The Moment I Was Aware of A Cruel World - My Family Travels

I tend to confuse myself and others. I am an extreme pessimist, I expect the worst. Yet I have an upbeat attitude, and have the willingness to hope for things. I think global warming will depleat the planet, and corrupt politicians will hurt others, but I have a hope that humans will do what they believe is the right thing to do, and people will stop ignoring the signs of a dying planet.

I have a belief that things will disappoint me, but I hope they don’t. It’s something I think about a lot. What has given me such contradictory mindset? And wouldn’t this mindset often lead to myself being hurt or upset in the long run? I spend nearly all my time thinking. I can pay attention to others and think at the same time, which I don’t know if that’s common, but I do it a lot. Sixteen years of thinking led me to some conclusions.

In the summer of 2014, I traveled to Thailand. In two weeks, I had visited three orphanages, Doi Saket, Ban Den, and Mae La Noi, and a refugee camp for the people of Karen origin. I had done other tourist things, such as visiting the Elephant Sanctuary of Elephant Nature Park, and visiting miscellaneous shopping centers, but the trip was focused on relief work.

It was in the camp. It was the first time I had even heard of refugee camps. I was given such a feeling, it overwhelmed my body, and it began to physically hurt me. It was the strangest feeling I’ve ever had.

The camp was upsetting for me to see, understandably. It was in a large dirt field, in the middle of a jungle, surrounded by a fence. It was also overpopulated, and the people there wore dirty clothes and had dirt on their faces. There was a church made of cement, and houses made of wooden beams, hardly standing. There was a school that I found unacceptable. But I was frustrated because it was the best the people could do.

The whole day felt like slow motion. It was my first time being exposed to severe poverty. I think I was too young to realize this was apart of the world, but simple minded enough to notice a factor most people overlook. Other people caused this, and everyone else alive was a part of the reason it wasn’t getting solved.

The scene, the seconds long scene that holds so much details in my mind, was the last moment in the camp. We were driving away. Those accompanying me and myself sat in the back of a truck, but I stood, and looked at the camp as we left.

It was hard to stand without falling, because the road was unpaved and rough. It was a very hot day, and the wind caused by driving away was so refreshing. It was loud, as tires ground against dirt and rock, and people yelled goodbye to the visitors, us.

And as I looked at the people, the Karen refugees, and their homes, an anger ensued in me. An anger I still feel.

“Why are they here?” I asked when we got out of the camp.

Gurun, our leader, frowned when he told me, “Their country doesn’t want them, and neither does Thailand. They are stuck here.”

Gurun told me hard to hear truths. He told me what their people have had to face throughout history, and what their future looks like.

Their futures seem impossible to avoid. But I have a hope that others will help them, starting with us.

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