The morning was hot and damp, but I still woke up excited. It was HOPE DAY; a day for changing lives and crafting futures.
We got into the car and drove into the jungle of Laos. It was important to get to the village before the roads were flooded due to the rain season. We were grateful that it had not rained heavily for a few days, which would allow us to cross the river on our way to the village.
Thomas was giddy at the thought of driving the car through the river. There’s not much of that in Norway! Adrian who had spent a couple of days on the back of the pick-up, was covered in the dark red sand from the dusty roads. He had showered yesterday’s ginger hair and now had his regular blond hair covered by a cap. The camera was strapped around his neck, ready to document the events we were about to witness.
The village awaited us when we arrived. Gone were the timid glances from the day before. This time, they were waiting with eager anticipation. Parents and children had lined up in front of the old school building. 15 children would be granted a place at the school, grants that were being paid for by an organization determined to partner with the future of Laos.
It was the big event of the month, and everybody had gathered to witness it, whether they had children who were going to school or not. The village chief made a brief introduction and then the leader of the organization spoke of the children. Of their inherent value. The importance of dreaming. Of investing into a better tomorrow.
The parents observed her closely as she spoke. First, with hesitant distance. Then, with gradual admiration, before finally, with ignited hope.
The children were unusually quiet, waiting with restrained enthusiasm. Almost as if they expected it all to go away if they so much as blinked. Which explained the wide-eyed stares… To some of the kids it proved to be way too much, and they hid behind the boarded windows of the old school building.
Communicating without words
Adrian approached them carefully and started playing with their tiny fingers through the cracks in the boards. Within seconds, he had a funny game going where they poked their fingers between the boards, secretly hoping that he would play with them. No words needed. Just presence. Once again, our youngest son played the part of a big brother.
To see the video: IMG_3269
The school floor was covered in goat feces, and the roof was caving in. Fixing it right now would be of little use. The building would be cleaned and somewhat put together after the rain season.
As they lined up to get their school supplies, the younger children played in the old school building. They jumped from the desks and observed the eager students to be, as they excitedly awaited their turn.
Fitted for a future
In addition to books and pencils, they needed clothes. Maybe not an entire uniform, but at least something that would make them feel like real students. A pair of pants. A shirt. Maybe a pair of shoes.
Volunteers measured their tiny waists and founds clothes in the right sizes. The parents observed from a distance how their tiny ones grew right before their eyes. There was a change. A shift in hope and expectations.
To see the video: IMG_3377
Because that’s what it takes. Knowing that someone believes in you. That they think that you’re worth investing in. Spending time with. Sacrificing for.
To have someone tell you that “I firmly believe that you are the hope for your nation”. And then realizing that they mean it.
These kids had not done anything to deserve it. Yet, they were still chosen. How powerful!
As they ran off with their bag of school supplies they hardly looked back. I loved the fact that they were looking forward, leaning into an invisible future only accessible through the transformation of mind and heart.
It’s the look of hope.