A Coffee Chat

_TMK2684I’m drinking an iced coffee today because it is STILL friggin’ hot over here. We seem to officially be experiencing a drought here in northern Thailand, which is almost laughable when I think back to just two years ago, when the problem was flooding. When it rains, it pours, I guess, and when it doesn’t…it really doesn’t.

If we were really meeting for coffee today, I would tell you I’m enjoying this brief break to chat with you in what is turning out to be a very busy week. My parents are returning to Thailand on Sunday (YAY!), which means I’m spending the week preparing for their return, airing out the guest bedrooms, freshening the laundry, and taking care of a variety of sundry items to hopefully help them feel welcome when they get here.

Cousins from Bangkok dropped in for an impromptu visit last night and we enjoyed a dinner of yellow curry & roti, white turmeric salad, stir-fried chayote, river fish soup, and crying tiger (grilled steak strips with a spicy dipping sauce), with coconut sticky rice & mango for dessert. I knew the restaurant was a hit when my cousins ordered seconds of the curry and crying tiger and one cousin, who normally would never take the last bite of a dish, hoarded the curry & roti to himself.

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In the meantime, now that I have a bit more energy, I’ve been using it to get caught up on news regarding Thai and ASEAN policies on human trafficking, and the various economic, development, and social factors that influence regional trends. God, that sounds so dry, doesn’t it? But I love my job, and as easy as it can be to get wrapped up in what’s going on the local level with the group of 140 kids that we’re personally involved with and their individual dramas (who is getting themselves into trouble, who is being abused, and how do we reach out to this one with an attachment disorder or that one whose parents have died of AIDS), I find it helps so much to see things in context, to understand the trends in the world around them, and to make the links between what’s happening on the local level versus the national and international levels. Governments are getting marginally savvier about combatting the trade of human beings, but as the region opens up and movement across borders becomes ever easier, it’s highly likely that the forces behind trafficking will get stronger as well.

This year has been a big year for The SOLD Project, which is celebrating its 5th anniversary. Having secured sponsorship from The Nike Foundation (and its philanthropic arm, The Girl Effect) and made alliances with large, reputable international human rights organizations, we’re enjoying attention from various news sources, and we’ve been able to expand in staff and infrastructure and may even be able to move into other communities, provided we can find the local talent we need to set up and run operations there. Our president has been meeting with other business leaders to work out visions for our 5- and 10-year plans and beyond, and she asked me, in preparation for this meeting, to help her dream big about what our expansion might look like. If I could dream really big, SOLD would one day be able to use both its on-the-ground experience and international legitimacy to encourage local government agencies to meet international standards, especially vis a vis the rights of the undocumented. ASEAN’s greatest asset, its insistence on noninterference with national sovereignty in domestic affairs, is also its greatest liability when it comes to agreeing on and enforcing regulations in issues like trafficking that operate on both domestic and international fronts. This is where I think grassroots campaigns can play the biggest role, helping to apply pressure where international bodies like ASEAN and the UN cannot.

preggo

In the meantime, tomorrow I celebrate the 20th week of my pregnancy–I’m halfway done! It is both exciting and daunting, as I can feel the baby move more often and more strongly (real fun when the baby starts punching me in the bladder) and I’m that much closer to being able to meet him or her–but also am that much closer to that fun day of labor, which I’m really actually not looking forward to because, well, pain and me aren’t friends.

Anyway, that’s what’s happening in my little pocket of the world. What’s going on in yours?

P.S. OMG, is it really May tomorrow? GAH.

 



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