The greatest thing about my business is the opportunities and freedom that it affords me to be able to contribute to the world and make a difference for someone somewhere.
I arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand yesterday to spend a few weeks working for Habitat for Humanity to help build a home for a family in need. That’s the good news. However, my luggage wasn’t as fortunate. But that really doesn’t bother me this morning because, as I write this, the sun is just cresting over the horizon and the viewable portion of the city that I’ll live in for the next couple weeks is coming into view. A quiet calm blankets Chiang Mai before the heat, scents and noises which surely return once the city awakens. I arrived at night and was quickly a part of the crowded symphony of cars, motorcycles, bikes, people and tuc-tucs mixed into the massive street-market where shoppers buy everything from fine silk, jewelry, raw fish, spices, and almost everything in between.
The thought of spending a full day in yesterday’s clothes doesn’t even bother me however because I can’t stop thinking about the Habitat for Humanity build I’m about to take part in. The anticipation of meeting the family that will benefit from our efforts and the difference this hand up will make in their lives has the best of me today. I feel lucky to just have the opportunity to do this. I know it’s a small part but it’s something, right? Aren’t we so lucky to be able to help?
I can’t help but try to prepare myself emotionally for the days to come. I remember the puddle that I turned into in Jakarta while with World Vision. I was simply ill-equipped to deal with the experience of meeting some of the poorest of the poor. So, while I sit in the relative comfort of my air cooled room and type, I’m thinking of those who changed me and not those that I changed.
That’s what I’ve found to be most interesting about doing these types of trips. I first thought of it as an opportunity to make some positive changes in the lives of others but I was quickly defeated by the enormity of the scope of poverty. Thankfully, I was able to recognize the benefit and I think the biggest change is the one that takes place in myself.
To say that some have nothing is an understatement. The poor that we know in our culture is on a scale of wealth – almost anyone in our culture can find safe to eat and clean water to drink. That’s not the reality for so many in countries where the struggle to hang onto life itself is the challenge.
What’s worse is the abuse the poor take, the price they pay, and who are taken advantage of by those who have slightly higher education or more means. The poor in Jakarta were marginally better off than the cats, dogs, rats and cockroaches who competed for the portions of food available in the trash of the better off and that food had already been picked over by others higher up on the poor ladder. People are starving and dying from illnesses that I learned to ignore because we were given immunity shots in school.
I’m hopeful that this trip brings about the lasting changes in myself that empowers me to better communicate and hopefully motivate others to appreciate all that we have and take for granted. I pray that my efforts here will make a difference somehow to someone other than myself because I’m pretty sure that improvement is already guaranteed.