December 10, 2014
They say while you are here there will be one moment that touches you the most. Today, I had that moment. We were at the garbage dump after the giveaway. I had saved a small stuffed puppy for someone special. I found one little boy that was with his mom sitting on the floor of their home. He had the biggest smile while eating an orange that his mom brought back from the giveaway. I knew his little hands were the perfect home for this small stuffed animal. When I came up to him he was giggling and trying to hide. Between his mom and I, we tried to lure him out of his house to give him the puppy. I set it on a rock for him and took a step back. He reached out and grabbed it and got the biggest smile on his face. After capturing the moment, I walked back to the van unable to hide my emotions. Through a chocked up voice, I expressed what had just happened and how it had made me feel to my group members in the van. I couldn’t believe that all it took was $1 to put a permanent smile on this boy’s face who I didn’t even know the name of. I was told that I had “just made his life.” It was the most rewarding, emotional feeling and the best way to end my trip.
December 5, 2014
Hope is an optimistic attitude of mind, based on an expectation on positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in ones life or the world at large.
Through the last two days hope has surrounded us in many ways.
Starting off we ventured to Mae La refugee camp. This camp houses about 45,000 refugees. The feeling and view of the camp was overwhelming. The contrast of the beautiful landscape and the hardships of what the camp contained were breathtaking. We heard stories of the struggles the refugees had to undertake to get to the camp. Safety at the refugee camp is what gave those people hope. The day we were at the camp was very interesting because it was international day of the disabled. Celebration was everywhere. As a group we were educated on the issues of land mines, it was such an eye opener. Knowing these types of danger are such a common scare for the people gave us chills. It was refreshing to see that there are people educating the people at risk about the land mines and proper precautions.
While at the camp we hiked up to Pastor Arthur’s Orphanage. Pastor Arthur has given hope to the 150 children who have lost or been separated from their families and or parents. The children sang and played music for us. It was so humbling. The talent these children have is unexplainable. It was hard not to get emotional when hearing the beautiful music of young Angels. Even though these children have been through so much they still smile, laugh and are so grateful for the small things in life. Being safe is everything and anything they would ever need in their eyes. Words were expressed to us that ” seeing us, gives them hope”.
Next we trekked a long journey to/through Burma. To the village of Nei Po Khee. This village is deep in the Burmese jungle and contains about 150 people. Last year the SIAST students were the first group of Caucasian people they have ever seen. That is amazing! The happiness the SIAST students brought them gave the village people new light and hope. The greeting our group received was heartwarming. We brought toys, treats and even a movie and projector for the village to enjoy at night! It was so great! Having a village that is so isolated from what we think is a normal world was eye opening. We did a craft with the kids, some of which were 10-14 year old boys. These boys a few years ago would have been soldiers in the war. Doing something as simple as a craft brought such happiness to their eyes. The greatest part for all of us SIAST students was getting to sleep in the girls dorm we worked so hard to raise money for. There is so feeling or word to describe what that felt like. Being part of their village for the two days was an amazing experience. Everything from eating with them to sleeping with them to being woken up with their singing. The children even took us to their sanctuary of a waterfall. It was a tough hike but so worth it! Spending so much time and growing to love these people brought so much hope to a brighter future for them.
On our way back we stopped briefly at another school that Global Neighbors has never been to. It was a very small one room school. There was a little boy with cleft pallet. Global Neighbors has offered to bring hope to this young boys life by funding his surgery through operation smiles. Witnessing that offer of love put in perspective how something that could be peanuts to us is the world for them.
These past two days have impacted us in such a touching way. We want nothing more than to give the world to all these people, hope is the start of a brighter future.
Stephanie Pidkowich & Anna Kowaluk
December 5, 2014
This morning we went out to Koh Koh medical clinic in Burma. We met the young adults, kids really, who had decided that they wanted to spend their lives saving others. We brought them supplies to help on their journey. Things that we can all get at home, like gauze, bandages, medical scissors, and simple medication, these young people were so thankful for. We organized all the supplies while the medics chose the backpacks they would take with them. The smiles on those faces, could not have been bigger. These young people were going out to save lives, and I am so thankful to be part of that. In the same area, we attended the grand opening of a housing complex for single mothers, some women were widows, others just on their own. These women now had a safe place to stay with their children.
After a delicious lunch we went to the Mae Tao clinic. This clinic is seen as advanced to some locals, but by the standards of Canada, it would be shut down. Even though it has some downsides, the people there have done so much to help so many people. It was incredible to see the devoted staff help everyone that came to them. We dropped of maternity packs to the new mothers, and even though they must have been exhausted, they all smiled.
For supper we met the Wide Horizons group. These young people are the leaders of tomorrow and are wonderful to talk to. I’m sure everyone in our group will have many new Facebook friends tonight. We went to a bbq where our new friends showed us how to eat everything properly and probably giggled at our questioning looks towards some of the food.
It was an amazing day. Making new friends is always fantastic, and seeing the medicinal side of Thailand and Burma was an incredible learning experience, it had inspired me, and I’m sure a few others, to find new ways to help.
December 4, 2014.
This morning the group made our way to a small cafe in the heart of Mae Sot. It was one of those places most tourists would probably overlook and pass by, but not today. We all tried food we have never seen before and it was absolutely delicious. This just goes to show you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. We then toured around the morning market and got a feel for how Thai and Burmese people live. We smelt the smells and took in the unique sights of animal heads laying out for sale. We saw many things that we’re shocking to us, but normal to the locals. Next, we went to the farm where we packed up some seemingly small items but what happened next I will never forget. We travelled to Rocky Mountain 2 which is a migrant school in a remote village. We arrived thinking we would have another heartfelt day but never knew exactly what was ahead. We unpacked our crafts and containers of beads and introduced ourselves to the students. Some of us painted the dining hall while the rest of us kept little hands busy. You would never expect a bright pink bead to make someone’s day but I have never seen smiles so big. Watching these kids who are so grateful for what they have, which to us seems like so little, tears at your heart strings. At the end of our visit the principal said a few words to us but one thing took my breath away. He told us “thanks for sharing your love with us” and that is one thing that will stick with me forever. To be able to have seen over a hundred people come together and laugh while little faces learn to skip or find out what a hockey stick is was truly amazing.
Teryn Van Der Kooi
December 3, 2014
Yesterday we spent several hours at a migrant school called Rocky Mountain 2. It’s is on the Thai side of the border and there is a large gravel operation close by. Maybe that’s why they call the school Rocky Mountain. Any way its off a terrible road ( no gravel there!) , just a small village all bamboo houses and a school that has k to grade 8. Bamboo seats and desks! Yikes, can’t imagine sitting on that for hours a day. Thanks to Lena we had some crafts prepared, also took beads for the kids to make necklaces and bracelets and a whole pile of sports stuff. One of young travellers brought a whole pile of mini hockey sticks. Omg. They were a huge hit! If Burma ever has a field hockey team these kids will be on it. We played red light green light, 3 legged race, sack race, and what time is it Mr Wolf. So much laughter and excitement for them and us too! These kids are poor! Very ragged, many barefoot and all thin, but their smiles were wide. We also brought buckets of paint to clean up their dining hall which was built by one of our teams 3 years ago. We repaired some tabletops and benches that were completely unusable. We had brought electric drills to do this. Getting the chance to use the drill was also very exciting for the older boys and they stood in line for their turn to try.
We brought 150 pair of flip flops, one for each child, also a bag of Doritos and a drink. The children sang for us as we left. It was wonderful and moving. Lots of tears from our students.
Today we are loading for a trip to Mae La refuge camp More news later.
December 2, 2014
Today was a very special day spent at Thay Baw Boe, a village in Burma. The group delivered 20 brand new computers to the Karen school.
Half the group spent time with the kids teaching English. They were surprised at how well educated they were and appreciated their willingness to learn.
The other half of the group and I spent time setting up the new computer room. It was an awesome feeling to see how excited the kids were to see the new computers.
I spent time attempting to play tag with two little girls, their laughter as they stood there and “tagged” me and each other was priceless. There was a few moments I spent with kids crowded around me while I set up the keyboards, teaching each other the alphabet and numbers in each others language. I was also very surprised at how well they knew the English alphabet.
Today was an exciting, fun, overwhelming, and grateful day. The friendliness of the Thai/Burmese people was so comforting and definitely put things into perspective. Even though they are very much in need of help they still manage to smile, laugh and take advantage of every opportunity. The experiences and memories that were made today will be unforgettable.
December 1, 2014.
The group went to Phop Pra today and crossed into Burma by River. The river is quite shallow here and while we waited for the boat we watched several people wade across and a hand tractor drive over. The very happy principal Eh Ku, met us at the brand new school which had only been opened a few days earlier. What an unbelievable change for this community. From a little bamboo hut to this lovely 8 classroom school. From a difficult to access well with water that needed to be boiled to a brand new modern well and water system, not just for the school, but for the entire village! What we delivered today was so fun. We set up and installed 22 computers. The kids are so excited as are the teachers! It’s a huge step ahead for them and will,open up a brand new world. Our group had just a fabulous time interacting with the students. Amanda was smiling non stop and I knew that she was having the time of her life.
We also got to work a bit with the Grade 8 students in their English class. We spent an hour or so learning a bit about each other, soon everyone’s shyness disappeared and the room was alive with chatter.
In the afternoon we worked at the warehouse preparing crafts and relief supplies for the various areas we will visit over the next few days. We accomplished a lot and I felt like the group had a really exciting time for their first exposure to life in Burma.