Chiangmai 31st July 2011…

Jean Louis and I join the facilitation team late for a SALT visit. Making our way through a light drizzle, we enter a huge room where we find a group of children with a man in his thirties. He is Pod who heads a non-profit organisation called ‘The volunteers for Children Foundation’. This is a care home where street children drop in for various extra-curricular activities, snag some snacks but mostly to chat up with Pod. Pod who was a street child himself relates to their lives, their experiences and the struggles they encounter in their daily life. I know how it is to crave for food when one has not had a meal for a day, says Pod. Why do you like to come here, we ask the children. The love he showers on us, the care he takes, we are so free with him, we can even exchange our secrets with him how we steal motor bikes, winks one of the kids.


Pod understands the street children and has his ways and tactics to encourage, push them towards meaningful activities. The day care was stacked with games, books, toys and even an aquarium. Children proudly showed us their drawings.


Pod says, “I work alone and at times feel lonely as I play the role of a mentor, teacher and caregiver for these children. 10,000 Baht were stolen from our centre today which I had planned to use for payment of electricity and water bill. But I need to put on a brave face in front of these children. I continue as it gives me happiness to see these children blossom. I have been able to motivate 15 children to join regular school. “


I could feel the surge of appreciation among the facilitation team for the work Pod was single handedly doing. The facilitation team had members in age group ranging from six to sixties, belonging to different countries and nationalities- Belgium, Holland, France, Italy, UK, Singapore, Hongkong, Malaysia, India, Thailand. Yet, we could relate to this situation. We had faced similar situations in our context.


I see myself in him said, Simon from Singapore, a lonely leader at the top dealing with multiple challenges. I can take back so many lessons from his leadership.


The child care centre run by my NGO in Singapore is choc-a-bloc with all kinds of goodies and games which could tempt children but few drop in. Its love and care by Pod which draws street children noted Gloria.


Notwithstanding tough times, Pod’s courage, determination and positive attitude has brought success, stated Luca.


Keeping oneself calm in a situation when there has been theft of cash from the care home shows amazing resilience, appreciated Jean Louis.  


Pod is non-judgemental, understands if the children steal and gently motivates them to stop stealing, observed an emotional Laurence.


Brigitte said, I can relate this to my for child rights back home in Holland. I am beginning to understand how children are same all over the world.


Thus, this brought home a lesson to me, a deeper insight to what we try to convey when we say we are human. When we throw off the cloak we carry around of being an expert, when our titles and jobs are immaterial, we relate as human beings, we find more common elements than differences amongst us. We all have hopes, we also have concerns for ourselves and those dear to us. This is what happened here. When the facilitation team approached their own community issues from a global perspective it could identify so many commonalities. We are all human, we are not experts. When there is no ‘’they and ‘us’, we realise we are inter-connected. We all have experience from which we can learn and we can also learn from each other’s experiences and apply in our life.


What is your experience? I often reflect on this question of being human and  I would like to hear from the readers. 


[I owe this fulfilling experience to Pod for sharing his experience, Sirinate for facilitating the SALT visit and the facilitation team members for the  post visit discussion. Thanks.]



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Comment by Zenita Nicholson on November 4, 2011 at 11:45am

Dear Rituu,

What a POWERFUL account !!! I felt I was there, I felt the gratefulness in the room, the identification of each person's account and even the emotions expressed!!  I was transported to that event!! We are indeed connected!!

What you said with regards to there being no "them and us", resonated very deeply with indeed when everything and everyone BELONG to us, we take responsibility, OWNERSHIP and we ACT. In contrast to when we feel separated or not connected...we don't do these things! 

I enjoy your postings and insights, please continue being SALTY! *_*

Peace and Love 


Comment by Naomi Singh on October 11, 2011 at 7:02pm

Dear Rituu,

I share the views that are echoed by many who commented. It is heartwarming to note that even though Pod dealt with the matter of the theft, he did so in a way that awarded the person dignity. I don't get the impression that other children were made aware of the situation.

As a mom, I feel it is very important to award dignity and respect to our children while at the same time pointing out vital life lessons on moral responsibilty and knowing the difference between right and wrong. This is what makes us human. 

Comment by Afsar Syed Mohammad on October 4, 2011 at 9:24pm

Thanks, Rituu for writing about this excellent work of Pod and highlighting the aspect of being human. It reminds me of a couplet from a famous Urdu poet:

Ghar se masjid hai bahut door chalo yon hi sahi, kisi rote hue bachche ko hansaya jaye. 

(the mosque is too far frome home, let's make a wailing child laugh instead)

Pod's work and dedication is truely inspirational.    

Comment by Gloria on October 4, 2011 at 6:44am
Thanks Rituu for the wonderful sharing. It was a very meaningful experience to see how one man, facing so much obstacles, decided to focus on the children's goodness and continue to do the good work. I shared this experience with the team I am working with and together we decided to try and follow Pod's example in dealing with children.
Comment by Jennifer Lentfer on October 3, 2011 at 9:52pm
Thanks for sharing this Rituu. Meeting and supporting inspiring people like Pod is one of the true privileges of our work.
Comment by Mimi Gerniers on October 3, 2011 at 6:46pm
Ce témoignage me touche particulièrement car nous vivons les mêmes difficultés avec les enfants de la rue à Kinshasa, les encadreurs des enfants font preuve de résilience au quotidien. J'admire comme ils "apprécient" les enfants, tiennent compte de leurs forces  Lorsqu'ils ont découvert l'équipe de RDCCompetence, ils ont compris que le SALT pouvait aider nos jeunes et eux-mêmes ils ont demandé de devenir facilitateur.
Comment by Sirinate Piyajitpirat on October 3, 2011 at 6:03pm
Thanks, Rituu. It was really a good opportunity for me to see how Pod deals with the situation by 'looking for strengths' in each of the street child he is working with.
Comment by Joao Arnaldo Vembane on October 3, 2011 at 5:42pm

Thanks Rituu for sharing such inspiring story...

Indeed I do share Pod's view that Children need is care, love, attention... so that they feel and leave like humans. In that respect I wrote some verses (in Portuguese) 15 years ago as follow:


Street child is the name the world attributes to me

In reasons they provide, I can only they are right

I shout to the world appealing, please don't call me that way

I reach to the end of hope and therefore disgrace and end of life


All I want is some one to give me hope

Some who will give love

Some one who will give life back

I only want to be of someone


So Rituu with this blog you made me feel connected to Pod and his wonderful companion.


Keep posting!

Comment by Jean-Louis Lamboray on September 27, 2011 at 3:55pm
Thank you Rituu. Once again we experienced the power of appreciation...
Comment by Marlou on September 26, 2011 at 5:23pm

Thanks Rituu! Yes, all we learned that Sunday morning!

What I brought home was the way khun Pod handled the situation of the stolen 10'000 Baht. He knew who stole the money, yet he did not show any anger or resent for this person. He tried and managed to understand the thieve. And for himself, to cope with the stress of having lost an important amount of money, Pod said he kept repeating to himself: 'This is not a real problem'. "If I would accept this as a problem I would not be able to remain calm and do my work", said Pod.  Back home, I have started to try and do the same. Still trying!


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