Connecting local responses around the world
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.]