20Apr 2017

Jr. High Worries

When I was 13, I was a scrawny seventh grader with braces stressing over the biggest worries in my life: my locker, sports, my lack of ability to do my hair, and boys. My life was a happy one. I had family, community, and a safe place to live. Now I am here in Chiang Mai working at the Seed Center, an English center for migrant workers. My husband and I have been serving there for a few months now and have gotten to know the students and staff of Seed. As we spend more time with them, we’ve been asking to hear their stories. You know what I learned? My friends’ biggest worries at the age of 13 were vastly different than my own. Most of them were fleeing to Thailand due to the violence in Burma. One friend of ours had to become a farmer when they moved. She earned $2 a day and only got one day off a month. Another friend started working full-time in construction to help make money for his family. Another friend never received formal schooling, he has been working since he was old enough to help out. Another friend of ours had already been tending to the family’s water buffalos for a few years by 13 years of age. Looking back, I can see a very privileged 13-year-old complaining about homework while these friends of mine had already joined the work force and faced discrimination.

Fast forward to twenty years old. I was in college and prepping for my future. My biggest worries were: how did I play in my last volleyball game, where would I go after college, did I choose the right path? But I learned that my Shan friends here were not able to have those worries. They were being unfairly treated by their bosses, being taken advantage of because they are migrants. Hearing their stories makes me cry. It is unimaginable and it angers me of what they have gone through at such young ages. Most of our students work seven days a week, ten to twelve hours a day. After that, they are coming to night classes to learn Thai, English, and computer skills. Seed classes will help these sweet migrant workers get better jobs and maybe even provide a way to get further education. The Shan teachers of Seed are equally as inspiring. They have worked hard to get where they are today by overcoming many obstacles. They dedicate their lives to helping others that are going through similar situations.

Here I am now, on the verge of turning 29. My Western worries can still creep into my mind. But then I have to remind myself to think of my new friends and their worries. What can I do to support them, encourage them, and show them God’s love? I challenge you to do the same. What can YOU do? John 15:12: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

Mical, and her husband Tyler, joined the Partners team just four months ago. They have been teaching at the Seed Center, but will be joining Dr. Ken and Dr. Alison, who head up the Shan medical training program in April.