To continue my 2015 memories as I interned with Coleen:
Ban Rai Dormitory, Mae Sarieng: “We don’t have any books.” This group of students has time but few productive ways to fill it. They have little homework because sometimes the teachers at their government school don’t show up. They sing in the choir and love music but have no instruments or teachers, sports equipment, or books. I asked what they would like to do in their free time and the girls said, “We would like books, you know, about accounting, computers, business. Work. And English.” They are restless teens and preteens living in a village that is threatened by an all-too-thriving drug trade, and all the seedy, dangerous “opportunities” that come with it. Coleen and I brought back some volleyballs, footballs, and badminton gear. I spent an afternoon playing with the students. They were so happy and that night a little more open and relaxed to chat, and try out their English with me. This dorm has come a long was in the year that KLEO took over support and began to care for these largely unsupervised young adults. This is an ideal placement for a long-term volunteer English teacher!
Nong Tao Village: “Ohhh!” The exclamations of the women who form the Ladies of Nong Tao weaving co-op. Coleen has just showed them the calculations of how much they have earned and saved for their children’s education since the co-op began. To see the value of their efforts and the future potential for their children’s education brought smiles. And as KLEO steps out of the middle, the women are proud to take over the control and responsibility of their education funds, and to maintain an almost self-sustaining business. The amount of work (days!) that goes into each hand-woven piece is significant, and the designs and colors are beautiful. Learn and see more here (http://www.kleosupportgroup.org/ladiesofnongtao-2/ ) or to order your own, send us an email! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
On The Road, Chiang Mai: “Banana fana fo fana, mi my mo mana, BANANA!” Heard from the back of my motorbike as I drove Coleen to Jen’s House one day. Funny enough in itself, but this burst of musical comic relief came just after we had escaped from a police checkpoint (driving my borrowed unregistered bike) and took refuge at a roadside banana stand. We munched our unexpected breakfast, uttering curses at certain badge-toting officers, and waited for them to give up and go on lunch break. A silly story that perfectly shows Coleen’s spirit. She bursts out with a song for every situation. Just another way that she brings joy and connection to so many people out of the toughest situations. “You are my sunshine.”