|An old style home in the center with a newer version on the left.|
|These homes were above the village. Perhaps for leaders.|
Every year, on the second Saturday in January, Thailand celebrates Children's Day. In Bangkok, public buildings are open and sometimes even military bases, to allow children to see a world outside their classroom. My school decided to celebrate this year by going to one of the hill tribe villages near here to provide gifts for the children and entertainment for the village. Before leaving, we met at the school to load trucks with blankets, food and presents. We drove an hour north of here past temples, rice fields and orchards. As we approached our destination I could see and smell smoke from burning fields. I went with the vice principal, Suchot, and my friend, Malee, in Suchot's truck. Others came by car, van and songtauw. When we arrived, we crossed the quiet country road and walked down a narrow alley that opened up to this.
This is a Catholic church in the center of town. All around me were young children, parents and old people, smiling and talking. Students from my school were mingling some among the local kids, though generally they stayed together among themselves. Teachers and students were arranging gifts on the stage. There looked to be at least a hundred people there, all calm and happy to be there.
We sat and ate a breakfast of sticky rice, grilled pork and chicken, and some boiled greens and squash. The morning then moved to our students performing some dances and singing. All the families gathered around sitting on plastic chairs or the ground to enjoy the show.
The day culminated with games and giving out blankets to each of the children. All day long, I kept my sweatshirt on, something I had never done in Thailand before.
|Malee and some others try to make their balloon pop first.|
The reason the school chose this village this year was for another reason that I had not written about before because, at the time, I was so disturbed by it. During the first semester, a young girl from this village was a student at my school. She was swimming in the pool during a class when she drowned. Such a thing had never happened before at the school and much was done to comfort the family. I also instigated having them install safety equipment at the pool. The funeral was held at this village and on the hill above the church, she is buried. Still, the village welcomed us warmly and even shook our hands as we left.
If you are ever concerned that you might not be able to buy the latest cell phone or get to the newest restaurant in town. There are people everywhere who are in so much more need. My heart goes out to the Akha as it did for the little girl.