Location: New Life Project Camp in Kanchanaburi
This morning we packed up our belongings, checked out of the hotel in Bangkok and boarded buses headed to a camp dedicated to giving a second chance to youth that is recovering from addiction or physical and sexual abuse. We were warned that the camp was strict and the accommodations weren’t as nice as we were accustomed to at the hotel so along with my excitement on the way there, I was also wary. As we pulled up to the camp, we were greeted by a small army of children and staff members carrying necklaces made of flowers. The boy who approached me first is a nine-year-old named Bear (pronounced Bay-ar). He enthusiastically placed the necklace around my neck and led me to a meeting room where we were informed of what we were going to be doing for the next three days (rice planting, English teaching, and games with the kids) and that the child who gave us our necklace would be our “buddies” while we stay here. I am shocked at how trusting and healthy these kids seem. Scars from some unknown trauma still visible on their skin they hold your hand and beg you to pick them up. I find my self wanting to know more about each of their backgrounds so that I can know how to best lessen their pain. After a lunch of rice and chicken stew, the kids were free to play amongst themselves. I used this time to play soccer with some of the children and a few other Lifeworkers. We were out of our league with the children, who outmaneuvered us at every turn but everyone was smiling by the end of the game. At the end of the day, we all gathered to watch some dances that were prepared by different groups of children in honor of our arrival at the camp. After the prepared dances were performed some of the staff members started blasting music and all of the children and lifeworks members danced and laughed together. So with everyone tired and sweaty and happy we headed back to our bunks and prepared for sleep. It has been one of the best days I have had in Thailand so far.