I am time to time speaking with the main sister. She is responsible for the house. What I noticed through a few experiences in houses is that the main sisters are always persons giving a colder aspect the fist time they will be seen compared to the other sisters. I think they have a lot of pressure and responsibilities. However, when one has time to know them a little more, they are very interesting and nice persons.
With the main sister of the house of Non Gua Lam Phu I hat a few conversations about the children. She explained me how hard it was as they all young were: the sisters had to wash them, take proper clothes, feed them, take care of many aspects they do not need anymore. Today is quite okay and no more that difficult as it was.
Many children are now 12 years old and when they are 15 they will leave the house to go to a brother’s house to attend high school and maybe university. There they will not have much discipline as they have to follow at the sisters. The first generation arriving to 12 were really hard to handle. Sisters are not mothers and taking care of so many adolescent is quite hard for a noun without the proper experience. The sister explained me she was at the end of her patience and was lacking courage … Then she found several activities which made the kids easier to handle.
With the experience, the generation I am partly taking care of are extremely easy to handle. No problem to start an english or mathematics course. They will all come and stay as long as I say it is over.
Arriving to such a house one could wonder whether there is much to do as all children are nice. It looks like an easy task. However, hearing how the past was, one understands that behind this peaceful atmosphere a lot of work is hidden.
Sometimes, when getting older, the children think their medication against HIV is no more necessary. They would like to start getting rid of it. Some do it and after a few time, brain lesion will appear. Sisters take a lot of time to explain the children how important the medication and some rules to follow are. They also try to make them aware that being in such a house is a luck for them. Whether they use it or spoil it is their own choice. However I was an adolescent too and I understand such discussion might be difficult for a 13 years old child to believe.
The youngest child (I call Pepito) is extremely intelligent. During the courses he makes always something different but is fully able to follow. If I ask him to do an exercise he will provide the best answers. As I informed the sister to make sure she is aware of it she told she knows he is very intelligent. However, in the past these intelligent children got quite bad future. Somehow they left school very early and ended being bad guys. Giving him discipline is much harder than the others but sisters seem to be fully decided to make their best to give these children a real chance.
Another important point is the freedom of religion. Children come with their own religion, whatever it is and they will mostly leave the house with the same religion. The aim of the sister is not to convert anyone to Catholicism.
As we were talking about religion, the sister explained me her view: all religions lead to the same God. Hence it does not matter which religion one follows as anyway the result is the same: staying thankful to God whatever one’s believe is: Muslim, Christian, Jew, …
We decided we would make a pizza party on saturday the 20th of October. I would take care of buying all ingredients and Nino and I would prepare the pizzas with the children. The main sister advised me to go to a shop named Tesco which is quite cheap to buy all ingredients.
On the 18th, as the local bus brought me to the intercity bus station, I asked the driver whether he would go to the Tesco shop. Such shop is huge and located along big roads in the middle of nowhere. The previous day, coming back from the sisters I had seen one which I thought was not too far from the bus stop.
The driver told me he would bring me there for 40 Baht. I thought I would try my own way. I started to walk in the direction I supposed being the right one aside a very long and large road. After a while I was wondering whether I was in the right direction and started regretting not to have gone with the bus.
Then I saw 2 people talking. One of them having a motorbike. I asked them the direction. They shown me with signs I was in the right one: they could not speak english. As I wanted to continue my way, one of them proposed me (with signs) to bring me to the Tasco shop. As I asked ‘How much ?’, he replied ‘No’. I accepted and actually, there were around 5 to 7 km from the bus stop I left until the shop.
As we arrived, the shop was not yet opened and the guy gave me the impression he would have waited for me and brought me back if the shop would have been opened. As he saw that some time was still needed before the shop opens, he told me ‘I go home’. I found this so nice from him. The more I get to know people here the more I am impressed how nice they are.
The shop was huge. By chance I had written in Thai (thanks to google translator) all ingredients so that I could ask several people working in the shop. Finding ingredients in a place where all is written in Thai alphabet (less then 10% having english translation) would have been impossible without such translations.
After having found all what I needed, I asked at the information of the shop where I could get the bus to Nong Bua Lam Phu. Obviously they could not speak english. They explained me with a lot of detailed in Thai… thanks to the signs they made, I understood it would be just on the opposite of the road. I crossed the road and 5 minutes later the bus came …
As I arrived at the sister, everyone was carrying of cleaning all around the house. I decided to help. After 30 minutes we had almost finished and a child came to me asking for english lesson. As all children arrived in the teaching room we started. I try to make them speak, write and hear. However, this needs to regularly take one or 2 children separately for a few minutes … in the meantime, the other ones would obviously talk together or do other things. However, some really try to improve their level and study continuously.
On friday the 19th, I gave again an english lesson. One of the children I had not noticed so far surprised me a lot. He is 12 years old but really motivated and seems to be very talented. He understands quickly and for the exercises I give he always searches for the most complex solution. His name is Bee. He looks like somehow a mix of Thai and Indian. He laughs as well a lot. I wish he never looses these qualities of being able to laugh so much, being motivated and intelligent. The course I gave lasted quite long. A little more than one hour. I tried to go for a little more complex mathematical exercises. I notice a huge difference between the children. Some understanding immediately and others lacking a lot of self confidence. Maybe I should try to separate them in 2 groups, one having more difficult exercises and another one having more simpler ones … however I am afraid to create a kind of competition between them. What I like very much with them is that they emanate peaceful and harmony.
On saturday the 20th we started pizzas around 9AM. I had bought 3kg of flour and after having prepared the pastry we cut in small pieces onions and garlic. The sister proposed us that the children could help for any work and actually without asking many came and really tried to do their best. It was fun preparing the pizzas with them. Nino came to help me … they were shy asking her her name. It was funny but I insisted helping them as they had to use english to get a real information from an unknown person outside of the area of a course.
Sum, the cook who is a very nice woman, prepared us something to eat for midday. After this children went for a 2hours rest and we finished the pizzas around 3PM… we left at 3.30 and took the bus back to Udon Thani for the last time … next day we moved to Nong Bua Lam Phu. In the evening we ate a few pizzas and went for a milkshake and hot chocolate as a dessert. After this we looked at how people have fun in Udon Thani walking around many discos and bars located just behind our hotel.
On sunday we moved to Nong Bua Lam Phu. However before we left, we wanted to complain in a shop where Nino had bought very nice shoes infected from xylophagous insects eating big quantities of wood every day. The shop however did not care … as we could not really complain in Thai we could only leave … we took a Tuk Tuk to the bus station and left around 3PM Udon Thani. As we arrived in the new hotel we were surprised how nice it is. Still around 9 euros with a very nice and comfortable bed. We thought we would have not met any western people … we were wrong the first person we met was Sam coming from the US 🙂
We then walked around and found a laundry after searching for a long time … walking around we found many wild bananas and after a while we entered a bar where many people were sitting. It turned out to be a meeting of several people being christian. They talked to us and we understood some of them were healer. They regularly come in different places to heal people always for free. It was very interesting. As I have a pain since 1,5 year I asked whether they could do something. So far I am not sure it helped a lot but I will continue observing.
The village of Nong Bua Lam Phu is really nice, several long roads with many shops. We bought some fruits in the night market.