There is a couple at my church that performs songs and puppetry at public schools called Cowboy Buck and Elizabeth. So one of the things we did was visit a Thai Christian School of 2100 kids. The photo here is of an 8th grade English class that Papa D and I visited.
They were totally your typical teenagers! It was great. In working with the kids I found how important it is to have a native English speaker teaching them English. That's one of the reasons that Western teachers are so sought after in college programs, especially. We learned that we could get a job overnight in a University just with a Bachelor's degree. And, since Papa D and I both have them (I am 12 credits shy of my Master's in Ed.), we came home dreaming of working in Thailand!!
When we got done in our English class, we got back to the performance area and saw this sight! We were so shocked to see shy Meyers D standing in front of 400-500 kids singing songs she had just learned! We were so proud of her boldness!!
One of the things I loved most about visiting the school, was seeing so many of the kids wearing their traditional tribal clothing. That was so marvelous and impressive, as well as important. I'm sure that I've expressed this already. But one of the things that I feel is so critical in Thailand, is for the tribal people to hold onto their culture and traditions as they begin to assimilate more into the modern culture. When I go back to Thailand, either short term or longterm, this would be one of my focuses and missions in encouraging the tribal children to not abandon their culture.
This is just a slice of some of the tribal dress you would see in Northern Thailand.
I leave you with some of my favorite pictures taken at the school.
*Karen child with Joe & Terry
So back to the New Life Center girls...
The girls go to school in shifts, with some going during the morning and others during the evening. So we went there twice!
The second time we went there we met this young lady. She was super confident. She grabbed me right away and showed me her tribal dress that she had emoroidered HERSELF!! Wow! I was impressed by her character. I think she has serious leadership qualities. Just another reason why these young ladies need to be encouraged to pursue their degrees AND go back to their tribes to be involved in helping their culture to survive in today's world.
The girls put on a dance with dresses from all of their different tribes. Their dresses were wonderful and I took portraits of all of them and put them on flickr. These girls' lives would have told very different stories if they had not made it to the safety of the New Life Center.
I asked the girls to show me their sleeping quarters. They are squished in like little sardines with a blanket pad to sleep on. Most of them do not have pillows but a few have stuffed animals to lay their heads on. They also have some quilts.
Clearly, roy and lori here fell in love with these great girls, as we all did! What survival stories they all must have. Perhaps after we learn Thai we can hear them all....
Next on our trip was a visit to the New Life Center. It is a home for Thai tribal girls who were going to be sold into prostitution. The girl whose hands are featured here was about 6 years old when she was sent out of her village to work in order to send money home to her family. She worked as a housekeeper, in an orange grove, until when she was about 12 her mother and step-father informed her that she was going to be sold into the sex industry.
She escaped back to a nun whom she had met earlier in her life who sent her to a friend that employed her as a housekeeper. Eventually she was led to the New Life Center where she began to learn Thai and was sent to school. It is the foundation's hope that she will make the choice to go to High School and eventually college. However, many of these girls want to stop their education's before high school so that they can send money home to their families. Often times, these are the very families that were going to sell them.
The girls here were all so wonderful. We took them some food supplies that were paid for, in part, by the donation's raised by the sales of my 2007 calendars.
Also, a few of them dressed in their tribal clothing and performed a cultural dance for us; followed by two of our teenagers who put on a hip hop dance for them!
The girls were very wonderful and sweet. Besides attending school, the girls practice their tribal art of embroider and sell their products to raise money for the Center. This also helps them to learn a trade which can promote the cultural practices of their individual tribe. That is a fact I just love!
Also, we met the neighbor girl to the Center. At first I thought she was six years old. But upon looking at her more closely, she has the body of a young lady and I discovered she is 14 years old! Also, she is deaf. She knows how to read and write very little so her communication skills are quite limited. She really captivated me, even before I knew her circumstances. I really wish she could be helped, so I am praying for her and wondering what services she is getting in Thailand and how she could be helped...(she is the shortest girl in the picture & her name means orange!)
I will write more about these fantastic young ladies in my next post.
I am remodeling my kitchen and my computer is unplugged so I will write more when I can!
Cabbages and Condoms is a government run restaraunt chain in Thailand. I had heard it mentioned before by my missionary friend and I was like: what?!
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One of the first sites we visited in Chiang Rai was Wat Rong Kuhn, a beautiful Buddhist temple designed by an artist. It is so amazing! It is totally white and has tiny mirror affixed all over the structure that sparkle in the sun. We were there on a beautiful sunny afternoon, not a clous in the sky which was the most magnificent blue. The tiny mirrors, millions of them, made the temple shimmer. All of a sudden two large fountains would go off in the front which made the whole temple sparkle even more.