Enote 76 – The Wonderful TrapJanuary 23, 2012
After a tedious flight involving delays, missed flights, and being rerouted through London around the world to Bangkok, instead of through Japan, we finally arrived at our "home" in Bangkok. Little did we know how affirming and delightful our first day would be. We received smiles of recognition and delight from the guest house staff, our lunch was interrupted by an old friend stopping by to affirm once again the vital importance of our work in education to the health of the refugee society we both serve. But it was during our meeting with Doug, our Trustee Representative that the event I wish to tell you about happened.
Doug was telling us about his recent trip to Piloki and Sangklaburi where he met two sisters (see right), one of which we were sending to school. Their family was so poor that except for us school was simply out-of-the question. The family was very grateful that we could help them. We were in the midst of this story when a very old friend Duncan MacArthur showed up. We talked about our first meeting sixteen years ago in Mae Sot. Since those early days with the Karen, Duncan has "settled down" to a real job with the TBBC, a Thai agency supporting the Karen people. Duncan said that when I first met him, he was on his way to Tibet, he never made it there, but he was still on his way. It was just one example of a young man whose holiday was interrupted by a visit to the Karen.
I began to think on another young couple. We first met Curt and Cathy Bradner as they were engaged in a bicycle trip around the world. They happened on the Karen and their plans too were interrupted. They stopped their trip and stayed on the border working with the Karen in refugee camps for 5 or 6 years. Now they have gone on to develop a water purification process which they manufacture in Burma, and now in Africa. Of course we too are part of that story, in our travels we found the Karen and our retirement was interrupted by them. I can remember a French nurse from the MSF, Medicin Sans Frontieres, telling us during our first stay with the Karen, that of all the people she had served in many parts of the world, the Karen people were the best. All of us, Duncan, Curt and Cathy, ourselves and others too numerous to mention, had our lives changed by our chance encounter with these wonderful people. I am reminded of an insight I gained several years ago:
People who flee their own country seeking refuge, also find refuge in the hearts and minds of those who come and serve them. Some may choose to describe this in religious language, but most do not. I doubt that any of the people I've mentioned, except ourselves, attend church, but they all have a commitment to something beyond themselves that is good. It's a comforting thought to an old man who has read too many stories of the abuse we afflict on one another.
Just thought I'd pass that along with my thanks to you for making it all possible.
Before I could send this enote to you we took our side trip to India. It was a very busy 10 days, interviewing students, visiting friends, and many meetings with committees helping high school, college, and college bound students. It was also very cold. There is no central heating in Mizoram, and windows and doors are commonly left open. Thus indoor rooms are about the same temperature as outdoor temperatures. Our second day there set a record of 40°F. That's cold! Despite that and some other difficulties, we accomplished a lot there. But I'll save all that for another time.
Instead I'll leave you with a picture we took a couple of days ago in Aizawl.
- Jan. 8: Left Hamilton at 6pm to Airport Inn Syracuse
- Jan. 9: 7am Found flight from SYR delayed.
- Jan. 9: 3pm Flight to Washington DC
- Jan. 9: 8pm Flight to London
- Jan. 9-11: London to Bangkok, arriving 5am.
- Jan. 12: Banking and Mailing chores in Bangkok, Flight to Kolkata
- Jan. 13-22: India tour
- Jan 23: Finished enote
Thank you and Best Wishes for a wonderrful New Year,