I don’t remember the exact date 15 years ago, but I do remember it was October 2005, when I stood in the kitchen of my tiny rented house in Sydney and had a conversation with a friend and colleague of mine Gill Williams who was back in the UK. Gill and I had worked together in Thailand identifying and returning bodies of those who had died as a result of the tsunami. “Those kids we met living in the tent, they need a house” said Gill, and that or the phone call from Police Command advising me I was to head to Thailand in the days after the tsunami, changed my life.
It’s not often, if I am honest with you, that I think about the days working in Thailand during 2005. There will be triggers at different times that take me back to a time and place that seems so long ago and yet there remains such clarity around certain events, families that I met, and the heartbreak experienced by so many.
The innocence on the faces of those kids that was revealed as I opened the the body bags, the weight of their tiny lifeless bodies in my arms as I carried them, that will never be lost on me.
There are sights you can’t un-see, there are bells that can’t be un-rung.
Each time I crack the shipping container doors at our farm, I brace myself for the rush of cold air and unforgettable smell that would emit from those in Thailand where we stored the bodies, but these days the only smell is the fumes from the chain saw and ride on mower stored in the container. I don’t dwell on those days of 2005, but they never leave, they are just a little further back in my memory.
In the decade and a half since those days in Thailand of 2005, I have lived nothing but a fortunate life blessed with a loving family, amazing wife and the incredible people I have shared the journey with.
Collectively, the Hands family has made an impact.
We have built stronger communities and not just in Thailand.
Whilst my thoughts are not too often taken to the work I did in Thailand, seldom does more than an hour pass during each and every day when I am not thinking in some way about the kids and communities of those we support in Thailand. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what we’ve done, but I spend a hell of a lot of time thinking about what we have to do.
I should take time to think about the positive impact Hands has had on the lives of the kids who have spent time with us, be it a short or enduring time. I should think about the kids that have access to health care, education and view the world as a better place because of what Hands has delivered. Equally the number of riders since 2009 who have raised an astonishing amount of money and ridden an unfathomable distance all to support the kids. Something we don’t speak too much about but the homes that have been built in the slums of Khlong Toey for the families who are devoid of some of the basic necessities of life. 18 homes might be a tiny drop in the ocean of the 100,000 people who live there, but for those 18 families I know it has changed their life in a way we just can’t really understand.
Our success can never me measured in the number of kids that we care for or the homes that we have built. True and ultimate success would be in closing the doors permanently because the need no longer exists, but until that time, until we are not needed we have a job to do. This and the following generation of kids depends on us more now than ever.
On the 31st of October we will pause to reflect, celebrate and look forward and I invite you to join us from the comfort of your home. Never has engaging with us been so easy, never has it been so important. I invite you to dinner, without leaving home, to what will be a celebration of 15 years and a commitment to our Thai community that we will not be a victim of Covid 19. Together we are bigger and stronger and we don’t want any of them wondering about the certainty of their future.
If you would like to join me for dinner and ensure our support of the kids is not compromised, please head to the Hands Page and join us to celebrate the achievements of 15 years, on the 31st of October 2020.