I was 19 years old and getting ready to go on a trip to Thailand to spend 16 days helping the Akha Youth Development Center (AYDC). Even now I don’t really know what prompted me to go except for wanting to visit a different country for the first time and the fact that I would be going with friends. I guess that was all the reason I needed at that point. (Selfish, I know.)Weeks prior to the trip, my team of 12 and I would have get-togethers and meetings to prepare ourselves for the journey we were about to embark on. In this time we were informed that we’d be helping kids at AYDC learn about God, learn English, and simply just have fun with them. The point? To do all that we could to instill in each child that they have a great purpose in life so that they won’t have to live a life that reflects the opposite. The kids all came from a broken home and/or one that couldn’t provide opportunity for them. AYDC is what gives the kids the opportunity to get educated. One of the other major reasons for all of this was to lend a hand in stopping prostitution. This runs rampant in Thailand and for me and my friends to go and even spend 16 days showing these kids (especially the women) that they were of importance was at least doing something rather than nothing.
To be honest, the heaviness and importance of the whole trip still didn’t hit me until I got to the center, met the kids, and spent time with them. I truly felt the importance of being there and the message that we carried. That trip sparked a hunger in me to do what I could to allow women to understand and know how incredibly special, strong, capable, and full of good and beauty they are. It’s that knowledge that fuels women to be better and to expect better instead of having to settle for lesser things in life. I now try to be intentional in the message of worth that I give to women, especially younger women or those who are in the middle of some type of struggle. This can all take place as a phone call, coffee hangout, or even as a 10 minute conversation with the girl who sits by me in class. It’s all really quite simple.