by Ngoc, Vietnam
Along the Peace journey, there were many things, many stories to keep in mind, to write up and to share with others. It was a precious and unique time that I ever had in my life. Enjoying every minute of sharing, listening, observing, feeling and laughing in such special event, I have gained a great confidence of being a peace-builder. It seems to me that during this special journey, including in-house training and exposure trip, we were in an atmosphere of all beautiful emotions and feelings waving and vibrating so strongly and
I like the way one of resource person say about changing his heart, filled with love and forgiveness, which lead him to be in love with people outside the border and neighbour countries. I admire the Cambodian friend who works hard to support the Vietnamese community, which is suffering the hatred and prejudices. I love the way a Thai friend of mine treating me as an younger sister who needs some lessons about acceptance of differences even oppositions. I adore the gorgeous smile of my Burmese friend who shows warm friendship and openness. I felt in love with each face I saw, each eye I looked at, each smile I received during the journey. How rich I am now with knowledge, experience, love, dream and zeal obtained and built up! Let me share some of numerous impressions of mine in the Mekong peace journey from 21 to 30 March 2011.
Impression 1: Phumsaron village
Rungthong, Noi, Sai and I stayed in a house of 3 adults living together: a mother, a daughter and a son-in-law. A grand son works far away from home in another province. The host family welcomed us in very simple way, just sitting and chatting joined by some neighbours. Others group members talked freely in Thai language. Sai did all translation for me, but at that time I wished I could learn and speak Thai. I was attracted by the oldest member of the family – grandma. She kept me answering questions after questions about Vietnam. My heart was warmed up by her concern about my country and people. Grandma has a bike that she uses to commute within the commune. It was so sweet when she said to me that she rode a bike like Vietnamese people. It was what she learnt about Vietnam: there were lots of bicycles. Grandma taught me many words in Thai as I followed her to pick chilies in the morning. She smiled so big whenever I said the words correctly. Grandma always laughed when talking with others, answering a phone call and looking at my dull face while Sai, “my interpreter”, was not there.
Time was so short. It came the moment of farewell. Many villagers came to see the whole group off. I could not stand to be in front of the friendly and warmed-hearted people of Phumsaron village before departure. Jumping in the car, watching people sharing good-byes by hugging, dancing and photo taking through the glass window, I felt so moved. I miss this peaceful village, where there are still number of bankers ready for the armed conflicts coming again. I miss the flowers flying above our heads as wishes for luck from the villagers, who kindly received us, showing love to all of us, especially to the Khmer team. I miss grandma, who prepared sticky rice and fried meat for each of us, four grand-children of hers, to eat along the way. I have got a beautiful lesson about love and peace in Phumsaron.
Impression 2: The wives of the soldiers
The visit to the village, where the soldiers’ families were resettled in Preah Vihear province, gave me a heavy memory. While listening to the women, watching the little children with few clothes to wear, I was visualizing how hard these women and children were struggling to live in such poor conditions of water and food sources. The dilemma places in their choice to own a piece of land with a small beautiful house provide by the Government. In order to get this ownership their husbands should serve the military at the frontier where the conflict is on-going. I can see how the women have to endure the struggle with their physical and mental efforts. I also see how the poor, the landless people have been trapped in the hardship against their wish of enjoying normal and peaceful life. There is no peace at all: the husbands are prepared to fight in the battle, the wives are struggling to find foods, waters and waiting for five year passing. In the foggy picture of “the soldiers’ wives” village, there are children who can still receive schooling by going to an NGO-supported class, there are little smiles of the women who are able to share some of their thoughts with us, there are young trees bursting from burned and dead trees. I wish the women to remain their little hope of a better life as time goes by. For me at that visit, peace was hope!
Impression 3: Learning process
Many things and lessons have been learned in many ways. The in-house training provides knowledge, information and some skills. Each trainer/resource person also teaches us their style of leading and sharing, as well as inspires us with their enthusiasm, honesty, trust and confidence. We have learned a lot from the sharing among the participants of the journey. Learning from others’ perspective, putting on others’ shoes and, better, being in others’ heart appear very vital for us to build peace. We learn everywhere: in training room, in the village house, in the ceremony with villagers, in the car, in singing, in group working, in talking with others, and so on. I cannot forget personal stories that I fortunately heard from some friends during the journey. Those stories open my heart and mind about the beauty and power of my friends as they have overcome obstacles, sorrows and hardship to become love and peace givers and builders. Every small thing and every ordinary person is always a special source of knowledge for us to learn, even though it might take time for us to really learn. “When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?” (from the song sang by Jac).