Time for a BIG THANK YOU!!!!!
On Nov 7th, I was blessed to take part as a Group Leader in an incredible awesome event, where people from all over the world unite as one. On the same day, we all danced to the same song, wearing the same colour. 50 Kids from the Baan Unrak Children’s Home in Sangkhlaburi Thailand danced with me for Kindness, Love, ` and Hope on the World Kindness Day in Sangkhlaburi Thailand.The purpose of World Kindness Day is to look beyond ourselves- beyond the boundaries of our country, beyond our culture, our race, our religion, and realize that we are citizens of the world and that kindness is the common thread that unites all of us.
It was an incredible journey of three month, with ups and downs, in between I wasn’t sure if we could really make it. At on point I was very frustrated, but then I made the decision that I would go out and dance no matter what. At this point I had only 5 kids being interested, so I said we will do it, even if it is only me, my daughter and 5 kid from the Home. I trusted and went for what I believed in. At the end, I had 50 wonderful kids joining, some volunteers and even a last minute dancer who joined us. The event was very powerful and brought tears to so many eyes.
How did it start?
It was end of July 2015, I was volunteering at the Baan Unrak Children’s Home with my almost four year old daughter and had just come out of hospital trying to recover from Dengue Fever.
I found LifeVest Inside and the amazing Orly Wahba on the internet. When I got in touch for other reasons, I didn’t know anything about her worldwide Dance For Kindness. But the minute I found out, I fell in love with it.
I wanted to join with the children from the Baan Unrak Home. Could I motivate the 150 kids and the Home Leader to join?
The registration for Group Leaders was already closed, but Orly agreed to still take me in and so I started my journey with LifeVestInside.
Beginnings can be tough
I prepared three month for this day and the journey was not always easy. I had stayed for only a few weeks at this big Children’s Home, were volunteers come and go. Not all children would speak english, some speak Thai, Burmese, Koren or Mon…and I didn’t speak any of these languages. Trying to motivate meant depending on a translator and with a translator it’s hard to express yourself the way you wished to.
At first it seemed many children would be interested to participate and even asked to be one of the front dancers. But almost no one showed up to the first training practice. I used to spent most of the time searching for the kids. But I didn’t like the idea to make them come….forcing someone to come to a kindness dance practice, didn’t seem to be very kind. On some days the training was very full and crowded, we had so much fun and on other days again no one showed up. It was full of ups and downs. One day I decided to go out and dance anyway, if I had 5 committed dancers I would be proud.
Ups and Downs are part of life
I believe ups and downs are part of life and there is no need to hide the downs by only showing the glory shining moments. Yes, sometimes we complain…it might not be the most advanced spiritual practise but by complaining we realize that there is a need to take some action. It is just important not to remain in this complaining valley.
I was looking for other ways to motivate and was told to give out some chocolate for the kids to come. I heard that is a common way in the Thai-school system to motivate. It didn’t feel right to me.
At a Children’s Home with many volunteers, some staying only for a short period, it is also common that volunteers would do a lot to be liked. I read some volunteer reports from other places where a volunteer talked about how much this volunteer experience at an orphanage had changed his life forever and on what big impact he had on the life of the children. I was curious to learn and found out he spent there -one- entire day!
Finding your own way
Instead I treated the kids as I treat my own daughter- with loving firmness. I accepted when someone didn’t want to dance. I did not accept when someone decided to come on one day and not at the other without letting me know. It wouldn’t be fair towards the other kids who couldn’t progress because we had to start all over again.
I took the risk not to be liked by all. We had our ups and downs and I ended up having 50 wonderful children dancing at the World Kindness Dance!!!!
A great outcome
We had some wonderful front dancers: Su, a worker at the Sewing Centre of the Home turned out to be just an incredible gifted dancer. Dream showed commitment from the very beginning and helped a lot. Momo Aye showed wonderful leadership skills, she was amazing in organizing the kids. Praipana always touched my heart with her beautiful kindness pose. Mai, Mali, Rochana, Latika, Somsii, Enpaso, Kong, Sandaso, Dokboa, Dokeau, Mimi, Phiphipho, Soleo, Monkila, Nung Mu, Paw Eh, Anipo….just to name a few. These kids took the challenge, they made the effort and they danced very proud and beautiful. They represented the country of THAILAND in an amazing way.
The outcome brought tears into so many eyes. The second time we performed at the crowded Sangkhlaburi Night Market. We started with our 4min Freeze Mob, I was sitting on the ground holding my daughter and two other kids in my arm. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and joy and had tears in my eyes.
Gathering before the Performance
Before we started our Kindness Day, we gathered and did a little ritual I use to do as “Rucksack Coach”. We circled and put out our left hand palm up. With our left side we receive, so we hold the left hand out. We then put our right hand on our heart and then on top of our neighbours left hand- we give with the right from our heart.
Standing like this we remembered why we dance…for love, peace, hope and kindness. We closed our eyes and each one remembered in silence what we’re grateful for.
Our 1st performance took place on the famous Sangkhlaburi Wooden Bridge:
The 2nd time, we performed in the middle of the busy Sangkhlaburi Night Market:
The 3rd time we performed also at the night market in front of the Baan Dada Band “Sunset”:
The 4min Freeze Mob
it was just magic. Especially the 4 min Freeze Mob. We froze in a position of kindness. It gave the audience a chance to witness and observe kindness in a special way. It was also very powerful for the ones who did it.
A hug for example…most people hug for only a very short moment, research shows that a hug that lasts 20sec has a great impact on our emotional health. We hugged for 4 entire minutes.
On some training days, I asked the kids to pick a partner and to look in each others eyes. For some kids it was quite challenging to hold on….many times it got so emotional that some eyes got wet.
The very first time we tried, the kids could not even freeze for 10 seconds. But they worked hard. The morning of our kindness dance, a few hours before our big performance I received a call from another volunteer asking if we could reduce the freeze time. They thought 4min would be too long for the kids. But I was very confident and believed in the kids…and they did amazing.
A big thank you to the kids from the Baan Unrak Children’s Home who participated on this once-in-a-lifetime event!!!
And to all the people who helped making this day super special. To Ilka who helped organizing; to Dusty, Sam, Anna and Ken who took videos and pictures and who came with me several times to the dance location to check out the light conditions; to Sadana who jumped in, in the last minute to help talking to the officials. To everyone who helped with the dance and the preparation and the organisation. Thank you for all the good wishes we received from all over the world. Thank you to Orly Wahba and LIfeVestInside for organizing such a beautiful event and for letting us be part of it!!!!!!!
Thank you for the support and the kind words we received
“I am SOO proud of all the children at Baan Unrak Children’s Home who participated in this global event to not only promote kindness, but to express themselves in a way that united them with thousands of people around the world. Annie Lulu what you’ve done for these children is truly admirable and I wish more than anything I could have been there for this event! You have showed these children acceptance, friendship, and helped them learn to find love in the world. This past weekend, Baan Unrak represented the whole country of Thailand as music filled the streets of Sangklaburi. The children posed in acts of kindness positions, increasing people’s awareness of what kindness looks like, and the kindness opportunities that surround them. Immediately after the flashmob song begins, the children unfreeze and dance for kindness. You all are amazing”
“Dancing for Peace and Kindness in the USA 2015 (for Annie) and her love of the world! You are amazing.” (Jan Dynes)