The adventure we are all about to embark upon started two years ago with a dinner conversation with Lois and invitation to go to Thailand, and then a suggestion by a friend to go to Laos and then a five year old girl asking me how many kids was 500? that turned into 6 hockey bags of clothing and donations of money from many of you - then meeting Andrew and the experience of the Laotian children that would stay in my heart and circulate in my blood...
Interrupt that with watching both of my parent's health deteriorate, surrounded by those nearing the end of their days on earth.... then a year ago sitting with my dad and watching him breathe for his final hours and then two months later witnessing my mother as she also left the earthly realm....
Then a friend sent me the video for "where the hell is Matt" and while I loved the video, it was the lyrics that resonated...
If all the days that come to pass
Are behind these walls
I’ll be left at the end of things
In a world kept small
I did not want to be at the end of my days "in a world kept small" like my father and my mother, both of whom dreamed of travel and never did much of it... I didn't want to wait until some future moment to make a difference in the lives of others.. Andrew was doing it, lots of others are doing it, why couldn't I?
and Part 2 began...
with tea one fall morning with Karen and Christy and the revealing of Christy's challenge to find a home for their philanthropy funds... I could help her with that..
about the exact same time as that conversation was occurring in Edmonton, Samantha in Calgary, was watching the video for the Deak Kum Pa Orphanage and sent me an email suggesting that her business and my business partner up and do some fundraising and then we would travel together to Laos...
the gods were whispering in everyone's ears that day and we were all listening!
Travel far from what I know
I’ll be swept away
I need to know
I can be lost and not afraid
with an email to Andrew I learned he had just sold his shares in his hotel and would now be working to improve the lives of more than 2,000 children in three orphanages... it would seem that once he made that decision, the call for help was going out to all of those who would listen..
Remember we’re lost together
Remember we’re the same
We hold the burning rhytm in our hearts
We hold the flame
and then a meeting with Elston and Christy and the idea for a SeaCan...
get Dayton on a plane out here to make a website.. GIVE A SHIRT...
and a text message to Lois - who in a heartbeat decided she was going too!
now let's make a video in front of the SeaCan
an email to Jill to let her know Kaelyn would be missing school
a reply from Jill that she wanted to be involved after running down the school hallway to infuse Kendra and Andrew with her excitement.. on board come the three Graminia teachers!
agreement from the principal of the school to allow us through the school doors again to do a clothing drive
then the donation of the SeaCan
and a friend sent me the contact for the shipping broker...
a lunch conversation with a lawyer from St. Alberta and soon her daughter's school in Morinville was on board
and a teacher in Spruce Grove who read the Parkland newsletter and the story caught her eye and she joined in
a trip to Saskatchewan to give a presentation and Grant was hooked along with Andrew Clements from Calgary.
then a donation of 500,000 Aeroplan miles from Lionel that would later convert to $5,000 cash
and then the final piece to the puzzle, and email from a friend pointing me in the direction of a Laotians in Winnipeg - one of them leaving the next day for Laos, who would end up locating a trucking company that would pick up the can from Bangkok...
Kaelyn and I hit the tour circuit, traveling to schools to give our presentation..
Tammy, a teacher at Robina Baker in Devon joined the growing momentum
and so the clothing was collected and poured into Graminia school
a truck load from Lois in Sherwood Park...
boxes and packing supplies were donated
parents from Graminia school showed up to sort and fold and pack
our audience on Facebook and Twitter grew
a truck and trailer load of clothing was brought up from Calgary and Stathmore by Andrew
Elston picked up loads from Morinville and Spruce Grove
someone responding to a call for help on Facebook picked up more boxes of clothing from Calgary
another call for help on Facebook brought donations of boxes to the school
then there was the Global TV coverage..
and article in the Devon Dispatch that would catch the eye of the manager of Tim Hortons who would later donate jersey's
and all along Samantha is working away in her business in Calgary collecting clothing and raising funds..
while Dayton updates and improves the website
and a truck and trailer load from Grant and Terry and many others in Saskatchewan would arrive...
and on it went until just the right amount of clothing and blankets arrived to exactly fill the can...
then the snow prevented the first attempt to pick up the can so we miss our first shipping date..
and finally the truck arrived and drove away with our beloved can... one of Kaelyn's classmates was heard to say "now those kids in Laos don't have to be poor anymore."
then onto the train to Vancouver
and then on board the Seattle Express to China for another delay..
and finally to arrive in Bangkok on March 11th...
where I would find out the proper documentation was not in order..
more scrambling and phone calls and couriers..
then the release of the can through Thai customs..
and tonight as I complete my packing... the whereabouts of the container remains a mystery - hoping the trucking company has sorted out the drama around the customs documents for the Laos border crossing..
and donations continue to flow in as do more sponsorships for students...
and last moment negotiations with Laos airlines to waive excess baggage fees...
while keeping the vision of us all approaching that container in four days to unlock the doors and begin to unpack and distribute the contents - in a far away land...
..we cannot possibly know how this will impact and change us - we will have our shared and individual experiences... it really is a mystery how this was grown and taken on its own life outside and inside of us all...
as Andrew recently reminded us, the top 1% of humanity has the ability to eradicate poverty...
and after our 8 days in Laos has passed....
I’ll find my way home
On the Western wind
To a place that was once my world
Back from where I’ve been
And in the morning light I’ll remember
As the sun will rise
We are all the glowing embers
Of a distant fire
We’re gonna trip the light
We’re gonna break the night
And we’ll see with new eyes
When we trip the light...
and I wonder what we all will see with our new eyes?