Today, I escaped the office for an afternoon and hopped into the volunteer van on its way to our partnering organization: Hope Home. Hope Home is refuge for Thai children with disabilities. Social taboos and and an overall lack of knowledge about disabilities here in Thailand, has added to the misunderstanding and mistreatment of these wonderful children.
It’s only my second workshop with them, using art to help with their motor skills and to give them a chance to be creative little kids. As we walk into the room their excitement is palpable. Smiles spread across faces, legs begin to shake in excitement and anticipation.
My little partner’s name is Pancake. She’s my little pigtailed explorer. She is partially blind, but explores the world through sound and has the most rebelliously adventurous spirit I’ve ever known. Some days she gets a wee bit sour and refuses any help at all, even if it means running into tables and chairs, she’ll do the opposite of what you ask. She wants so terribly bad to be her own person and to do her own thing and anything less will make her scream bloody murder. But today I can tell that she is having a good day the moment I hop out of the van. Her little face is like a beam of sunshine and she wears a devilish smile. She seems to remember me and wanders my way so I can scoop her up and we weave across the floor dancing to the music and singing silly songs to ourselves. Today she even joined in with her own rendition of the 123s, which completely stole my heart.
Phil has mad skills painting with his feet. In the beginning of the workshop, he is like a mad artist attacking the canvas. All flailing limbs and happy concentration etched on his face and in his big brown eyes. Tiny Joy watches the world, inspecting everything and everyone. At the end of the workshop we always have a race; each one of us manning a wheel chair and someone else standing at the end of the lane to mark the finish line. Smiles break over faces and the excitement builds. “Ready, set, go!” Squealing tires (compliments of my sound making abilities) and the patter of bare feet on stone. Joy and I win our second race and I raise her hands in celebration and she gives me my first smile!
Not every day goes smoothly, and not everyone is in a stellar mood, but the outcome, whether it be winning a wheeled race, painting a beautiful picture, or summonsing a tiny smile, is always rewarding enough!