The Value of Stopping

Time to Stop

Even those with the most important jobs find it is imperative to stop and care for themselves.  Perhaps those WITH the most important jobs should be stopping and taking care of themselves more often. 

Over the last couple of days I have watched as Mae Thiew has sat on the rear verandah at our country property and started into the vista that lays beyond.  She has taken time to draw, to photograph and document the many bird varieties that inhabit the native gums and introduced fruit trees.  She has drawn the sandstone escarpment that forms part of the widest canyon in world and often seeks clarification or interpretation of the translation that will allow her to recount the stories for the kids when she returns home to Thailand. 

Mae Thiew is the director and founder of the wonderful home in Thailand for the often forgotten or ignored children many of whom have HIV.  She built Baan Home Hug from the ground up starting over 30 years ago and has borne witness to stories which if I didn’t know better or I hadn’t witnessed firsthand, I would question the veracity of such. 

Spending time with her over the last week I have learnt of struggles that I didn’t understand she faced.  New ones.  Ones that once again are not fair. 

I’ve learnt that despite six years at university, studying first a bachelor's degree and then a master's degree that some of the kids with those qualifications can’t get work.  Not because they don’t have the experience, not because they are getting beat at interview not because there aren’t enough jobs but because they were born with a virus in their blood and their future employers demand to know their health status and seemingly have the right to ask, and then discriminate.  Oh Thailand it does makes it hard to love you sometimes. 

We’ve taken away the worry for her of the consistency of funding, we provide for the medical needs of the kids and we do all we can to address the other problems that she encounters, but when I learnt of the problems the kids are now facing, I came up blank, not knowing how best to support her or remove this obstacle. Having had time to consider it, I’m none the wiser as to how to help on this occasion, right now I am coming up empty with solutions, but we’ll continue to see what we can do, our best is what the kids deserve.

But what has been interesting is the strength that Mae Thiew has drawn from stopping.  From resting and letting others take up the fight, even if just for a couple of weeks. Her health is not ideal, it is probably the most fragile I have seen it in the eight years we have known and worked together.   She acknowledged that the physical pain she feels is fuelled by the fight inside her against the injustice her kids face.


Taking time to focus on her health, to relax, to mediate and to stop has given her a renewed strength and when you enquire about her health she is once again “strong”, but for those that know her that means very little as she is always “strong”. 

Taking time away from Home Hug has allowed her to focus on herself, it has allowed those at Home Hug to have the keys to the car for awhile and take it for a spin, to drive it how they would like on the roads they want, they’re making the decisions and they’re doing ok. 

My take out from this last week with Mae Thiew has been the benefit that comes from stopping and stepping out for a while.   She has one of the most important jobs of those I know, but stopping and stepping aside, spending some time on herself, well it would seem everyone has benefited, I know we certainly have.