…to sum it all up….

April 16, 2009

Although it felt a little out-of-control to not have some great master plan to film the street kids, it was amazing how it came together in each place.

Now our work begins as we finish translation and start editing and trying to piece together a story.

We have a lot of research and some more interviews to shoot, but the kids really broke our heart and we’re excited to share their stories with you and hopefully it will stir people to action on their behalf.

Our Crews Last Night at the Beach in Agadir, Morocco

Our Crews Last Night at the Beach in Agadir, Morocco

Thanks for reading and being a part of our trip!

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Morocco: Part Deux

April 16, 2009

Emily, Braden and I spent the second part of our trip in Taroudant, a small town in the south of Morocco. Emily and I first came with our host Ubaldo (who is the president of an NGO that helps centers for the disabled all over Morocco) in 2005, when there was nothing going on. Now the center has moved to a new location and is able to help many more kids (although still needing funding).

While we were in Taroudant, Ubaldo expressed his desire to also start working with street kids. Because there is such high unemployment in Taroudant and tons of single or divorced mothers, the kids are left to their own devices during the day. AID, homosexuality, drug use and sex are rampant amongst the kids. One Moroccan NGO that is already working to help poor families is looking to start a drop-in center for the kids.

We ended up filming on kid, Badar, and his family. His father is unable to work because he broke his hip. His daughter had to drop out of school and Badar eats most of his meals out on the street. Badar’s mother is pregnant again as well–“another street kids on the way” as our translator put it. We were able to help them a little and buy them groceries. The NGO is trying to get the father surgery, and the girl back in school. But unfortunately stories like this, and kids like Badar are all too common.

Filming on the walls of Taroudant

Filming on the walls of Taroudant

We landed in Casablanca after traveling for at least 24 hours to have customs confiscate our camera. I cried. I was really tired.

Luckily we were schedule to spend the night in Rabat and so we went to the Ministry of Communication and got the right paperwork to be able to get the camera back AND film anywhere in the country no questions asked (not that anyone ever asked questions). It was an adventure. Chris had to argue with the guy to get the camera back even with all the paper work.

In Rabat we filmed at AMSELD a center for disabled kids. They do an awesome job both helping the kids and training the families to help the kids. We got to spend the day with Yusalla, who is 5 years old and who’s family moved from Fez to get her help. Their story is truly amazing as now Yusalla can walk and is starting to talk, when all the doctors said she’d never walk.

The Others left after the first day to go to Marakech and film some friends of mine who own a trekking company. It was looking like Morocco was going to be a very full trip.

Emily filming our crazy host, Ubaldo

Emily filming our crazy host, Ubaldo

In order to save everyone from having to read a million posts (and since I’m already back from the trip) I’m going to just talk about the rest of our time in Mae Sot here. There was way too much that Compasio does (you’ll have to watch the videos), so I’m just going to talk about their work with street kids.

Kimbo-y gets up at sunrise and walks five miles every morning from Burma to come to Mae Sot to beg. Then, if she’s made enough begging to satisfy the family, they walk back around nightfall, if not they stay well after dark, sometimes sleeping in the streets. Sometimes her father and step-mother come with her, sometimes she is sent by herself with her baby-brother. Kimbo-y is eleven years old.

One day she flagged me and Jill down as we were walking back to the hotel. She had a huge open wound on her foot from her walk from the border. None of the kids have shoes. Jill ran and bought her flip-flops while I busted out my handy-dandy travel sized med-kit and cleaned up her wound (I was getting used to carrying it around everywhere, as you need it when working with street kids).

Her story is like countless others of the children that we met in the streets. Compasio feeds them informally by paying for their meals at a food stall in the market. Everyday the staff walks through and rounds up the street kids and take them to the “food lady” who gives them a hot meal.

We got to film the stories of the kids, and follow them from the border as they walk into Mae Sot everyday.

Compasio (like Kings Kids) is hoping to open a drop in center for the kids, so we hope that through our films we can help raise awareness and finances for this project.

It was amazing to be able to film the stories of street kids again.

With Kimbo-y

With Kimbo-y

Emily, Braden and I took a five-hour bus ride on Thursday and arrived to find that Rachel (our host who works with Compasio) had a SCHEDULE for us! And not only that, she’d PRINTED IT OUT! Truly, it was a miracle.

So, Friday we we went and visited two Burmese families where the husbands had been killed by their Thai boss because he didn’t want to pay them. Each of the ladies has five kids, so Compasio refers to them informally as the “ten-kid family.” Compasio buys them food and helps their kids go to school.

As they sat with us and told the story on camera of how they lost their husbands, both of the ladies and the kids started crying. It was probably the most difficult moment on the trip. Wondering what to keep filming, how to proceed as they cried and cried. We ended up shutting off the camera and taking the kids down the street for some snacks and then playing with them in the yard.

Unfortunately, the working conditions for the Burmese are terrible, and stories like these ladies are not uncommon in Mae Sot.

Filming with the "ten-kid" family.

Filming with the "ten-kid" family.

Emily, Braden and I spent 5 days in Chiang Mai. The other half of our team stayed in Chaing Mai for another week after we left.

Chiang Mai feels like a second home. I love it there. Connecting with old friends, past translators, making new friends with our Thai staff. We stayed at Won Generation or WonGen, which is a coffee shop/band venue open on Mon, Wed and Friday Nights. They’ve been putting on concerts around Chiang Mai with the local Thai metal scene. They hosted BlindSide a couple years ago and put on a benefit concert with 20+ bands while we were there.¬† The others shot a promo video for WonGen and did some graphic design and photography projects for them.

I spent most of my time prepping for Mae Sot (a border town where Emily Braden and I were going next) and catching up with old friends. Here are some highlights;

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My Thai Friends Milk and Mango

–After not sleeping for 48 hours I got dragged out to Mango’s birthday celebration at O’Malleys pub. I’d traveled from Nepal through India to an Irish pub with my Thai friends. It was a strange culture shock.

–Banana pancakes at Mountain View Guest House. Amazing thick fluffy goodness.

–Saw my friends Adam and Cindy from UCSD who live in Chiang Mai. Got to meet their house-full of kids!

–We shot an amazing interview with Al Brown, the head of Compasio, the NGO who we were going to film in Mae Sot, a town on the border of Burma. I struggled to not cry as he told stories of kids they had rescued.

–Had a day off complete with Starbucks at the mall, a terrible movie and street food at the Sunday market. Street food was definetely the best part of that day.

Traveling: Days 17 &18

March 10, 2009

2 Hours Flight: Katmandu-Delhi

7 hours in Delhi

4 hour  Red eye to Thailand

5 hours in Bangkok

1 hour flight to Chiang Mai.

once again…brilliant feet of budgeting = crappy itinerary