The recent season has held quite a few unknowns, as Thailand cracks down on illegal labor nationwide (read: our best friends) and makes international visas more difficult (read: our futures) and lends very little information about the adoption process we wait in (read: no idea when or if baby bunny will come).
Unknowns, to say the least. Even more than there always have been, so…
And while we continue to try to keep a community center running, keep six women in jobs, sell bread and flowers once a week, continue praying and hoping for one woman in chemotherapy and ensure her family is cared for, and make sure the blind man doesn’t have tuberculosis but is cared for while he’s in isolation…
Sometimes we spend so much time just staying on top of every day life, I forget how great some of the things are that we see and experience.
But there are just two little side stories of this month that I don’t want to ever forget.
First, this little boy. He’s been spending day after day at our house, where he is “watched” by his grandparents who live across the street. He mostly spends time by himself on our porch, asking multiple times a day if we’ll be playing at 4pm.
There’s definitely an opportunity for him to go to school in the area, but we weren’t really sure why he had slipped through the cracks. We talked to his parents and asked if he could go to school; it seemed money was the issue, and perhaps disorganization and disinterest. We asked the little boy if he was interested, and he was beyond keen.
So then we asked Thida to help, and asked her to check with the teachers to see if he could join late and what grade he’d be in; what costs would be. She got us the information and we “hired” her to help coordinate it all–she’s the best gift of a community help we could have asked for. At the cost of $59, the little boy was enrolled in a year of school, was given three uniform sets, new shoes, and a backpack. And Thida made $6 of that for her help in enrolling him and purchasing all the uniforms.
Thida’s kids attend the same school, so a few days in, they reported back that he didn’t have lunch with him each day. The family helped educate the parents on sending him with a lunch pail each day, so he could eat lunch there. The teacher reports back to Thida that he’s incredibly well-behaved and is just so excited to be learning everything and anything.
Fast-forward a week, when we’ve recovered from dengue and he’s situated into school. He arrives at our door in the afternoon, in an adorable uniform and shiny black shoes, wearing a backpack on and a proud smile.
Are you attending school? Do you like it? What are you learning?
He tells me he’s learning the Burmese alphabet and his Burmese numbers; he says he teacher told him they’ll learn English, too. And he tells me he’s writing it all in his book. He goes on about how his mom walks him to school and he walks home by himself, and how his friend Jor Lay is in the same class. And that he loves his teacher.
…Oh, and are we playing at 4pm today? He asks again.
And just like that, he’s in school. He has a piece of stability in his life, friendships, and new role models. He’s learning and growing, and he’ll be joining us for breakfast each morning starting next week, on his way down the street to school.
I don’t want to forget that. It’s a small, but so well-spent $59. Worth every penny.
And second, this girl. Thida’s daughter, Mwei Mwei, has officially started sewing in our home three days a week and helping us with childcare during Flour & Flowers on Friday mornings. She’ll also be going to the market with me each week to help purchase food for the blind man in the community, purchase bread baking supplies, and purchase ingredients for The Breakfast Club that starts next Monday! She’s back from Bangkok, living with her family, and has a job in a safe environment.
She’s fourteen, and we’d rather her be in school. But if the family is going to take her out of school, we’d rather her be in a safe work environment that values her age and vulnerability, and gives her the opportunity to keep learning. So that’s us–finding a way to do that!
She was able to do six weeks of sewing training at a nearby organization where her sister also works. She is now sewing new items each week to expand her skills. And for about an hour a day, she also takes lessons from us. We have set her up on a computer with math lessons and typing lessons, while we work with her on spoken English, as well as reading, writing, and typing basic English.
And once a week, we’re also having her spend time reading a Burmese book, which I’ll also be reading in English. After each book, she’ll be writing a short paper or two in Burmese, which we’ll go over with a Burmese teacher, so that she can further her Burmese grammar and language skills. I’m excited that we’ve already found I am Malala and some Charles Dickens’ classics online in Burmese; and I’m on the hunt for a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird that is supposedly translated out there somewhere. I’m hoping it promotes some interesting conversations in Burmese between us, too!
And again, just something not to be forgotten. It’s a little success, a budding relationship, a few hours of study. But she’s safe. We get to watch her with her siblings each day. She gets to be told she’s doing a great job and oh-so-clever on a regular basis. And that’s a win.
Here’s to the little wins that just must not be overlooked in the unknowns 😊