by Ushmi, Co-Director, IHF Chiang Rai
Humans have a deep-rooted connection regardless of race. I realized about it here in Chiang Rai. I have always been in a situation where I can understand, and lucky enough, speak the language. Thailand has shown me otherwise.
This week the children had to write letters to their sponsors. We were sitting around a table in the verandah discussing the events of the past few weeks that they could share with their sponsors, and I couldn’t remember the last time I laughed so hard. We had a mixture of Spanish; British and Thai accents trying to formulate sentences and not forgetting Google translate to make sense of it all.
The children went back to their rooms to re-write their letters and decorate them. I read the final pieces before sending them and it was beautiful. The detail and emotion was so special and the pictures and colors around the paper was that extra time the children took… because they care, they love and they are thankful. Their English is so basic yet their feelings were expressed so strongly.
We ended the evening with Kentucky Fried Chicken treats as a thank you for their work and for helping with the family chores. It was like a family from different parts of the world, loving each other regardless of race. Like a human connection.
The next day we, the co-directors, had to do the big shop for the home- to buy necessities including soap, toothpaste and bags of rice and noodles. The super store is about a 20-minute drive from the IHF center, traffic forbid. Coming back proved difficult as it was a Saturday, the peak time for running errands, and calling a taxi was almost impossible. I stood at the highway hoping to be able to hail a taxi down but of course that was a situation only possible if you had ten hours to spare. So I decided to brave it and ‘speak’ to locals that owned a mobile furniture store alongside the highway. It turned out we were both fluent in gestures and managed to hitch a ride to the center with them: Communication without communicating.
The Thai are, without a doubt, the friendliest and caring people I have ever met.
You have to find the inner human in you to communicate, and that is what the Thai have teach me. Chichi, the youngest at our Chiang Rai center, stands with a stick pointing at the Thai alphabet printed on the whiteboard, and has the patience to make sure we pronounce the letters and words as should be pronounced in Thai… but at the end of the day it is politeness and respect, the inner communication, that will take you where you need to go.