They have been woven into a tapestry that is thrown at my feet each day. I look down-am reminded that every thread has its place, that each story has relevance. Their tiny silhouettes are dark, but gold peers out from behind. How did they survive their mother poisoning their family dinner? Only a larger force in the universe knows how and why. I am not a mother. I am not a mother with AIDS and nobody to care for my children. I’d like to say I wouldn’t try to kill us all, but I have not worn those shoes. I see that mother back-lit by the golden grace that surrounds us all. Her story, before bringing these children into the world, weaves another tale I will never know.
I am awe-struck by the people who live their lives to help these children. I am motivated to love by witnessing those who move to the opposite end of the world to help comfort these dying women. After spending two weeks in a “second world” country, the threads from these stories-in all their colors and varying weights-have created a variegated runner I must acknowledge every day. This tapestry reminds me of how fortunate I am to have parents that love me, how blessed I am to be healthy and how lucky I am to have a house with four walls.
How do these stories end? Too many of them are still too new to know. Something I DO know: Those kids with the mom who was trying to do things the right way but ended up doing them the wrong way-they were rescued, are now loved and cared for by a local organization in Pattaya. I met people whose sole purpose is to take those stories and re-write the endings.
Meet Margaret. She’s the founder and vice-president of the Hand to Hand Foundation.
She is a woman of character, love and gratitude. And let’s not forget the favor. They were very short-staffed the day we stopped in to help; she was very grateful. She has her hands all over the city, caring for people in a multitude of ways. The foundation has a free pre-school for working parents; a prison ministry; they give out food and clothing to slum inhabitants; they have a hospital ministry; give education scholarships and just started an on-line safety campaign.
Our group had the opportunity to work with the pre-school kids, which was so much fun:
When Margaret asked who wanted to go help in the slums, I jumped at the chance.
Giving out food and clothing is just one aspect of the slum ministries here. The cycle of poverty continues if education does not become a priority. Even when the children want to attend school, it is not always possible. Most times, they cannot afford the supplies and uniforms (see this link to help financially). They must also have a birth certificate to enter the school system. Many do not have one, as once again, it costs money. Hand to Hand helps with the paperwork and fees so that these children can obtain a certificate, and thus be on a better road to an education.
The slums in Thailand have a lot of chickens and a lot of trash, but there are also many smiles. Many people who live in these tenements live off of the money they make by recycling. We handed out food as well as bracelets my friend’s daughter made specifically for me to take on this trip. It’s lovely to see a kind thought travel thousands of miles and be greeted cheerfully on the receiving end. If I learned anything on this trip, it’s that kindness is a universal language.
Hand to Hand reaches out to meet basic needs: diapers, food, doctor visits…They also keep their eyes open for people like the woman pictured above. Alone, up to her ankles in flood water, she sat, immobilized because of an injury that left her leg paralyzed. Pai, who is the foundations’ president, got a team to build a new space onto the elderly woman’s family’s home. Now she has a room of her own with nice air-flow, a new roof and a curtain to close at night:
The woman whose face shines most brilliantly from that day is one who graciously accepted food and thanked us for the prayer. She was weary but hopeful. I asked if I could take her photo, and she consented. I told her how beautiful she was, and how she reminded me of my grandmother. Even though I do not know her story, she has become a part of mine.
If you’d like to help by making a donation to Hand to Hand, follow this link: Hand to Hand Foundation. (BTW: 100B is equivalent to roughly $3.50 in American dollars)
If you’d like to help but don’t have money to give, how about prayer? This link will tell you about their Prayer Sponsorship opportunities. Simply let them know you’d like to pray for a child or staff member and they will send you a photo and basic info about the person.