'Magnificent Thailand' Part 5, Family: The Real Meaning of Being Human.

By Paul Sinclair (One World One People) 21/10/02

G'day all you champions out there, How are we all?

Welcome to my last Thailand email as we mop up the remaining happiness from that most excellent adventure.

So, my normal day here at the Aids temple, begins with me cruising through the Thai countryside, with the wind blowing through my hair, on the back of a motorbike. The Aids temple is located at the base of some tropical rainforest

A Volunteer giving a patient a Thai massage at
the Aids Temple.

jungle covered, volcanic mountains. A couple of massive white Buddhas rise out of the forest and cornfields cover the flat countryside as you approach. The day ends of course with me with an ice cold Singha beer in my hand.

At the Aids Temple, many of the women patients used to be prostitutes, while some of the men patients were former criminals. I continually got a feeling especially with the women, that many had never had the experience of someone doing something for them without wanting something in return. So, I would deliberately go out of my way to show I cared about what I was doing.

For instance, a major part of my work was giving massages. The purpose of the massages was to help give a little bit of pleasure and relief to their other wise worn out, frail bodies in their last days of life. Everybody I have ever met loves a good old head massage and that was my speciality. Everyone would say "Bangsai, Bangsai" meaning "good, good". They loved receiving them and I loved giving them.

Also, I used to love going and getting them drinks like Pepsi and ice before they could even ask me. This was especially important for my patients on what I called 'my intensive care list'. They were the ones who often slept with the whites of their eyes showing because their bodies were to weak to close their eyelids. They often couldn't lift their heads to ask for anything as they were coming close to their deaths. Of all the different situations, I felt that's when showing them you care, really makes the biggest impression. Even though they were to weak to show how they felt, I was lucky enough to be able to easily feel their reactions. As I said most were completely unused to someone caring for them and going the extra mile without wanting something in return. In other words showing them real love.

Then there were the men who I felt had criminal backgrounds. They were also blown away by this kind of behaviour. I can guarantee most of them had no idea what it was like to have someone care about them unconditionally. Their reactions, once they got their head around the experience that is, now live in my heart forever.

Many of the patients, had been completely abandoned by their families, friends and communities, so to them I became their new family member. To give you some idea of this experience of love, on my last day at the temple I said to one of the patients, a young man who could speak a little English, "Today sad, last day, I fly India." He says. "You leave? OK Paul, I understand, but understand, we all love you." I said, "I know, I can feel it; I love all of you as well!"

The hardest part about nursing poor, dying Thai people at the Aids temple is leaving. Well, looking back I wonder where I got the inner strength from to leave the place. I was so happy there, it caused a massive internal battle inside me, until I grit my teeth and said to myself, "you can come back here again, but right now you have other important stuff to do." So am I some kind of exceptional individual to feel this way in such an environment? Oh no, of course not. I am just a human being behaving as a human being. In fact, one German volunteer that I met has been coming to the Aids temple for years. He has a fulltime job in Germany, but each year for his holidays he asks his family for permission to go to the Aids temple and comes and volunteers. He loves being there.

Ok all you champions, until next time. Take care.

Click here to view images from Wat Phra Baht Nam Phu, Thailand

Other articles in the series:

Helping the Poor and Socially Disadvantaged in 'Magnificent Thailand', Part 1, 30 June 2002

Glorious Thailand, Part 2, The Splenderous Work of a Little Monk, 15 July 2002

Glorious Thailand, Part 3, Helping Monks With English Practice, 28 July 2002

Glorious Thailand, Part 4, Helping Monks Care for Aids Suffers, 14 August 2002

If you are interested in volunteering at Wat Phra Baht Nam Phu they can be contacted through:

http://www.aidstemple.th.org/ email : temple@ksc.th.com
Tel : +66(0) 749-8766-7

Any Doctors or medically trained people interested in volunteering here or helping out in other ways please click here.

A patient at Wat Phra Baht Nam Phu

One World One People, 29 August 2002
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