Dec 22, 2006 – Christmas in SE Asia

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Merry Christmas!!!

It was December 24th and we had completed our Christmas shopping,and Ger Tor and I were waiting in anticipation of Mr. Enomoto’s arrival.

It really was a kinda of weird day because Paw Ve, the only person that could speak some English left the dormitory for Chaing Rai. His wife Yate had just given birth , to twin girls so it needed to go and see how they were doing. The kids in the dormitory were busy with chores and getting ready for the Christmas party and we were just kinda of hanging out, watching it all.Oh, well I did laundry too,with the help of some of the girls. I think it took me about 3 hours. Hand washing your clothes is definitely more labour intensive and I promise I will never complain about doing my laundry with the ease of access to a washing maching and dryer again.

In the evening after a little service in the eating area of the dormitory, led by the kids themselves, Ger, Tor and I huddled around a little fire drinking Nescafe coffee and sweet condensed milk. I would never have believed that we would be enjoying a cup of instant coffee but at this particular moment with the condensed milk it was very warming and comforting as we thought about home and everyone gathering together around the Christmas tree and eating Christmas cookies and good food. We were all a bit homesick this night.

Christmas Day was again unusual as in Thailand Christmas Day is definitely not a big holiday and the children at the dorm all went to school and business was as usual. Because Paw Ve was in Chaing Rai with Yate and his new daughters ,we hopped on the bus to go and meet him and then go to the airport to meet the Japanese group.

It was so great to see Mr. E and all the students that he brought and I of course could not stop talking since we had a few days of limited English conversation.

After a quick lunch stop we made our way back to Hiyoko Home, where to my surprise was Nau, the Japanese fellow that we met through Mr. E when we were in Japan. He was on a two week vacation with 7 or 8 other friends and they had decided to come and stay at Hiyoko home as well. Now, Nau and his friends are very cool Japanese young adults, in my estimation and I absolutely loved joking and chatting with them in broken English.

This time Mr. E also brought about 5 or6 older Japanese women who run a NGO in Japan and raise dollars for the operational costs of the dormitory. I said to Ger , that only Mr, Enomotto can bring a group of young hippie like Japanese adults, a group of older , traditional Japanese women, a group of Japanese university students, a group of high school studnets and a Canadian family all together in one location at one time in support of one great cause. He really is a unique kinda of guy!

There was probably about 60 to 70 people sleeping at the dormitory that night.

December 26 th was the official Christmas Party and the day started with many cool games and prizes for all of the kids. I should also say that parents and family members of all the kids were invited to the festivities, so there was quite crew present. It was a warm beautiful sunny day and heaps and heaps of fun. We ate all day long , snacking on cookies and junk food, eating a Thai noodle lunch that was cooked in the hugest pots that I have ever seen by the Thai folks and then snacked on local oranges all afternoon, I think I ate about 5 or 6, and no sooner had we finished with lunch when the Japanese folks started cooking dinner, a Japanese curry dish. It was deliciously magnificent and just like at home we were stuffed to the brim!

The boys and men also enjoyed many games of volleyball and it was good to see Gerald on the court as well, although he towered above everyone else.Although he was sweating and bit out of shape for volleyball he did manage to lay down a few good spikes that scared off some of the younger athletic fellows.

After dinner most of the family members headed back home for the mountains and the kids and the Japanese students gathered for the Christmas Presentation.

The Japanese students sang some songs and asked Gerald to be their Santa Claus for one of them. I tell ya , Tor and I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. We were both crying profusely and couldn’t take any pictures of the tallest Santa Clause we had ever seen. Ger was wearing red pants that were like tights on him , the coat was a bit short and barely covered the necessary parts, and because there were no boots his size , he was a barefoot Santa Claus. Although his, Ho, Ho was pretty deep and about the best representation of a true Santa Claus. Oh, it was fun , so fun. The Thai kids also sang some songs and then there was the gift giving. Each child had prepared a gift and each gift was numbered and then in an orderly fashion they all got in a line by age (youngest to oldest) and picked a number from a hat and then got their beautifully wrapped present. After everyone received their present, they opened them fast and furiously and out spilled more snacks and treats than you will ever see in one place at a time. Every kid received some kind of snacky food which they then put in a pile in front of them for everyone to share. It was totally chaotic and totally fun and amazing to us how a group of 40 kids can have so much excitement for receiving such a simple gift and then too boot, sharing their gift with everyone else.

An amazing lesson for us Westerners!

After all the particles of food were swept up we, enjoyed about 30 minutes of music and dancing, yes indeed I did get Tor to dance just a wee bit. We even had a makeshift spotlight. One of the kids help up a flashlight and shone it around to make it feel like we were in a real dance studio.

The evening ended up with the surprise Christmas Gift. Paw Ve gathered all the kids and we made our way into the office where we presented them with two computer stations. We had so many cheers and thank yous from all the kids, as he translated to them about how this gift came to be. It was an incredible moment for Ger Tor and I and we are ever so grateful to all of you for your contributions and to be the ambassadors for this project and to to be there in person to present them with this new educational opportunity.

The Japanese were a bit confused about what was going on but with the help of Asuka, one of the Japanese university students, she translated what had happened and we received many more congratulations and praise for the project. Just so you know here is a summary of what we were able to dontate with the funds we received.

Donation Summary – Hiyoko Home

2 Computers \ Software \ Books

1 Laser Printer and extra toner

2 Computer Desks

2 Office Chairs

6 Badmintin Raquets \ Birdies

2 Soccer Balls

6 Skipping Ropes

2 Takraw balls

1 Air pump (for the soccer balls)

36 (approx) hours of computer training

10 months of bus money for Mali. She is one of the kids who has taken a strong leadership role at the dormitory and she will be graduating this year from Grade 10. Since she does not have an identification card yet, her options for finishing her highschool are limited. We hope that with these funds she will decide to further her education in an althernative way. She will be presented the money in March and it will be given to her in the form of a Leadership Award.

200 dollars (Can) to go towards a field trip for the grad students so they can see the ocean.

Donation Summary – My Library

1 Canon A710 Camera with case and 256 mb SB Card

50 dollars (Can) to go towards a photo contest

50 dollars (Can) to go towards apples for the students

A big huge thanks once again to all of you who contributed to this Christmas project.

It certainly was a memorable Christmas for our small family. One that I am sure we will never forget.

All the best to all of you in 2007!