Last month my Mum jumped on a plane and headed to Chiang Mai, Thailand. The majority of our trip was actually spent visiting a orphanage 4 hours south of Chiang Mai, but we also enjoyed a few days exploring this easy going city of northern Thailand.
This was my second trip to Mercy International – Ban Meata. I was fortunate to visit for a short time 3 years ago and completely fell in love with the children and the work everyone is doing there.
The sweet, little precious children who call this village home are so blessed to live in a healthy, stable, safe, nurturing environment. Obviously it’s not perfect, but it’s SO much more than the places they have come from. Some lived in slums where their parents were so addicted to drugs they couldn’t care for or even recognise their own children; Some children were abandoned or given up; many of their parents are in jail for drug trafficking. Because of these circumstances children were often living with other family members who couldn’t afford to feed them. I learned that prior to moving to the village one precious baby girl was being fed watered down condensed milk simply to survive. We are so particular about brand names and safety ratings and what is technically and politically right – but children all around the world are being fed anything (ANYTHING!) just to have a slight chance at living. Millions of children around the world die from hunger each year, with poor nutrition being the cause of approximately half the deaths in children under five. It’s estimated that even here in Australia almost a couple of million people live below the international accepted poverty line. In Thailand there is a huge issue with addition to drugs (and trafficking them), specifically in this region, and of course there is the issue with abuse, prostitution and human trafficking all around the world. Well over a million children are caught up in the business of human trafficking every year, and this heartbreaking figure does not even include adults. The statistics are hard to comprehend and although you and I can’t change the world we should never underestimate the impact of one small act of kindness; a hand written note, a donation to charity or the impact that sponsoring a child has on a family and their whole community.
Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much – Helen Keller
Thankfully all of the children in this orphanage are healthy and very happy, even though some of their parents are terribly sick and living with HIV. These children are living in a safe and protected environment. Their young lives have been filled with more challenges than I could possibly imagine, and yet here they are – full of smiles, laughter and energy; full of love for each other and appreciation for the simplest things in life. They are all being fed well and are starting to be taught about nutrition which will hopefully break the cycle they have been apart from.
Each child has a warm bed to sleep in, clean clothes to wear, something to love (many siblings and also toys). They are all getting a great education and learning English, which means they will all be completely fluent in it and will very much surpass the level they would learn just at school. This understanding of English will be so advantageous and is bound to open many more doors once they are old enough to study or seek employment. These children have all been given hope of a bright, beautiful future.
What a blessing it was to be able to see these children thriving. It was such a joy to be able to hug, comfort, play with, create with, teach, encourage, pray for them and just love them. Although I left a little disappointed, with the feeling that I could/should have done more or been more productive, I know the time I spent with these children and the other volunteers was special and the experience has enriched all of our lives.
With Christmas coming up, I encourage you to try to think of a way that you and your family can bless others less fortunate than yours. In the words of Anne Frank…
No one has ever become poor by giving.