may your feet always be swift.

Monday, June 28th, 2010

With our friend from the states visiting, we undertook a (what we didn’t know would be so) major project to build soccer goals for the talented and fierce kids of rural Bo He village.

The men folk, B and friend, put in laborious days of metalworking in the heavy Lao humidity.
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Our Lao friends and PoP supports stopped by daily to help cleanup, paint, and serve the boys beerlao.
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Once in Bo He, the epicness of the project was far from complete. Villagers had to carry the goals down the hill, across the bridge, up through the village and to the school.
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But then, the rowdiest, far-better-than-any-world-cup-game, commenced.
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And when we left Bo He, sufficiently exhausted and Beerlaoed, a group of primary school girls, their skirts knotted up around their waists, were tied up in a raucous game, mimicking their new Lao city friends, determined to be serious ass-kicking females.

we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

DSC_0984Here’s what I love about Phayong village: Everything.

I love the food: Sweet potato soup, boiled chicken fresh off the butchering block, sardines with pumpkin, and, of course, Beer Lao. Each dish served in extreme excess by a lovely, toothless granny sporting a traditional Hmong skirt and a Billabong hoodie. Each bite savory, spicy and thick with fat.

I love the boys who, up till the age of five, habitually go pantless. Pantless and fearless. Slide down a poorly sanded wooden stick, naked? Of course. Hop on your makeshift skateboard and barrel down a hill, naked? Obviously.

I love the girls. The young Hmong women who already look and feel more mature then I’ll ever be. By age twelve, they’re cooking the meals, going to school, and raising their siblings. Their faces are rich with experience and understanding, their humanity and compassion for strangers indescribable.

Here’s how much I want to live in Phayong village: not at all.

I love my life. I chose my partner. I’m 24 and am happily childless. I travel. I live where I want. I have a job that, given all the choice in the world, I would choose 100 percent of the time.

When I do manual labor, it’s for fun (ie: four poster bed building with my very handy man).

I am educated, and there was never any question that I would be.

I have absolute and complete freedom in my future.

I’ll go back to Phayong again and again. This afternoon in fact. I’ll eat the food, play with kids, and be humbled by their kindness each time.

But each time, I will come home, thankful for my partner, my education, my life.

Thankful for my choices.

And you’re the best thing that he’s ever seen.

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

DSC_0447Noy and I excuse ourselves from dinner; it’s just after eight and people are heading to bed. The generator has been turned off, the moon is out and the fires are smoldering.

Here in Phayong Village, several hours from any main town, we live by the sun, the stars, the roosters.

This village of about 600 people sits in the middle of the mountains. An adventurous motorbike ride up a windy, uneven, and often flooded dirt road to get here. During the summer months, Phayong is cut off from any other village or town; rain falls and rivers rise, leaving them here, in this lush green pocket, alone.

As Noy and I walk the main path of the village, we hear sweet, low voices singing children to sleep, the crack and sizzle of water on flame, and the few lone roosters already starting to crow

Noy, who grew up in the city, in fascinated by life in the village. She is a part of Pencils of Promise because she deeply believes that everyone, regardless of status or location, deserves access to knowledge and opportunity. She says she can’t imagine being a woman out here, having a predetermined future of pregnancy, birth, work, repeat. Says she’s lucky for her wealth and choice.

At the top of the hill, we hear what is undeniably a teenage girl giggle. We shine our light ahead and see two girls, huddled together over a cellphone. This point, at the very peak of the village, is the only spot with phone reception.

I whisper to them, ‘saibaidee,’ and we share a quick understanding that nobody should know they are out here.

By all appearances, we share nothing, these girls and I.

But on top of this hill, huddled together, we smile, blush, and call our boyfriends to say goodnight.

lovely and amazing.

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

A look at Miss. Kua on the PoP blog, by yours truly.

education vs safety

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

Check out a blog post, by yours truly, on the PoP blog about the Champet girls’ dormitory.

visit the PoP blog here.

brush them teeth.

Friday, December 11th, 2009

While out looking at different school sites yesterday, we met these girls who had just been given new toothbrushes.

Click here to see the video…