I just went up to Chiang Rai, Thailand to start off this project! With my mom, sister, cousin, Nat Bala, Uncle Joe and Jamorn, we did community research in Huey Sak and after 3 days, had our research “Aha!” moment and felt at such peace with the direction this work was going towards. On the second day of research, we some people from mu 19 (Village 19 or V19 as we fondly call it), there was a grace about them, a hope and vision about them that somehow also showed pain. There was a sense of belonging but also a sense of loss, a sense of pride but also a sense of hurt, but overwhelmingly, a sense that they loved their people and their village.
After being on the ground on day 2, we met with local government officials on Day 3. I expected this day to be kinda boring, we were supposed to meet the village chief and the counsel members. So we drove into mu19, brought him the foundation’s constitution and started talking to him about how we wanted to work with him and the people to understand the community and see if we could partner to create something that will build the village’s capacity. The village committee was surprisingly skeptical at what we were going to do. “What will be the benefit to our village?” The village chief looked plainly at us.
That’s when I woke up. I liked them. A lot. After 2 hours of explaining what we were here to do, how we were going to work with them and our vision for the plot of land that was donated to us, they finally eased a little. Then the head of the committee (not the village chief) said, “Well, this sounds good and even if the villagers and the committee allow you to set up, after some time if you create any harm to the village, we’ll have to kick you out.” That’s when I got really excited.
I had never seen such love for villagers from a village committee. The care and concern they had was saying No to us. Plus, they better kick us out if we were creating any harm to the people there. What a cool thing to experience and see.
That’s the power of No. I’m pumped to keep working on this with these people!