Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Work, the Greatest Healer

I have come to find that I am addicted to the work here in Thailand. With so much to do and so little time left (less than a month!) I am seriously worried that I will not be able to leave all there is to do behind. I am already getting anxious about the amount of work there is left to do, as I imagine all of us leaving with no one to fill in for us once we are gone. It is with sadness that I admit there is more to do here than will ever get done, even if I and the entire team dedicate our life's work to this place and its people. 
But it is with great joy that I think about all that we have done, and will still do for the children that we love so dearly. Work here has been going amazing, and it never fails that I wake up excited every day to go out and, as I like to say, do the good work. 

As per usual, I have been dedicating 100% of my time to DEPDC. Our projects there have been getting on brilliantly. Our kindergarten/level one class has gained a sense of organization and cohesiveness that I never thought possible! We had the opportunity and good fortune of being given a newly finished classroom, especially helpful because we didn't have a classroom at all before. The classroom is so beautiful and I love the order it brings to our classes to have actual desks. Thanks so much to ISV (another group of volunteers) for the classroom!

Not pictured in the classroom is a very beautiful star chart put together by me and other HELP volunteers. The purpose of the star chart is simple. We needed a kind of discipline system as some of the students have behavioral issues. Since we don't want to put any of them out of the classroom as punishment (these are kids without any chance at education before) we decided a card system would work best. They get a yellow card for first warning, and a red card for the second warning. If they have a red card at the end of the day, they do not get a star sticker. Each child needs three stickers to get a prize. So far the kids love it, even most of the older ones. 

This is our classroom before. See the difference? Keep in mind this is when class just ended. 

I cannot get over how amazing these kids are. I recently had the opportunity to visit Burma, and see the country where most of these kids come from, and where many currently live. While there Jamie, Jordan and I had the good fortune to see two of the kids from DEPDC there, and were invited to one of their homes. These kids come from such humble backgrounds, and yet have more of a spirit and motivation than most privileged kids. 

Some of the boys from our class, taking a break from cleaning the grounds. Yes, these kids have to help out around DEPDC. They are taught from an early age how important hard work is to get along in life.

While in Burma we also had the opportunity of visiting a Shan school (one of he ethnic minorities in Burma). Because the Shan are originally from the Yunnan Province in China, school for them is taught in Mandarin. Crazy, right? It never ceases to amaze me how many different types of people can live in one area of the world. While at the school, many of the kids followed us everywhere (as shown in the picture). I felt bad since they were supposed to be in class. We learned while visiting that the school was one of the "good" ones in Burma and was privately funded. 

This varied from the public schools in Burma, which are lacking in skilled teachers, money, and just about anything a school would need to function properly. This is why most of our kids at DEPDC are Burmese. The education system in Burma is virtually non-existent, with teachers so underpaid that they force public students to pay bribes for them to come to class. Those who can't afford the bribes are not allowed back in the classroom. The government does nothing, as they (and the military) are the only ones making a decent living in Burma, and are, for most, the root and source of the problems and corruption in the education system and others in the country.    

Here are some of the children of Burma. I had made it a new goal in life to one day adopt a Burmese child. I cannot get enough of these kids! Aren't they so adorable?

Our other big project at DEPDC was making a basketball court for the campus. This involved a lot of painting and taping to make sure we get the lines exactly right. Jason was so great for coming up with this project! I am pictures below with one of our kids, helping me paint some of the lines. The kids were so amazed they stood around watching the entire process unfold. And they are so cute, we couldn't resist  letting them help paint!

Above are the kids taking advantage of the court with Jason when it was finished. And yes, they are playing basketball with a soccer ball. 

The video projects are also coming along really well. Lauren is a saint for getting control of these and making sure we stay on schedule for getting the videos completed by the beginning of August. These videos have been both a joy and a struggle to work on, as we have to put SO many hours intofilming, taking photos, editing, and gathering data to use in the making of these 2 simple projects. But I finally see it starting to pay off, as we are beginning to see an end in sight. Once I get the go ahead and they have been approved, I will post a link of facebook and my blog for everyone to see! Before than, please, please, please like "DEPDC" on facebook. It takes literally 5 seconds. It's the simple things that help, right?

Lauren and I with 3 of the girls in our class. I love this girl! 

I will end with a picture of Jamie and I on the 4th of July, with one of the twins that lives next to us. Until next time...

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