Hey There

by jeannabauer

My blog died.

It appears to have happened somewhere around the New Year.

The good new is, I didn’t – I’ve just been busy.

2014 started with a challenge – asking for money. I created an IndieGoGo online fundraiser to support my final months with Partners Relief and Development in Thailand (Hey, Midwest, I’m coming back to you – July 2014). It was wildly successful and I’m forever grateful. Because of your generosity – I was able to get so. much. done. In the last five months I:

Went to Burma. My days were spent wondering the city, admiring textiles and reading in teashops. My evenings staying up late at sidewalk cafes eating barbecued pork and drinking Myanmar beer with my friend Ah Fu. Talking about Burma. And America. About opportunities and barriers. About the things that have changed. And the things that haven’t.

I was promoted in the Social Development Department at Partners, becoming supervisor of the Migrant Community Support program. The staff I train have helped multiple families navigate the complicated migrant medical care system, hosted trainings on hand washing and are working with leaders to increase sanitation practices and decrease disease. They’re developing a new mother support group and facilitating a bi-monthly workshop aimed to increase self-esteem in children affected by trauma.

My Manager and I have been working on the redevelopment of our training materials with the hope that our staff will bring Community Support Work training to Shan State. They’ll start training some of their peers at Shan Youth Power in Chiang Mai this summer.

I had the honor of dragging my best friend around Thailand. Bangkok. Krabi. Chiang Mai. We ate a lot of food and took photos of the empty plates. Read books on the beach and almost accidentally stole a baby. We climbed up waterfalls and cruised the countryside in a 60s VW beetle. We made clear dents in every market visited.

Back in the office I created a system for calculating the costs of our woven products. Better organization in our pricing system means more money in the hands of our weavers. Most of whom are farmers, using weaving as a supplemental income used for school fees, medical care and household items like soap.

And, I learned how to weave. I made a shirt and bag with the help of many. For a week I spent time with our weavers in Na Klang Nua learning about them, their families, their thoughts about weaving and the craft itself. There was some time with elephants too.

None of this would have been possible without your love and support. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

In the next month, I’ll be working hard to bring my projects to a place where they’re sustainable without me. I’m working through a mini Chiang Mai bucket list – today, I’m determined to find the Textiles Museum. And spending quality time with friends at my favorite spots throughout the city.

I hope this note finds you all well. Be seeing you soon …