by Ushmi, Co-Director, IHF Chiang Rai
The weekend before school after a two month holiday was a very hectic one for us here at the Chiang Rai center.
Sunday was definitely not the day of rest for us. We spent almost four full hours fixing hems on uniforms. The evening found the girls running around with masked faces and creams of all sorts, covering spots and healing sun burnt skin. I came to learn about the magic of tamarind in this affair. The boys got their hair cut trim and proper – I was proud yet surprised that they returned with a simple number two haircut; smart and uniformed fit for a good school boy. After dinner a friend and I fixed a big wok of egg-fried rice for the kids’ breakfast and lights were out by 10pm.
At a quarter to 6 the next morning I awoke with Sukanya yelling alarm clock sounds, making sure everyone woke up on time. I had never, in my days at IHF, seen the kids so enthusiastic about going to school. The excitement was almost comparable to that of Christmas day. The school truck is scheduled to arrive at 7am. By half past 6 we were all sitting on the benches outside, ready and waiting. As the kids chatted and chuckled, about what they were expecting from friends and new classes I’m guessing, I sat there observing. It made me smile to see how happy they were to go back to school.
As they drove out of the center gates in the school truck I found my mind drive back to my high school days. I remember my first days back at school. I remember feeling excited to see friends but nervous about the possibility of new faces in a new class. I remember organizing everything I needed for school the night before – something that I was only ever organized for in the first couple of weeks. As I accelerated my mind back into reality I felt somewhat disappointed at how spoilt I behaved when I was that age. I wandered back to the last hour at the center, what I was most proud of our kids at IHF was how well they organized themselves and helped each other without me having to follow them around, having to remind them to take things they need for school and pushing them out of the door so they wouldn’t be late.
It is amazing at how much one can take having parents around for granted. My mother would pack lunch for me, including a bottle of water, in a bag that she left on the dining table. She even had to remind me to take my bag as I ran out of the door for school. I remember getting frustrated sometimes because she forgot to pack a fork in my bag for the potato mayonnaise salad she made fresh that morning for my lunch.
Some people have everything served on a silver plate, some people don’t. But that doesn’t mean that the latter are less fortunate – they are just living in different circumstances. What I have learnt in these past months is that the latter type of people are the happier type of people. For me, perhaps they are more fortunate.