Swah dee caw! (Thai for Hi!)

IMG_2977I left Chiang Mai yesterday (along with my hubbie Lorne) after a wonderful visit with Coleen.

You know, we do such good work with all our KLEO activities in Ottawa and when I see the fruits of all our efforts, I am blown away! These young Karen people whom we support are giving their all to make the most of the opportunities we provide. They work extremely hard to do their very best at school, they sparkle with sweetness and they are very grateful, having thanked me many times for helping them. It was an absolute joy to meet them.

IMG_2915 Coleen first arranged a dinner in Chiang Mai where me met some university students along with Ingi, a wonderful volunteer who is tutoring students in English. At first the Karen young ladies were very shy but so happy to see us. As the evening unfolded, they began to speak more English and eat less modestly! They made sure the leftovers were taken back for their roommate.

IMG_2959The following day we journeyed by tuk tuk, bus and truck up to the small town of Nong Tao where KLEO supports the ladies who have formed the weaving co-op. There we were treated like Heads of State with a big welcome to Karen homes, the village school and the head weaver’s house where a lunch was offered with a variety of dishes for our enjoyment. You could see the ladies secretly enjoying our pleasure as we ate the good food they provided. The variety of food (4 dishes) was a big gift for them to offer us. They certainly didn’t eat like this every day. IMG_2963

Later we visited Jen’s house and met some students who had prepared a presentation for us. Each student introduced them self in English and spoke about their goals for their future and expressed gratitude for KLEOs support. There were some nervous giggles along with their English pronunciation but Coleen patiently asked the students to repeat their words until the English pronunciation was correct. The students also sang a song (You look Beautiful in White) that they had practiced for us. I decided to sing a Canadian song for them- I chose “Land of the Silver Birch” over Justin Bieber’s “Baby”!                    IMG_2995


On our last day, we met up with Malee, Natjanan and Nittaya, getting to know these amazing young women better before joining Ingi and Coleen’s husband Bob for lunch and a walk around Chiang Mai, visiting temples and shops.    IMG_3274


I felt buoyed knowing that the young people KLEO support will go on to do good things in the world. Maybe not outwardly huge impressive things in Western standards, but they will definitely make the world a better    place for the people they help after their schooling is done. They will be teachers, nurses, lawyers, engineers, tour guides etc. They are speaking about starting enterprises like home stay businesses in their villages. Now they have opportunities for the future that previously were unimaginable. They have confidence in knowing that they are bright, intelligent and capable young people who are worthy of the chance to offer their gifts to the world. These gifts will ripple outwards and on and on…

IMG_2972     Students in Nong Tao who hope they may one day have a chance to go to Jen’s House


Thanks to Coleen (the KLEO queen!) for a wonderful visit and for her dedicated non-stop work offered with such unconditional love.