I am still learning that the journey of life and vision passes in seasons.. Sometimes the sun shines and other times it's hard to see a way through the darkness.
My most recent season has certainly consisted of more darkness than sunshine and a friend reminded me the importance of reflecting on the beginning of the vision to remember the start of the journey and why I took this path.
Last month we had the delight of having our daughter visit from university. While she was here we had a sort out (one of the things my kids dread about me entering their rooms!) and she decided to clear out some of her childhood soft toys. While she was sorting them, she was explaining to me the ones that she would never get rid of as they had significant emotional memories and attachment.
As she was pulling them out of the bag, she set aside the ones she wanted to keep and among them I saw a familiar small doll hand made out of pink wool. I asked her why she kept that doll and she explained that she wanted to keep it because the girl gave it to me for her and she always wanted to remember how a little girl who had nothing but this doll and had gone through so much wanted to give it to her. Seeing the doll took me back to an event more than 15 years ago that was a catalyst for the beginning of a vision and the work I am now doing.
The event involved both a physical and metaphorical journey that was instrumental in the immediate project work I was involved in and unknown to me at the time, planted the vision for founding Chab Dai.
The physical journey involved a few hopeful (and naive) expats and Cambodians who were disturbed by the increasing events and stories of children being traded and transited through the Cambodia/Thai border in Poipet. At the time we didn't understand that this was indeed trafficking but knew that this was something that could not be ignored and so set out to research the issues and to see if other organisations were seeing the same as us and were trying to address it.
The more than ten hour journey (which today would take about two!) on roads that had potholes the depth of a car, in an old Toyota land cruiser with very little in the way of suspension was pretty brutal to say the least! On more than one occasion did I wonder what I was doing on this journey!
During our time in Poipet I met a young girl of about five years old who had been trafficked to Bangkok with her baby brother to beg on the streets. She had been separated from her family and had no idea where they were or where her home village was. I talked to her and explained that I had a daughter her age and a son her brothers age. As we talked she showed me a doll she had made out of wool in the shelter she was in.. And as I was about to leave, she gave me the doll and asked me to give it as a gift of friendship to my daughter. I was deeply touched by her generosity and selflessness. This was my first interaction with a survivor and one I have never forgot.
I have no idea where that girl or her brother are today, which is one of the agonies of working with survivors.
However, that meeting forever changed the course of my vision and of my life journey and my hope is that in turn it has touched and changed the lives of many others.
A fellow pilgrim,