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I wonder what goes through a father’s mind as he watches a group of strangers build him a new home. I wonder about his thoughts about his two sons, daughter and wife. I wonder how all of this change feels, and how it might be changing his thoughts of the future.
There was a wedding ceremony going on next door all day. A trailer loaded with big speakers was pounding out loud music with only a few minutes of quiet. We decided to go for a drive to a local wat (temple) for some peace and tranquility. When we returned, three of five family members were fast asleep in their temporary shelter. The collection of floorboards and old banana leaf roof pieces isn’t much by our standards, but it is definitely home to this family. They make the most of it.
I wonder what goes through the mind of the older son, Tim, as we create such positive upheaval in their lives. He’s of the age that he can work out what this all means to his life and that of the rest of his family. It’s a big deal and his little brain is processing every bit of it.
We notice new things every day, like their many systems for making things work in these impoverished conditions. The bathing area is very distinct: a large basin - big enough to fit the smallest child - if off to the side. The toilet facilities, now almost completely rebuilt, are off in the back corner of the property. A single solar panel sits nestled up in the tree branches, stragically angled toward the sun to provide electricity to run a few light bulbs.
While there is still a fair amount of garbage on the property, it is among the least unkempt of all that I’ve visited during this trip and the last. It would take a modest effort to spruce things up if they wanted to. Right now, getting their new house up is a priority.
Ben was able to give Tim a soccer ball, a gift from Bracelets for Buildings. I went out in the “backyard” to kick it around with him. He ran circles around me, despite the fact that I was wearing reasonable footwear and he was wearing none. These kids spend so much time with their feet to the ground that they have protective callouses that allow them to safely traverse the terrain. I would be a whimpering fool after a few minutes of trying to get around without shoes.
We begin to get a sense of their daily life, even after only a couple of days of being on site. Tim comes home from school just afternoon, slips off his clean white shirt, and checks in with the rest his family. After a lunch of rice, stewed fish and whatever else they have kicking around, he lays down under the shelter and sleeps. I wonder what time they rise. I wonder what time they settle down for the night. We only get to see their daytime pattern. What happens when the sun goes down is still a mystery to us.
I got a good start on a painting of one of the neighbourhood cows. By the hottest hours of the day (noon to 3 pm), I needed to put it aside. I spent the rest of my time on site capturing some photos. Here are some of my favourites.