Magical Day

This morning we woke up with a purpose.  It was our day to deliver sports uniforms, shoes, socks, pencils and etc. to the school.   We put on our team shirts which were donated by Festival Promotions. The t-shirts were so cute with a beaver holding a   Canadian flag and an Elephant holding a Thai flag.  Under the two country’s totems was written Friendship.   I love wearing team shirts.   They give the feeling of being in it together, bring unity and team spirit and we sure had a lot of it!  The kids put Canada maple leaf tattoos on their cheeks and we represented our country well. 

A little aside to say, that we were accompanied by Nikki and her two children Grant and Julia.  Nikki and I met 10 years ago while teaching English in Suratthani Thailand.  Throughout the years we had lost touch but coincidently have found ourselves once again on Thai soil.  I am so enjoying the rekindling of our friendship.  Her children are also great companions for Zoe and Owen.

We arrived at the school and it was hot, hot, hot!  It was the hottest I have felt on this trip and that is saying a lot because there have been some really hot moments.   It was so hot that I had the impression of melting like the wicked witch of the west when Dorothy threw the pail of water on her; `melting, melting, melting!`. 

The grand moment had arrived, the moment we had been working towards.   While in Canada we pooled money from our friends.  Some people contributed to the fundraised by purchasing Funky Mama CDs and other people donated up to $200 towards the Burmese children in the Koh Phayam School.  Jay and I felt a great responsibility in representing our friend’s generosity.  We gathered in Phillippe’s classroom with the older children and the headmaster of the school. 

In Thailand a person shows respect by waiing.  Waiing is putting your hands in prayer pose up to your chest and bowing to a person.  The hand position depends on the age of the person you are waiing to. For example, if the person is younger than you, you wai with the prayer pose at the chest, same age you wai at your chin, someone older than you at the level of your nose and a monk at the level of your forehead.

Jay presented our gifts to the headmaster and the children waied with a “Kapkoon ma Ka” and “cap” (thank you).  In Thailand men/boys say “cap” at the end of a sentence and women/ girls say “ka”.   There is a lot of cultural etiquette and I love it.  I think it is great that the Thai’ show respect to their elders.  It seems like in our society this is slipping away.

I can relate this point of the experience with the saying: “sometimes it’s the journey and not the destination that matters.”  In other words the gathering of funds, flying over here, meeting the teachers, and purchasing the goods was the most exciting part of the project and giving it was anticlimactic.  As Philippe has told us the Thai’s do not show appreciation with great fanfare as it is not part of their culture.   The anticlimax aside it did feel great to give with no other purpose but for the sake of giving.  The whole project was fun and a great success.

After the giving of our gifts we went outside and to set up the soccer nets.  I feel the need to mention that it was hot! I am always worried that the children are not getting enough water. It is so easy to get dehydrated when the heat evaporates water in seconds.   It seems like you lose as much as you consume.   Setting up the nets was not easy. Once the students were finished eating they met us outside for a soccer game.   They did well and it was great to see Zoe, Owen and Grant playing with the Thai kids.  Soccer is a big thing in Thailand and they showed great skill in manoeuvring that ball around. 

The older kids played soccer while the younger kids hung out at the table in the shade with Nikki, Julia and I, I had brought a bottle of bubbles and got busy blowing and enjoyed watching the children respond as they ran trying to catch and pop them.  As the bubble blowing was going on I was noticing a boy and a girl getting into each other’s space.  He held a plastic bottle and was bonking her over the head with it.  She was raising her leg up in the air akin to a Muay Thai Boxing kick. The only teacher in the school yard stood in the soccer field and did not notice the battle.  In my very limited Thai I asked them to stop but they pretended that I was not there.   Although I was feeling like they should not be behaving this way, it occurred to me that this game might be something perfectly acceptable here.   In Canadian school yards children are stopped from hitting and fighting. We monitor our children to keep them in check and make sure they keep in line.  Here in Thailand maybe they do not hover over their children as much.   Eventually the “poochai”  (boy) hit the girl hard enough to make her cry.  I looked at Nikki and said: “In Canada he would get a time out for that!”  Here in Thailand the girl cried for a while when finally the teacher noticed, said a few words to the boy, comforted the girl briefly and went on his merry way.  I love noticing cultural differences, it is a reminder that there are different ways of doing things and that one is not better than the other. It is only different. 

Zoe came out of the heat from the soccer game and joined us in the shade. We’d brought a pack of Canadian flag tattoos and soon she had a swarm of children around her waiting to be tattooed.  She did a great job handling the swarm of children waiting their turn.   By then Grant came around and they were learning some Thai words and asking the children: “You tee nai, ka? “  This means:   “Where do you want your tattoo?”  Pretty soon the bell rang indicating the end of their lunch break.  It was an enriching experience to be able to interact with the local Thai children.   Although, they received things that they needed I feel like we are the ones that left with the biggest gift. 


Back at our huts we had lunch and did our homework.  The end of the afternoon came around and Zoe, Owen and Grant found themselves playing on the beach.  Julia slept on a nearby chair while Nikki and I read.  Aow Yai beach is one of those beaches where the tide goes far out before it comes back in.  It varies from being extremely wavy to somewhat calm with only a few ripples.  Today as they played the tide was slowly making its way back up the beach.  They built water pools for the crabs that they caught.  They called it their crabitat.  There was great excitement when they explained to us that one of the water holes was a birthing center and that some babies crabs were recently born.   As the afternoon wore on the sun slowly made it’s slow descent from the blue sky and into the horizon. It was the most magnificent view with colours of fire lighting up the sky.  The orange and yellow backdrop made for a beautiful painting. The sun rays cast the children as mere silhouettes on the beach.  It was magic to watch them running, playing and laughing. The only word that can describe it would be: magical.   

It truly was the perfect end to the perfect day.


Anonymous said...

Annie... how beautiful and magical. I read a quote today, and it's all i can think but to share it with you as I read about your adventure and how wondrously you are approaching every aspect of it.
“Give to the world the best you have, and the best will come back to you." ~ Madeline Bridges ~

You give the best... you are giving the best... and it is shining back at you in all that you are taking with you.

big hugs my friends from across the miles.

Janet said...

Your family's careful efforts in using the donations you've received are much appreciated by those of us back home. What joy you've brought to the givers and receivers!
Safe journey back to us.