for doing what she did and getting free

Friday, August 13th, 2010

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If I had a legitimate excuse for my prolonged hiatus from this blog, it would be these two women: Lanoy (basketball star/surrogate Lao sister/PoP MVP) and Phet (architect/duck blood soup lover/PoP Rookie of the Year).

For the last month I’ve spent hours on end with these two ever-inspiring, always-entertaining, seriously kickass women. We’ve tediously translated budgets, interviewed contractors, braved the monsooned roads, hosted village wide meetings, and, of course, drank beerlao.

Our goal was very simple: build a school. Build a school and show every single villager, government worker, unconvinced observer, and ourselves that we could. Build a school and provide the kids in Houy Thong with a place to learn.

So we did. With the empowerment and help from an amazing visiting co-worker (and every person in our organization) we built a school.

And a few days ago this little school opened to some very happy people and very big party.

There were speeches (mine nervously in Lao), there was dancing (think square dancing take Lao), there was massive amounts of food (and beerlao), and there was me, with a ridiculous cotton-flower smile on my face all afternoon.

And I can say now with complete confidence that I have never been so honored, so humbled in my life as I was that day with those two great women at my side.

mama, you been on my mind.

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

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Here, many things may be lacking: Enough schools. Access to clean water. Sound medical care. Good coffee.

But, there’s an abundance of many others: Ridiculously happy children. Compassionate people. Sticky rice.

And loving mothers. Mothers who, against all forces, care for, raise and appreciate their children.

Teenage mothers. Elderly mothers. Surrogate village mothers. Mothers who spend their hours nursing, singing, dancing and playing with their children. Mothers who come home from the fields to cook and care for their children, to hold them and sing them to sleep. Mothers who pick their kids up when they fall, brush off their naked bottoms, and send them on their way.

And it’s inspiring. I know I’ll never be a Lao mother; I come from a much more privileged place in life and my children will have far more innate opportunities. But I hope that someday I, too, can be like them.

These mothers that care not just with gifts and expensive music classes. Not just with private schools and trips to the museum; with expensive foods and organic clothes. Undereducated, underpaid and underserved mothers who care just with what they have: their maternalness.

Their natural motherness to love their children, to nurture them and watch them grow. To appreciate their challenges, their triumphs and their growths.

To brush off their bottoms, to hold them close, to sing in their ears at night.