I went to Thailand on November 1, 2005, my intention to change the lives of children involved in the sex trafficking trade. What I did not expect, is how much my life would be forever changed.My area of assignment was not the main campus at DEPDC but was the more rural location of BCPR, meant for children, some of whom had parents that were incarcerated, had abused them or abandoned them. The first little girl I met, was a 6 years old, who was being sexually abused by her father but who was very attached to him.As with most children, it was better to live with the bad that is known than to go to the unknown.She had subsequently, shut down since being placed in the program.
I was scared and excited at the same time. This is what I wanted, but going to a country where you know no one, not speaking the language , traveling on my own, was scary, but the thought of being able to help children trapped and hurting, was a dream come true.
For the next five months I experienced challenges in teaching with little resources, such as insufficient books, pencils, just certain essentials that we take for granted in an average or even below average classroom. So I bought what I could and as the classroom was an open sided tent in the midst of Thailand’s rural but scenic country, I improvised.
There was a little lake, where the children swam occasionally, the mountains nearby, the open rice fields so we used those to learn colors and the names of things. We also used the sky and the flowers to learn English. When we got tired of reciting the colors and the name of animals and counting, we played football and sang Jimmy Cliff’s song “You Can Get if you Really Want”. I bought them toy animals that we used to learn the names of animals. I bought cake and ice cream and presents and celebrated Christmas and they squealed in delight with their dolls and cars (for most of them their first) and they also fought and broke them up after a while.
I hope these children age 5 – 18 learned to be children again, to play, (most of them have been working since they were knee high), learnt that they were valuable, that they could dream and be whatever they dreamed of. But most of all, I hope they learned that it was possible to begin to trust again. The most valuable lesson was learnt not by the children though, but by me. I learnt the gift of kindness and that you don’t have to be rich to give. As my going away gift, they gave me two blouses. One belonged to one of the girls, the other they bought. They had so little, I don’t know where they got money to buy me anything. I learnt that love is not dependent on what you get but what you give.
As I left the school at the end of March, the children ran behind me screaming and crying, begging me not to go, even the ones who rarely came to school but preferred, instead to play. I looked in unbelief at their outpouring of emotions, something inside of me said someone put them up to this , this is not real. My heart broke I wanted to take them all with me. I left a part of my heart in Thailand that day, I will never be the same and this is why I had to start this organization.