by Yuxuan Z., Work-Study, IHF Chiang Rai
This week is fairly rainy. It usually starts at the middle of the night and doesn’t stop till dusk. There is more cleaning-up work needed to be done after the rain –sweeping the yard (although humidity made it harder), mopping floors, cleaning the kitchen and feeding chickens… Tedious as it is, I find it much more enjoyable working with others present, whether they are kids playing around, colleagues working with you or simply standing by and talking… Therefore, I usually stop by to ask whether I can help when seeing my colleagues at work. That’s what volunteering and humanity is all about –the feeling of being accompanied and supported can always light up dismal days.
Children are still going to school every day, no matter how heavy the rain is. Our kids are doing well in their schoolwork, and our younger kids usually turn to the older ones when they need help. I was surprised to see that one day two of the elder girls came to me asking questions about their Chinese coursework. I’m glad that I can help them to learn another language, but I’m even more astonished at their multi-language skills –Thai, English, Chinese, plus their tribal language (Lahu)!
They enjoy every cool and peaceful evening when one elder boy usually plays beautiful pieces of guitar music. At the weekend, the children also play records and sing songs. They also usually cook on the weekend for themselves without the volunteers’ help. Even the youngest girl, at the age of 10, could cook by herself. She can barely reach the pot and stove! She also likes to play with my electronic devices, specially after she learned how to edit her own pictures on Photoshop.
I used to think that this month in the IHF Center might be hard for me, but after these two weeks, it turns out that it’s more heart-warming and encouraging than tiresome. Admittedly, we volunteers have been going through lots of challenges both physically and mentally –weeding the garden in the hot sun, picking up the kids from school in a gloomy weather, and sleeping at night with dogs barking and mosquitoes humming. It might be hard to imagine for those raised up in cities and fed by their parents. However, it is the very contrast of living conditions and the fact that the kids are so independent and cheerful that teaches me that it’s the optimism and hard work, rather than physical satisfaction, that brings us real and long-lasting happiness.