Greetings from Päivi

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Oh no, it is already four months?! Yes, that is the feeling today when I’m working my last hours here at Barnhem … for now. I will be back and I hope it’s soon because I will miss life here and, above all, those kids :)

I came here in late June with a lot of hopes and yes, some worries or maybe more queries on how to handle certain things.
What I was worried about was getting to an institution, an orphanage, as I in Sweden manage a treatment facility. What would be similar and what would differ, and how would I cope to adapt to a different culture, new / other standards and a new country.
What I soon noticed was that Barnhem is not an orphanage, well not what we would call an orphanage inSwedish. It is a home for children who for various reasons cannot live with their parents.
Barnhem is like a family, a big one with 31 children, eight Thai staff, grandmother and Sussi & Hans. And in addition us volunteers, sometimes we are three but generally four.

My time here has been absolutely fantastic and wonderful in so many ways, mainly because I got to spend four months here with these kids who are so lovely, nice, fun, cuddly, resourceful,  pesky, nagging and whiny, -yes, as children should be, simply having all their own personalities and different sides. I’ve really been lucky enough to meet, socialise and fall in love with these fine and wonderful kids that are so mature and so small at the same time, the lovely staff, and yes, this big family that I now are a part of.

The past week, I glanced back and reflected on certain things such as conflicts.
There are 31 children living here, and there have not been any conflicts, fuss yes between peers, but no conflicts between the children or with the staff where someone needs to come in and mediate (and yes, here I compare with an institution in Sweden) .
I have tried to figure outthe reason for it, several times and I have in my mind tried to psychologise it, thinking about the different cultures we are and then come to the conclusion that it is immaterial, it is what it is and it is good.
I can also say that it is liberating to not analyse “everything” but to keep up with the present, the here and now. This the kids have taught me, indirectly, as they are here and now. The first few weeks I was a little (yes just a little) frustrated that as soon as I cleaned up it became messy again when I sorted their toys in the morning, it was in disarray in the afternoon, if I left a pen or anything else, it was “off“ in the next second, but this frustrations disappeared as I finally relaxed and was more in the present.
There are 31 children playing and having a good time as well, it gets messy and there is disarray among their common toys and they are very curious which of course makes it easier for us volunteers because they want to get to know us. Here I have learned something so amazing as to relax, slow down and be in the present. Just clean up afterwards, and again and again if necessary, and in the meantime, the kids and I can enjoy and have great fun. You live and learn:)

I also had the privilege to be at Barnhem to celebrate the re-opening of the home after the refurbishment and got to meet The Happy World tour. It was a very nice day in many ways and I am so impressed by the trio who will bicycle around the world to the benefit of Barnhem.
I will give you a great Christmas gift tip – contribute to the Happy World tour! You can choose how much you want to contribute per kilometer and everything will be donated to Barnhem – www.thehappyworldtour.com.
At the end of my period at Barnhem I have, unfortunately, experienced and shared the Thai grief over their fabulous king – His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej. I as well as many Westerners grief with our Thai friends.

I have obviously taken a lot of photos and recorded videos here and I would like to share with you a video that makes me extra happy.
There is a video of one of those nights when the music flowed, the elderly playing football and the smaller playing and dancing to the music. I absolutely loved those evenings. The kids are so resourceful! Before the renovation was finished, there was no light on the lawn, but it was fixed with extension cords and construction lights. And then the speakers out and on with the Thai music.
Is it raining? No problem, it’s great fun to play barefoot and slide on the mud and just shower outdoors afterwards. When a good song is playing well then you can have a dance battle with your buddies. So much laughter and joy. This brings me back to my youth when we played football in the yard, though raised to 10.
I will definitely miss those nights and please check out Bengs dance moves, wonderful!
Many greetings and see you soon!

Päivi Leivo :)