Well, I talked to the person from CNN today for all of 30 seconds. That was just long enough for her to tell me that she didn't know exactly what was happening with the piece anymore or where they were taking it but they were "taking it in a different direction" and wouldn't need to interview me any longer. It was such a classic showbiz phrase that I barely resisted the urge to laugh out loud.
Ah well, at least I didn't end up sounding like a total moron after all. :)
I now wish I had asked exactly what other direction they were going with it. Just because I'm curious.
Instead today I hung laundry to dry at my MIL's place. And we had our customary Shabbat meal together. This afternoon my sister's in law and I collectively convinced the Genius Husband to finally join Face Book. I think it was reading all of the banter on my Brother in law's official fan club page that finally sucked him in. Yes, my BIL has a devoted fan site, it's a long story. His fan's have decided he's the new Chuck Norris, and are placing his name in all of the old Chuck Norris jokes. Honest, it's funny if you know him.
And then the GH booked a plane ticket for Thailand next month and spent the next several hours chatting with the brother, of the aforementioned fan club, who is in Korea right now but will be meeting him there next month. They were discussing what he would need to bring in order to go on a hunting trip with a bunch of Lahu tribesman near the Burmese border for a day.
And so I might as well tell you...
We are making plans to move to Thailand at the end of this year. Two days after everything went south with my husband and his career here his brother sent an email telling us about the work that's going on in the jungle in the north. And the work that needs to be done. He had not said anything before because he knew that the GH was committed to law enforcement and would be EXTREMELY conflicted to hear about it. We've wanted to do something like this since before we were married. Our original plan was to go to Thailand within a year of our wedding. We've never wanted to stay in North America. We've always wanted to go and help people who are really in need and to be able to use what blessings we have in a way that impacts the greatest number of people possible. We had kind of given up on all that. It seemed like a dream that would never be realized. It was too hard with small children and we didn't fit with any organizations and why are we going and would it actually help anyone if we did?
Well, it seems that now is the time. We will be working primarily with the Lahu tribes as well as the Karen and Shan. Most of the people we will see are refugees form Burma. For them it's a choice between staying in Burma and being slaves of the Burmese army or killed because they are ethnic minorities or crossing into Thailand and living in refugee camps and villages.
They are subsistence farmers, they are not literate many of them and they are highly motivated to learn better sustainable agriculture techniques, English, (So they are more employable in Thailand), business, and economics. They talk of one day going back to Burma and rebuilding their country so that it is a thriving prosperous place. The reason my BIL wrote us in the first place is because a few of the village leaders collared him one day, just before he left to go to Korea, knowing that he would be returning to the US next year to complete his degree, and practically begged. "Do you know anyone who would come and help us? Please tell people about us. We need help."
This was about a week before everything changed for us here. Doors slam shut, and other doors fling wide open.
We are building a site that explains everything that we will be doing there. It should be up soon. Okay, the GH is building it, I'm kind of not at all good at messing around with code. I like to stick to words. But I will be providing content, and the GH's brother, who has the most colorful use of the English language I've ever run into will be blogging there, and I'll be correcting his egregious spelling errors. :)
I'll provide a link when it's ready.
We're calling it The Charis Project.
Oh, and about me and the kids. We're not actually moving into the jungle to live in a stick house and hunt monkeys. (Some of my family and friends have expressed concern over this.) We'll be living in Chiang Mai, at least at first, which is a modern city where lots of westerners live, close to the Burmese border. We have quite a few people that we know in Thailand and we'll be staying at first with some friends and the GH's other brother (he has 6, confused yet?) who lives in Thailand now and is married to a Karen girl. I will finally get to meet her. The kids will have cousins to play with.
Okay, I lied. I'll tell you a few more things because I'm just so excited I can't help myself.
We are going to be putting an online store into the website to sell the tribal handcrafts, which are gorgeous, especially the bags. All the money is going to go into things like paying teachers and getting clean water to the village and agriculture training and setting up seminars for people to come out and teach business and community development. We will be paying our own way in Thailand with a job teaching English at a school there.
And the last thing, the thing nearest to my heart. My brother in law met a man a few years back who used to be a member of the Shan Resistance Army. (Think the guide in Rambo 4.) They basically tried to protect themselves from the Burmese army who periodically would surround a village with heavy artillery and give them two hours to hand over all of their food, all of their pigs, and all of their women or they would open fire on everyone. This man, Chala, is now on the Thai side of the border. He took my brother in law through the jungle and showed him all of the places where he used to hide. Now he uses his knowledge to find kids in the jungle.
You may be wondering why exactly would he be wandering through the jungle along the border and looking for kids? Because they are there to find. They are usually orphans, they have been running to get away from the Burmese army. They have escaped and often witnessed the deaths of entire villages before they could get away. They head for the Thai border where they know they will be safe. Chala finds them and takes them in. He feeds them and gives them a place to sleep. Right now he has more than 40 kids. He's had to move them several times because he keeps running out of money. He does all this out of his own pocket. I get to figure out how to help him help them.
Right now he's only able to worry about keeping them alive, but there will be more to consider in the coming years. Ultimately they will need school and counseling and job training. They will need someone to help them grow up. They need someone to love them right now. In Thailand it's possible to take up to 7 children into your house to care for them before you need to start a foundation or an NGO. I want to do this with the youngest ones. It will be challenging and there are language barriers and special needs to consider. It will take time to figure out. But that will be my new project once we get there. We want to help Chala take care of these kids.
In a few weeks we'll have the site up and anyone who wants to donate toward helping Chala and those kids will be able to do so. My husband will be meeting him the last week of August and will hand deliver any thing you give to him when he gets there. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, feel free to spread the word.
Well, that's it. That's the big secret. Cat's out of the bag. Now all I hope is that this really happens so I don't have to write a really anticlimactic post 6 or 7 months from now.