Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"I'm more of a midwife..." -Brad Berky

Yes, Brad actually said that.

Well the past couple of days have been an incredible roller coaster. I was talking with Shae as we walked over to Thai Place II, on Divisadero, about how the first two days have felt so heavy emotionally yet necessary. Today has by far been our lightest day on the emotions front. Yet we watched “The Killing Fields,” if that gives you any perspective on what we’re dealing with. “The Killing Fields” is about the massacres that happened in Cambodia after the Vietnam War. Interesting fact: they call it the American War, if that isn’t telling. It was so saddening to see how much the American government had let down this country. We’re fortunate enough to have Sarah Chhum on our trip, she’s Cambodian and her father and mother are both from Cambodia. Her father survived the killing fields (literally fields where Cambodian intelligancia were murdered because they were smart) so she had personal stories to tell. They made things very real for all of us.

We were blessed to have David Batstone come speak with us today as well. All of us are reading his book, Not for Sale, which began the whole Not for Sale campaign. He answered a lot of the questions we had about Thailand and Cambodia. Yesterday Kique Bazan with Not for Sale came to speak on his lengthy experience with human trafficking and the sex slave industry and to give us a little insight on boundaries and how to see hope in seemingly hopeless situations. This was a nice contrast to Dan Fibiger who was kindly nicknamed Eeyore. He had a much bleaker look on the whole situation… but was still very insightful on what we should expect in Cambodia.

One thing the whole group agrees on is that we are eating well. Yesterday we went to Zan Kaman, a Mediterranean restaurant. There we entertained questions like “When was your first kiss?” and “Would you rather be in a tub full of spiders or snakes?” Julia nearly spewed her babaganoush all over me when I asked. The night was definitely filled with laughter and I would go out on a limb to say one of the better nights we’ve had as a group. We then got sheesha that was honey flavored and smoked hookah. It was Laura and Kendra’s first time. They were quite funny to watch. Especially with Laura loudly proclaiming, “Whoa! I think I’m feeling the buzz!”

Tonight at Thai Place II we had another raucous night, going for an early dinner allowing us to take up the entire restaurant. We also coined the phrase WWBBD? [What would Brad Berky do?] He left his wallet back at the Urban house so quickly ran back to get it. We then quickly found out how helpless we are without him. Sarah Isander frequently said while he was gone, “Where’s Brad!?! What do we do?!! Can we have drinks or soup!?”

Yesterday I called my mother because I was at a cross roads; I didn’t know if I was really ready for this trip yet. She replied, “You know you can still back out if you want to.” I knew that wasn’t an option. She then replied, “Good because I have no idea why I said that, there’s no backing out now.” And she’s right. I guess you could say I now know too much. I’ve seen the faces, I’ve heard the cries, I’ve seen the burden. We watched a movie called “Bangkok Girl” yesterday where we became so attached to a working girl in Bangkok only to find out she had been murdered after the director of the documentary had left. Was this the reality I really wanted to enter into? Where men had a whole city as their playground? Where desires that make your blood curdle are everyday occurrences? Do I want to look in the eyes of suffering? How will I survive?! This is a reality for these women but it’s not for me. I don’t want to be that stranger (or as they say so frequently in Thai, falang) that enters into their life to tour their suffering only to leave. But I guess that’s why Brad keeps saying he wants this process to make us abolitionist.

Once again, I’m excited. Although these things weigh heavy on my heart I can’t help but think about the colors and the people and the food – OH THE FOOD! – that awaits me after a 14 hour flight. Each day I grow to love my companions for their quirkiness, bad habits and vulnerable natures. Although… they all need to learn to clean up after themselves.

But two and a third book awaits me before we land in Bangkok (only three days away!) and so does my journal. This blog is just sucking me dry!

All your prayers are appreciated and needed by this whole team.

Ciao all!

P.S. I’ll try and keep these shorter for future reading J

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