This final week I was asked to work with two boys from the Korczak School. [The school was named after a Polish Jew whose heroism during WWII in attempting to save children under his care is legendary.] The children who attend Korczak are kids whose educations have been interrupted due to their impoverished circumstances. My two new students are twelve years old, live at the Mercy Centre, and have discipline problems. I put them right to work with me in the woodshop. We were building the last of the storage units for the boys’ house. They jumped right in, and after a basic safety lecture, I had them using all the tools.
It is getting really hot in Thailand now. The woodshop has a tin roof, so even though the boys are only there from 10 a.m. – 12 pm., it gets cooking. After the fourth day of work, I cut them loose early, was locking up to go to lunch, and when I turned around, one of the boys, Bird, was standing there with a cold Pepsi. He handed it to me, and I was knocked off my feet. These boys have nothing. And yet, he took the small amount of money he had to buy me a Pepsi as a thank-you for being his teacher. That Pepsi meant more to me than a Gold Rolex.