His hands are sticky in mine. Every once in a while he’ll squeeze it and point at something.Or just squeeze it because he can. We shift in sync of the tractor, crawling down the Thai freeway, slowly passing people on their bikes. His toothy smile is broken and stained, from what I’m not sure. Probably something to do with the fact that he’s from some Hilltribe, or maybe Bhurma, or maybe Laos. He isn’t a person to the Thai government. They don’t recognize him or his brothers as people. All of the children in VCDF’s orphanage aren’t considered people. They don’t recognize their hands as real, they don’t recognize their smiles, laughter or tiny toes as real.
One of the boys here could barely walk when he first arrived at the orphanage. Now he runs at any chance.
How they all got here varies. They may have asked to come, shown that they want to study, or worst case scenario they were taken from the streets due to abuse, whether it be sexual or physical. Many of their parents, if they are still around, are drug addicts and demand their children to beg for the money to fund their various addictions. So VCDF provides work and rehabilitation for parents that want to change and have better futures for their children.
We visited the Bhurma and Thai border. The children scream from the other side of the fence as we hand out food. They proceed to jump over and sprint at each of us. Immediately we are embraced, we are clung to. These children yearn for touch and don't hesitate to hold our hands to hold us as if we are their shelter. Hillary, Rachel, Kevin and Heidi buy all the children shoes because their feet are cut up. One girl we encounter doesn't have underwear. Her shirt is filthy. So Sarah buys her a new outfit. This girl's mother has been sexually abused and is addicted to the home made version of speed and caffeine pills. She leaves with us for the children's home.
These children amaze me. On this whole trip I've felt numb by my surroundings, unable to engage and cry and laugh like I feel I should. And this all changes with the children's home. They run to the car screaming and laughing before we even open the doors. They climb all over us. They laugh so loud and play tricks and make you feel like a freaking million bucks. There are scars all over their arms and faces. There teeth are proof of their poverty. And yet they laugh.
They've changed my life. I leave Thailand in less than an hour but this isn't the last time I'll be here. These children deserve to be acknowledged. They deserve to be protected and more than anything they deserve the love that Christ has for them. Nothing can change that in my mind.
I ride elephants. I got to pet a tiger. These are things that have brought me incredible joy. To the point that I was trembling when I saw an elephant. But I got to hold a child who needed it. I got to give them all my attention. And that's how I'll remember Thailand.