Friday, January 6, 2012

Other Side

“Why did the chicken cross the road?”
“To get to the other side.”

I used to think this was why I did all my traveling. Why go to Korea? Just to be going somewhere. But now I wonder if maybe the chicken went across that road and I went across the ocean to figure out why it was the other side.

There have been a lot of “other side” moments these past few days and if they hadn’t been quite so crazy, I would have blogged about them more. I’ll do my best to catch up, but today’s “other side of the road” moment is actually from Wednesday’s trip to the one of the local hill tribes.

Not many people are invited into the hill tribes, but HELP has a special connection with this particular village’s chief. Because hill tribe people do not live in cities, they often did not know where their daughters went when they sent them to work in the city. HELP has gotten the word out more and more and this chief is one of their informants; he contacts HELP if he knows about an at-risk girl.

We walked around meeting the oldest and youngest members of his village (there weren’t many teenagers) and seeing their homes. Hill tribe people live in traditional Thai houses—basically huts on stilts. Some huts are nicer than others, of course—some are made only of wood, some are wooden frames supporting woven gradan as the floors and walls. One house was nicer than the rest, with intricate carvings on the doors and mad entirely of heavy, lustered wood. It was by far the most beautiful thing in the village and by the smiles and jollity of the people there we gathered they were very wealthy.

Around there, the only way to become that wealthy is to send your daughter to work in the city.

People look for other options, though. Right now HELP has about forty applications to review to find out if the girls really are at risk or if their parents are angling for a better life (one less mouth to feed and a good education for at least one child). Due to financial and spatial reasons, they can only accept eight, so discernment is of utmost importance.

And to think that back home the pinnacle of discernment for me is whether or not I should buy that second jar of peanut butter. That’s why this is the other side of the road.

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