Whenever I'm lucky enough to get a solid wifi connection here (which is
never) I find myself scrolling through Instagram and pictures from home, just to be reminded of everything my current situation
This morning helping at the daycare was anything but glamorous. It was full of runny noses and sand and mud and changing babies and forgetting again and again how to say that one Thai phrase that gets the toddlers to stop trying to scratch each others eyes out. I stopped counting my bug bites after I passed number 50, it's hotter than hell here, and the humidity makes doing my hair or makeup and expecting it to last, a total joke. I thought being a nanny meant I know things about taking care of kids and then watching these kick ass Thai women get into their routine of caring for 8+ babies over and over and over makes me realize I don't know anything compared to them. But l have surprised myself with how patient I can be even when I'm overheating and can't get away from screaming kids. I fell in love with those same screaming toddlers quicker than I thought I would. They're the exact age Jon Gabriel would've been, so how could I not??
Anyway it's now our lunch break. I take a quick nap on the tile floor and wonder how in the hell I'm going to make it even one more day, none the less 2 MORE WEEKS.
I think about how perfect my Instagram feed looks compared to my current situation, me laying on the ground in my volunteer shirt (we wear the same one everyday) that is covered in sweat and stains of who the hell knows what, with literally ants crawling up my leg, knowing I only have a couple of mins left before the chaos starts all over again.
Lunch ends and we start teaching English to the women. This is my favorite time but also more difficult than expected. I make a fool of myself as usual and we all laugh pretty hard and I'm starting to enjoy being around these women more and more. I'm the one writing out the colors and the days of the week in English, but through they're fierce loyalty to each other and to the babies and children that aren't even their own, they are the ones teaching me more than I'll ever teach them.
I realize that with their little bits of English and my tiny, tiny bits of Thai, we can have somewhat simple conversations. I find out that every single woman in this part of the day care are pregnant (even the 15 year old). I ask if they have other children. Some do, some don't. I show them pictures on my phone from my life back home. They love it. The snow is fascinating to them. I even showed them a picture of Jon Gabriel. It was fun seeing their reactions to how cute he is. That is until I mentioned he died. Of course it was uncomfortable. I knew it would be. I did it anyway.
On the way home another volunteer tells me stories of some of the kids in the daycare and the troubled homes they come from. I realize some of their behaviors do exhibit that of abuse victims. I hear about the sex trades some of the women came from and the fact that prostitution is considered normal for most women in the mid-lower class after they reach a certain age. I thought about the little 3 year old girls in the day care, so bright for their age and so curious about the world. I thought about the whole reason i'm here to begin with, as a volunteer for the women's empowerment center, Good Shepherd Sisters, and how the goal is to give women and their children a fair shot at life, a shot that would normally be taken from them.
It's all getting to be too much and i'm starting to get emotional, but I know I have to keep it together until our cab drops us off and I can go hide up in my room. Annie gets home right as the other 3 volunteers and I pull up. She tells me about her experience at the orphanage. Babies tied up inside their cribs everyday. Today they were screaming all at once, basically begging to be held, but for whatever reason, they wouldn't let them out. Some of them are as old as 5. They should be in kindergarten, not tied inside a crib day in and day out.
These orphans only get let out and handed to the volunteers for only a couple of hours some days, which means they stay in their cribs for 22 hours straight after that. A lot of them have been labeled as autistic, (as if you can decide that at such a young age) and therefore will never be allowed to be adopted. There seems to be no end to the horror stories that can be told in one day. But then there's also the good stories. The ones about the workers that go above and beyond their duty everyday to help the children at the orphanage, and the nuns at the women's empowerment center that are providing a better future to hundreds of women and children every single day. The stories about the women and children dedicated to helping each other. There's hope. There always is.
I finally walk up 3 stories to get to my room, I lay on the bed, crank the AC, and open up my Instagram feed again. Somehow, it's lost its appeal.
This post isn't some commitment to a social media fast, or a call to be more "real" or whatever. I love the creativity that comes with logging your life through photos and experiences and whatever. I just think it's important to recognize that there are
words that pictures DON'T tell.
Now onto tomorrow. Thanks for reading.