Thailand July Update by Charlene Wilde
After the 35 hour plane process, we have made it safe and sound to Thailand! As soon as we walked off the plane, made our way through customs, and exchanged our American dollars for Thai bahts, we all boarded a bright pink and purple double-decker bus for Khao Lak. Since we had plenty of time to kill, we made a stop at a local Phuket beach. Due to it being monsoon season, we weren’t able to swim in the water. On the sand, there was an equal ratio of sand-to-garbage. Another interesting ratio is the amount of mopeds to cars. It seems like every other business we drive by is one selling mopeds. Seeing all of this for the first time, it is a definite attack to the senses. Everything is bright and beautiful; the houses are frequently magenta, turquoise, and lime green. The trees are a deeper green and are everywhere you look. Something more beautiful than the land here are the people. This truly is the “Land of Smiles.”
Nerves were at an all-time high as we made our way to the school this morning. As soon as we pulled up and saw the kids peeking out of the school doorway, all nerves became non-existent. The day and a half it took to get here became worth it just in their smiling and waving to the incoming vans. We made our way into their lunch room and sat behind the kids for the Opening Ceremonies. About half of the way into their greeting through dance and ours through song, the Youthlinc kids merged themselves into the crowd of Burmese children. Kids went out of their way to make sure us volunteers had room to sit by them and were overjoyed to be sitting by us. The overall happiness and acceptance was something none of us could have prepared for.
After the ceremony came to a close, we all hopped up and ran to the dirt field to play games with one another. A giant soccer game broke out but, since there were 40 volunteers and close to 50 kids participating, volunteers broke off with groups of kids and played a variety of other games (there is also the fact that 7 year old kids were kicking our butts but that’s besides the point.) We started every game we could think of: Red Rover, Down by the Banks, Duck Duck Goose, Ring Around the Rosies. There was a group that was doing jump rope tricks. They got a kick out of the Macarena. They also love Let it Go from Frozen, you can just say the words “let it go” and the will sing the whole chorus for you including hand movements and everything! We are already in love with all of the children, to be around such pure and happy little beings is so uplifting. Even in 87 degree weather and 95% humidity, the kids bring out a new side of us that keeps us going. We were sweating non-stop and were keeping very active but seeing the smiles on their faces and hearing their laughs kept us up and playing.