Spending time at Siamsin Learning Center with Chin State Refugee children today, humbled me. It inspired me, brought me joy and reminded me how precious the life of a child is. Today my five senses were touched deeply.
If you look deep enough into a persons eyes you can see their soul.
I could see the wonder and awe, fear and sadness, happiness and gratitude, inquisitiveness and focus, playfulness and cheekiness, desire and hope in the eyes of these beautiful children.
If you listen with focused attention you can hear the subtle whispers of a persons past hurts, their needs, and their desires.
I could hear their determination, willingness to learn, joys, struggles and sickness in their words, their silence, and their coughs.
If you can imagine the food that tantalizes your taste buds you can almost taste it.
I could taste the crisp apples, juicy watermelon, sweet strawberries as we talked about their favorite foods, and the lunch the nursery children were served with such love and attention.
If you gently touch another person with kindness and compassion you make a connection, and let them know they are not alone.
I connected through touch and a sweet tentative hug. I witnessed the gentle loving touch between the children.
If you can imagine the sights of poverty and disaster, you can smell the odors of decay.
Arriving at the center I took a closer look at the surroundings these children live in, the smells of garbage and mustiness.
Siamsin literally means learner or student. Siamsin Learning Center is owned and operated by James and his wife. They teach, they love, they support and they nurture almost 30 children ranging in ages from two to 15. James is a passionate man, filled and driven by his deep Christian faith. He and his wife devote their time, energy and love to running Siamsin and providing these children a safe place to be. James mentioned today that many times after school finishes the children come back to the school as he’s cleaning up. How many children do you know that go back to school after it’s finished… by choice?
James, his wife, their one teacher, the children and approximately 140,000 Burmese refugees live in Malaysia, where they are unable to work or receive education. The United Nations lists Chin State as Myanmar’s poorest state, with at least 73 percent of the estimated 500,000 population living below the poverty line, compared to a national average of 25 percent. Food shortage is a chronic problem and the low level of development and isolation means that the impact of natural disasters such as the recent flooding and landslides is severe and life threatening.
Today James asked Jenny and I why would we want to help them? We never got the chance to answer him.
For me, it’s quite simple. Because I can, because I want to, because I care.