Help Me Help Others

Hi my name is Amanda, and I love my job as a nanny here in Los Angeles, but this summer I'm going to Thailand to help the children there. And I need your help to make it happen.
Nov 29 2009

dear diary

so while looking for some pics from Thailand tonight i found a folder titled “thai diary”. i had completely forgotten that i’d written it. i remembered keeping a hand written journal of everything i did everyday in a small notebook, that was more like a list, since i hardly had any time for things like that, and i never get too detailed when handwriting things (typing is just so much faster). so i think that’s why on these few occasions when i wanted to share a bit more, or jot down some info for my own memories sake, i pulled out my laptop. it was actually really fun to read through since i honestly didn’t remember what i’d written. it hasn’t been that long, i know, you’d think i’d remember something like that. but in a way it feels like a million years ago. or like it never even happened, like i was never there, like a story i read in a book. i thoroughly loved every second of that trip. i would love to find a way to spend my life doing things just like that, volunteering and traveling all over the world.

i can’t share everything from my diaries but i’ll pick out a few chunks for you to read if you’re interested. if some paragraphs seems strange, it’s probably cause i’ve cut some personal things out. here goes…

So today is Tuesday July 14, 2009. It’s 11:00 pm in Thailand.

Today has been interesting. But mostly good. I just showered and feel fantastic, at the moment it’s not even hot in my room, which is rare. After work, around 5 I rode my bike w/ laptop in bag to the big C house. I had dinner with Hailey and Fatima. We had rice w/ chicken from the noodle cart next to the 7-11. Then we walked back to the house and hung out. I tried to get online. But no luck uploading pics, will have to do that sometime tomorrow maybe, when ever I get to a better connection.

so far, I feel great and free and amazing. I love being here and doing this, and in a way, it’s so easy and so great that I feel like I’m cheating, like it’s too easy, or I shouldn’t be having this much fun. Like It’s not hard enough, it’s not enough work.

The kids are amazing. I love them. I would take Boi home if I could, though I’m sure she has a family that just adores her. She has been following me around and sitting in my lap since I arrived, even when all of the other kids were a bit scared of me. Sugar (my translator and starfish staff who is joining me for Temple kids this week) said that they were afraid of the foreigner (me) when I first met them.

There are more than 60 kids at the school. And they are so well behaved it’s unbelievable. Today we did some singing with them, they sat in a circle and did some introduction type song, and we clapped, the teachers (there are 4) played 2 drums and a tambourine. They separated the kids into two groups in different rooms and read them a story (the story in my room was Harry the dirty dog – in Thai) they also did some follow the dots thing (practicing drawing a diagonal line) and they made necklaces with shoestrings and plastic spools (similar to thread spools) then we gave them clay, that was fun but the language barrier was tough, the kids kept requesting things of me and I couldn’t understand them, I wished so badly that I could understand them or help them, I want to teach them, and that makes it very hard.

They are absolutely beautiful. I was studying Boi’s face while she was sleeping, she is so beautiful and so fascinated with me, and I have to admit, I’m almost just as fascinated with her. After play they had lunch then slept on their blankets. One of the teachers and sugar and I lay with some of them stroking their hair or their backs to try to help them sleep. We left for lunch (with john and Fatima, we all had noodle soup), then when we got back I laid next to Boi.  As I studied her face I thought, “I wonder if I could raise her”, like if she didn’t have a family, and I if I could adopt her, “could I raise her? what would I have to do?” I totally would. I would love her just as much as any child of my own.

Watching these teachers, even though I can’t understand them, has definitely been a learning experience.

So around 10 tonight I rode my bike home and on my way home I was feeling really great and free and strong and proud of myself for what I’m doing and just where I was on my bike, listening to my ipod and riding through the streets in Thailand. I’m loving having some time alone. Will I ever find a balance to this?? significant other / alone time). i’m sad that I’m almost ½ way done with this trip, I should’ve planned for two months.

Ok.. I’m pooped. Time for bed. Night.

Today is Friday august 1st, 2009. It’s about 8 am in Thailand.

I woke up about a half hour ago and can’t get to sleep. I’m just lying in bed listening to the rain come down. I love the sound. It’s actually been raining since I woke up yesterday, seems strange for it to rain for such a long time without stopping, today is my last day in Surin. Carly and I are taking the 4:30 train to Bangkok this afternoon.

This entire trip feels very right. I’m so glad I did this. My only regret is that I didn’t plan to stay longer.

Yesterday was a hard day. i had to leave the school for the last time. It was hard saying goodbye to the kids. Especially since I know I will probably never see them again. Leaving Boi was especially hard because i know i will most likely never see her or have any way to keep in touch with her.

Recently I have learned more about her family situation. Her father is dead, her mother has HIV and she has 3 older siblings (a sister who is 10 and at least one brother in his teens, not sure about the other brother, he may be younger or also in his teens). Anyway, they are very poor, her mother works as a maid at a hotel and she also receives money from the state every month, 500 baht. The teacher at school said that Boi’s mother will probably die soon, and when I asked who will take care of the children when that happens, she said she didn’t know, that she doesn’t think that have any other relatives.

This all was very hard to hear (especially only 2 days before I am leaving). I would absolutely love to adopt Boi. I would love to show her other places in the world, and LA. I would love to teacher her and watch her grow and take care of her. To be her mother and love her with all of my heart. She is such a wonderful child. So full of life and energy and spunk. She is so happy and genuinely very funny, such a wonderful sense of humor and just gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous, her spirit just oozes out of her pores from within. If I could adopt her, I would do whatever it would take. But with the language barrier it’s really hard to have a serious conversation about it with the teacher or anyone. And then I wonder if I’m just being selfish, or if it would even be good to take her away, I have to wonder how that would scar her to be taken from her family, her mother and her siblings. And how that would make her family feel. Would they be happy for her, and want what was best for her future or would they just be heartbroken? It’s so hard to know, I just wish I had more time to figure this all out. To maybe meet her family, see her home and talk more with them or the teachers about it. Realistically I know it would take some time to take care of all of the necessary legal documents to officially adopt her to take her into the U.S. and that’s just time I don’t have. That makes it so sad to leave.

When it was time for me to leave yesterday, the teachers and apple told her I had to go and she knew it was my last day. She walked to the edge of the steps on the porch and just sat there looking down. She wouldn’t look up or say anything. She wouldn’t even acknowledge carly, apple or i. she was obviously very sad and it was totally heartbreaking.

I bought some things for her and apple was planning to take me by the school this morning so I could drop them off but it’s still raining so I don’t think that is going to happen,. I know john will be coming by at some point to clean, and I’m hoping maybe he can take me. Guess I’ll just wait and see. Suppose I should get up now and get dressed, just incase she does come by. Also.. I have lots of packing to do.

I can’t believe I’m already leaving Surin. I felt like I just got here. What an amazing place this is and experience this has been. I am so sad to go. I wonder how long this will haunt me.

Oct 03 2009

Thailand was amazing!

so i totally started writing this long detailed blog about my trip and then i had to restart firefox and it all got lost. so.. i just don’t know if i have it in me to do it all over again.

i’d like to say thanks to everyone who helped me make my dream come true. thailand was absolutely amazing. i really really loved it. the entire trip was one of the best things i’ve ever done and i will definitely be doing more trips like this in the future. and i hope to go back to thailand some day.

the thai people were great, especially the (70+) children (and 4 teachers) at the preschool i worked at. and the starfish staff were really wonderful and so helpful. i made some great friendships with some of the volunteers too, i hope to see them in the future as well.

i also visited cambodia, which was also pretty amazing. i’ve posted a lot of pics on my flickr sight ( i still have more to post, hopefully those will be up soon. please, if you have any questions about my trip, please ask me, i’d love to talk about it. i’m just finding myself totally swamped with school and work right now, that i knew if i put off this post any longer, it would never get done.

anyway, thanks again!!! and thailand is a great place, you should all go visit. we’ll see where my life takes me over the next few years, but i’m not ruling out adopting a thai child! :)

Aug 02 2009
I’ve uploaded pics from my first week in Thailand to flickr. please check them out. (via manda the girl)

I’ve uploaded pics from my first week in Thailand to flickr. please check them out. (via manda the girl)

Jul 14 2009
Apple and I :) (via manda the girl)

Apple and I :) (via manda the girl)

Jun 20 2009

going to Thailand on Vimeo (via Vimeo)

Apr 04 2009

I need to do this. And I need your help.

I will be volunteering for 4 weeks this July at a daycare in Surin, Thailand. I’ll be working in a Temple, helping the Monks there, take care of children who come from impoverished families. Volunteering abroad is something I have always wanted to do. For the past 10 years I’ve dreamed of going to Africa, or some other place just as foreign, and offering myself, my time, my talents, my skills or abilities - whatever I can, to help those who need it. I want to make a difference, no matter how small.

In the past, I’d always imagined my help would be limited to being used as an extra set of hands doing some type of manual labor, building houses or schools. And the thought of that truly excited and inspired me. But a few months ago I found the Starfish organization, and this situation in particular, really caught my interest.

The idea that I’d be working with kids immediately spoke to my heart. I’ve been a nanny for 16 years and children are such an important part of my life. Everyday I feel incredibly blessed to live where I do and to earn a living doing something I LOVE. The children I take care of are all so wonderful that it’s made me realize that I want to pursue it as a career.  To that end, I’ve recently gone back to school to get a degree in early education.  I’m hopeful that the knowledge I gain from this volunteer experience will be immense and will also look great on a resume or university/scholarship application. Please take a minute to browse around the Starfish website for more info. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I’m extremely excited about taking this journey. The more I imagine helping, teaching and playing with the children in Surin, the more I plan, the more I talk with my friends and family about it, the more it just feels so right. This has always been a part of my destiny. It will be such an amazing and life changing experience for me personally and will hopefully make a difference to the lives of a few deserving kids as well.

All together, I’m estimating this trip will cost me about 4 grand (organization fee, airfare, food, expenses, LA rent & bills for July, etc.). This is where the help from you comes in :) I simply cannot come up with all of the necessary funds myself. But a wise person once told me to never let “not having the money” stand in the way of something I need to do.  So I’m hoping that even during this rough economic time, a few of you might be able to help me help some wonderful Thai children. Anything you are able to give will help greatly; the US dollar goes a long way in Thailand!

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