyard is just a big dirt patch- it's straight out of a movie. There are pigs in the yard to the left, and a sweatshop to the right. They sleep on the hardwood floors, with only the thinest bamboo mats you can imagine, and there are at least 5 kids to one mat. The little girls have to sleep so close together that they can't even straighten their legs. There are 7 or 8 of them on one mat, under one mosquito net. I've been sharing a mat and net with 4 of the older girls. They give me the only pillow, and they use me as their pillow. Like I said, living out there is definitely roughing it and it's tough for me, but the kids are so amazing that it's completely worth it. I have the luxury of quitting anytime I want- they don't.

This is Nunu. She actually lives out back in a house with her father, but she spends all her time with the rest of the kids. She's definitely one of the cutest kids I've ever met, and I've met a lot of kids. No matter how bad my mood is, as soon as she comes over to me I just can't help but smile.

The kids are all best friends, and you can tell how much they love each other. With them, there's no such thing as cliques or bullying, and being left out is unheard of. They'll even adjust their games to make sure everyone can play, from the youngest kids all the way to the oldest.

This is Matay. He just came to the home last week, but you'd never know it! He's adjusting so well and the other kids treat him as if he's been there for years.

I swear, these kids could start a circus. They've all got crazy tricks up their sleeves and I'm always so impressed with what they can do. And they're definitely not shy about showing off!

I've been making bracelets with all the kids, and I can't believe how into they are- even the boys! They want to make them as soon as they wake up and the second they come home from school, all the way until bedtime. I'd say about 100 bracelets have been made in just the past two days! I brought a big bag of thread with me and my supply has just about run dry already. They picked up on it so quickly- it took a lot of them just one try, and a few of them even figured it out on their own. I've been cranking them out as fast as I can so everyone can have one, and in return, they've all been making ones for me. I think I'm up to 13 now! My wrist is getting pretty heavy...

This is Adam- the youngest of the kids. He's got a habit of getting into everything, and he's always a mess. I can't tell you how many times I've caught him sitting by himself playing with a pair of scissors or a knife. I've never been anywhere like this before, where the kids have next to no supervision or guidance, and it kills me.

The kids all LOVE the camera, and they certainly aren't shy. I've got more videos on their way, but for now, meet a few of the kids...

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