I’m Struggling

open the door

To re-acclimate. To resume life ‘as normal.’ What is normal anyway?

I’ve been told to expect this; to give it time; to spend some time alone; to journal.  Not to make your feelings public until you’ve had time.  Well, so much for that last piece.  I’m real.  Good or bad, which is why you’re able to read this right now.

I knew that visiting Thailand would be an emotional experience.  It was, and still is.  I spent only two days with the girls at COSA (Children’s Organization of Southeast Asia) and I probably even built a little wall inside because I knew I didn’t want to get attached.  Well.  They tore that wall down pretty quickly and easily!


This is Meay.  Her name shouldn’t be hard to pronounce.  It’s very similar to “May,” the month after April.  Except it’s not.  At least for me.  I must’ve tried pronouncing it at least a hundred times during my stay with her.  Every once in awhile I’d screw up and get it right.  But I had no idea how or what I’d said to be able to replicate it.  She humored me and didn’t seem to mind.

She also was the first to steal my heart.

The morning of my first day at COSA, we sat in front of a group of the younger girls (ages anywhere from 7 to 13) and commenced with introductions.  Once that was done, the girls and volunteers were paired in order that we could conduct a  photo scavenger hunt.  The idea was to teach some basic photography skills to the kids.  Since I couldn’t even pronounce Meay’s name correctly, I quickly gave up on much instruction and focused simply on having fun and trying to knock the items off our list.  She seemed to understand much of what I was saying but occasionally she would grab my list from me and run to a volunteer who could interpret what we needed.

After 30 minutes, or an hour, I don’t even know the time it took, we finished our list and Meay’s camera was full of images.  One of the photos she was supposed to take was “a selfie, while spinning in a circle.”  Did I mention that my communication with her was limited?  I did the best I could to demonstrate what she needed to do by holding my arms out and spinning in a circle.  She took a picture of me.  Not exactly a selfie, but close enough.

We gathered in the shade to wait for the other children and volunteers to finish with their lists.  While sitting there, I asked Meay to go through the pictures and show me her favorite one.

favorite photo

Geezus.  Are you kidding me?  Stop it.  I don’t want to cry in front of a bunch of kids and people I barely know before lunch is even served on our first day!

As I said, it didn’t take long for the walls I tried to build to come crumbling down.

There was so much bonding that took place in such a short amount of time.  There’s a significant backstory to the girls and to why COSA exists and what their mission is.  I want to spend some time on what I understand, and what can be done.

But I can’t do that now, not just yet.  I’m still processing.

If you’ve followed along with my trip or with my photos, do me a favor and click the link: http://cosasia.org  Take a gander at their website and familiarize yourself with what they say they’re doing.  They need some help right now.

I’m still contemplating how or what else I can do to help.  I visited.  That helps a little.  I’m home, attempting to tell their story.  That helps a little.  I’ve started my own account to contribute to their fundraiser.  That helps a little more.  Just by reading this far and becoming aware of the kids and the issues they face, that helps too.

There are a thousand worthwhile causes in the world to which we can donate our time or resources.  If you’re moved to contribute something financially?  Awesome.  I’m thankful and the girls would be forever changed.  If you aren’t in a position to help financially?  That’s ok too.  Just be aware that they face significant challenges in their lives and be thankful for what we have and that we might take for granted.  Be open to my photos; their stories.  Share this post; share my photos.

I hope to share more as I get my feet back on the ground here at home.

pink sandal

6 thoughts on “I’m Struggling

  1. Brian, I am so impressed with your open heart and adventurous spirit. I have no doubt financial help is necessary and appreciated. But the biggest impact you can make, IMO, are the human connection you made, the impact it’s having on your spirit, and your willingness to share. How cool is it that you and Meay have had such a profound experience, even with few words to communicate. How exciting to see how this ripple will continue to grow and enrich your life-and others. I’m intrigued to know how this trip is affecting Braeden…

    1. Thanks Julie. I’m also a little curious as to how Braeden has been impacted. I know it has affected him; it may be years before it’s fully evident and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it leaves a mark throughout his life.

  2. I went with the first TGL team last year to COSA and was also partnered with Maey. Wow, she has grown and looks older. It’s heartwarming to know she is still in the care of COSA and doing well. Like you, my time there was transformative for me, and I’ll be returning in December with a few friends for a photo expedition with Mikky into the hill tribes, and we’ll also be spending a couple days at the COSA campus.

  3. I, too, visited COSA with TGL last year. Your post brought back so many fond memories, so thank you for that. My first emotional moment with Gung was when she came to the scavenger hunt item “fun”. Without hesitation, she turned around and took a picture of my camera. My heart melted. She absolutely loved taking photos and her images had to be perfect. She would delete 10 or more photos before she was satisfied with her composition. Loved that girl!

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