Greetings from the other side of the world! I've only been here about 2 days, but I feel like I've been here much longer. There's a lot to process, and as Kelly warned, I'm sure it will take another several months to really unpack and unfold everything I've taken in these past few days. One thing I know--this is an experience that is not only going to impact the rest of my life, but truly is going to make a difference to this community.
Yesterday we went to the CHO center, Safe Haven, where about 120 kids attend grades 1-5. Construction went smoothly (above), thanks to our building experts Larry and Kenny, and another group helped move construction materials for two new safe houses that are going to be built in Safe Haven, which are to houses extremely at-risk families. Another group is here this week specifically to play with the children and train them in hair-cutting, which we hope will provide them with some skills to land them jobs in the future. Word on the street is they're pretty good, and a few members of our team are thinking about being guinea pigs for them before they leave! I am not among these brave volunteers.
About 2:00, two of our teammates Sheila and Victoria had the thought of buying the children ice cream, and not within 20 seconds of voicing the wish, an ice cream pulled up in front of the school and charged Sheila and Victoria a total of $13 to buy an ice cream cone for each child. We were so blessed to see their smiles! We even got permission to take pictures of this special event, though they are not to be published on the internet in any way.
I expected today to be very similar to yesterday, but boy was I wrong! Andrea, the ministry coordinator here, asked Bryan to teach "life skills" at School on the Mat, a school system set up by Hope in the Nations that CHO partners with in supplying teachers and materials. Bryan and BJ used the opportunity to teach these poor village kids about germs and hygiene, and it went so well! Plus, I got clearance to take pictures and video of children in the villages, which I had a great time with! And Mallory, we even taught them Boom Snap Clap! They loved it!
After School on the Mat we picked up a few more teammates and headed to what I thought was a lunch break followed by a few errands...and ended up being a six hour trip to Thailand! The upsides--we ate lunch at a Thailand resort, where we were able to swim for 40 baht (about $1.15), get a Coca-Cola, and where the chef happened to be serving spaghetti! The downsides? By the time we ate it was 4pm and we hadn't eaten in 10 hours, the boys had to wear speedos to swim, and our "spaghetti" turned out to be pasta with ketchup on it. Bummer.
The day was topped off with a $7 hour-long full body massage from Redemption Spa, which is a business run by CHO that gives locals the opportunity to make money in a specialized field and in a legitimate way. It was just what I needed after the long day, and I just may find a place there each evening this week!