First Stop Hope House
I cannot stand the thought of any child going without food, shelter or the caring arms of a loving parent. But that is the reality for many children both in the US and abroad. I was more than pleased to have the chance to bring a smile or a hug to these kids. My first week in Thailand I spent working at Hope Home, an orphanage for children with severe disabilities.
Most of the children living in Hope Home, were living in poverty in remote villages from the surrounding mountain areas highlands of Thailand. They are orphaned, abandoned or neglected and have no access to an education. These young children in Thailand are at risk of being sold into prostitution or child labor. Hope Home rescues these children from this sad fate by providing them with a place that they can call home.
At Hope Home I met Joy, a 6-year old who has spent her life in a wheelchair and whose only ability to communicate is through her expressive eyes and slight movement in her tiny fists. For little ones who are limited in their physical ability, I can assist in the experience. I placed a worktable and paper across the arms of her wheelchair. Then I place her tiny hand on top of mine. Using a sponge to hold the paint, I made messy globs across the paper and watched her eyes follow every movement. By making different types of motions on the page, and paying close attention to her eyes, I soon learned that Joy liked smooth long strokes best so she could watch the colors stretch and blend across the paper.
Just because a child has limited mobility, does not preclude them from experiencing art in many forms. Hearing music and other sensory stimulation can be very exciting for them. Joy really responded to a simple tambourine made from a clean to-go box filled with bells and beads, which I used to keep a beat while I entertained her with any song I could think of! Her whole body would shake with excitement when I jingled the tambourine around her chair. We also gazed up at the sky through the tambourine at the colored beads rolling from side to side.
Toward the end of our time together we washed the children’s feet in buckets of cool water and sand mixed with beads and seashells, a very relaxing feeling. In the Thai heat, the water is a welcome respite. Since Joy seemed to like the water on her feet, I was soon sprinkling it lightly up her legs, on her arms and across her neck, which caused a her eyes to open wide in delight as she gave another little wiggle of excitement.
Weary, but satisfied, I ended my day standing under the water of the shower, with several geckos basking in the spray. Too tired to care, I moved to my cot thinking how little effort it takes to bring happiness to another person. Although this foreign place doesn’t feel like home yet, I feel very fortunate to be able to spend special moments with children like Joy who without the help of volunteers and orphanages in Chiang Mai would not have a home.
I am looking forward to the coming days with other children’s organizations and watching their eyes light up with the new discoveries within their creative capacities.
Miss International 2012