Thursday, April 14, 2011
Music really stirs my soul and makes me feel closer to GOD. I can't count how many times a poignant song will make me cry. I felt compelled to put together this video after listening to this song because I often feel that I may be looking at the world, but not really seeing it. Do you know what I mean? I recently attended a week long workshop on HIV/AIDS in Bangkok and during the workshop there was lots of talk of how we need to reduce stigma and discrimination in the HIV/AIDS community because we are all the body of Christ and when one of us is hurting we are all hurting.
We all agreed on that and felt very strongly that we needed to love each other as Christ loved us. During the evenings of the workshop the group went on their own to find dinner on the streets of Bangkok. The area where we were had lots of beggars and I never know how to deal with beggars. Do I give to them and possibly perpetuate their continued begging or do I ignore them and pretend they don't exist? I went to my default and ignored them and tried to pretend they don't exist, because they make me feel uncomfortable. I was feeling horrible because here I am attending a workshop on HIV/AIDS to reduce stigma and discrimination and yet I am intentionally ignoring a person (part of the body of Christ) that is hurting. Which means that I am hurting, but hurting from the lack of my response to my fellow man. I feel like such a fraud sometimes. I decided to go out of my comfort zone the next night and approached a young lady sitting on the overhead walkway that I had walked past the previous three nights. I smiled brightly as I approached her and was greeted with an equally big smile and I asked her what her name is and where she is from. I learned her name is Doi and she is 25 years old and is from Cambodia. She has one child and is living on the streets. It was a little difficult to get the information because she spoke very little Thai and English. I gave her some food and a little bit of money. I felt much better after I got to talk to her and treat her like a human being. It doesn't mean I will always go out of my comfort zone, but I will certainly try harder. What is keeping you from going out of your comfort zone and reaching out to those who are in desperate need? What is GOD showing you that you are not seeing?
I've taken these photographs in the video during my time in India and here in Thailand. These are the things that GOD has shown me.
For the last 2 years CAM has been working with an amazing group of young people by helping them tell their story. These 18 kids ranging in age from 8-17 years old were trained and equipped with cameras to help document their lives and how HIV/AIDS affects them. All the kids are in some way affected by HIV/AIDS either through infection or they are caretakers of family members that are HIV infected. In reality, they have no sense of a normal childhood. They are voiceless and have been put on the margins of society due to no fault of their own. CAM wanted to be a catalyst to help these young impressionable kids process what is happening in their lives and to help them by creating a peer support group. The kids were brought together every 4-6 weeks for fellowship with kids in their own situation and it was a time to share and reflect on what is going on in their lives. During these times together the kids would edit their photos and were working on their scrapbook.
The staff at CAM became more than just people doing their job, they became like family to these young lives. They became the parents of the kids that have lost theirs due to HIV/AIDS. I have been amazed at the resiliency of some of these kids as I hear their tragic stories. Yet, despite their circumstances they are open and upbeat and have a zest for life.
The kids finally got to put together a photo exhibition of their lives and share it with the community. This was also a great chance for them to say how much the people in their lives meant to them. The turn out to see the Photo Exhibition was great and was very well received.
One by one each kid had the opportunity to show his/her exhibition board and explain what the photos represented and how the people in them were important in their lives. In between groups of 4-5 kids showing their photos was a video presentation of their work with music in the background.
I was very impressed with all the time and effort the kids put in on presenting their lives and felt I was watching lives transformed before my very eyes.