- the way Sen grabs hold of me and giggles and laughs when I kiss her neck
- The way the toddlers take the few toys I brought to the babies cos they can hear them crying and try to appease them through the playpen pickets.
- The babies whose personality I can see already.... Duc, around 15 months, who once let loose, although can't walk steady yet as he is confined to the cot, goes as fast as he can out the door, hitting every child over the head in his path...
- The toddlers who haven't learnt how to self regulate yet and tantrum when someone takes their toy or when life just gets tooooo much...
- The older girls who look after the babies and how each one has formed a bond with a different one and take responsibility for them when they cry.
- The newborn who is not learning trust as she is left to cry till she shakes..... The babies who have no sense of security or attachment due to the inconsistency in care-giving responses. And it's not the carer's fault... a lot has to do with ratios, no time to do everything and then education - the importance of early child hood seems to be non existent here.
- their pure unobliterated bliss when I go pick them up from school and they see me down the dirt road
- The pride the Peace Village carers feel for their kids and when I ask to take them out there is a flurry of activity to find their best outfits amidst the torn rags.
- Getting splashed in the face from trucks as they speed by and me laughing hysterically on the back of the bike covered in muddy water.
- The older boys who are so bored that they play with baby toys when I bring them out and monopolise them... And I get frustrated that they taking them away from the younger children but when I stop and think about it for a moment, my frustrations melt as I realise that they have to resort to baby toys to stimulate them to just have something to do.
- Carers who congratulate me when I tell them I have a boyfriend and they wish me well and tell me that I should bring him here and get married here with all my children present....
- the way the less disabled help out the more disabled at Peace Village and take care of each other.
- the way the girls have kept photos of them and I safe in an album and show me that they haven't forgotten about our friendship and love...
- the fact that I don't get offended anymore when locals tell me I'm fat and brown and so ugly!
I recently heard a TED Talk by Joan Halifax on the subject of compassion that got me thinking:
She believes compassion is there within every human being. But the conditions for compassion to be activated, to be aroused, are particular conditions.
So we can ask: What is compassion comprised of? Compassion is comprised of that capacity to see clearly into the nature of suffering. It is that ability to really stand strong and to recognize also that I'm not separate from this suffering. But that is not enough, because compassion, which activates the motor cortex, means that we aspire, we actually aspire to transform suffering. And if we're so blessed, we engage in activities that transform suffering.
Phuong, a girl who we support to stay in school wrote me another letter this trip. She says that she prays every night that the other poor students in her village can have someone show them compassion too and support them to go to school just like I do for her. She goes on to write that if every person who was lucky in this life could help someone who was not so lucky, then the world would be a better place.
What is fascinating is that compassion has enemies, and those enemies are things like pity, moral outrage, fear. And you know, we have a society, a world, that is paralyzed by fear. And in that paralysis, of course, our capacity for compassion is also paralyzed.
So I shall leave you a list of where donations where spent this trip along with Phuong's prayer, which resonates with the below quote too...
"Do your little bit of good where you are, it's those bits of good put together that overwhelm the world" - Archbishop Desmond Tutu