Every year in April, Southeast Asia celebrates it’s New Year with a water festival. In Thailand, it’s Songkran; in Burma, it’s Thingyan.
What it is: New Years, a country-wide water fight, a lot of chaos, a lot of alcohol, a lot of dancing. And it’s hot—one of the hottest weeks of the year.
Honestly? It’s sort of sad in our community. Parents without work and with a lot of alcohol kind of creates sad situations, especially for the kids. In recent years we’ve tried to leave so we don’t have to see all the sadness.
But we had an idea this year to try to counteract it: how could we engage? How could we give the children some safe fun? Could we provide a safe place for teens to play and discourage drunkenness? How could we make sure the women have a safe place if they need it?
The first evening was for the girls: nails night.
Mway Mway is dreaming of opening her own salon someday, so we purchased a few special items and I pulled out my nail polish collection. And she did women’s & girls’ nails for a few hours!
We asked that people contribute 5 baht–or 15 cents–for both hands and 5 baht for both feet, so she took home a few dollars. And really, we just had fun listening to music & chatting.
The second evening was movie night: the easiest and by far the most successful!
We pulled out the projector and sound system and started off with Mr. Bean’s Holiday. A hit.
The snacks were also a hit. Toward the end of the first movie, a grandmother came to ask her four-year-old grandson, Are you coming to eat rice? To which he replied, Nope! Whoops.
This was followed by Avengers: Age of Ultron with Burmese subtitles, which a few teens and men stayed late for.
And the last night, we had a youth night. We painted pictures–mostly landscapes of mountains and rivers.
And then we played games and celebrated a birthday!
And overall, we made it. Just the one trip to the emergency room. Just learning to trust in all the things we can’t stop or change. Just learning how much we are invested here, for better & for worse!
Here’s to a New Year, and hoping next week is a bit cooler!