esteem after humiliation

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Year 2009 collection. After running the Bangkok Marathon of that year I was honoured with a finishing medal as usual, but I felt I could run for a cause, to run and help something at the same time. On that same day I was taken, by my wife, to visit a shelter for beaten, harassed and humiliated women or women in need for support such a simple friendly word or for a single mother in need of an advice.

As I did in the past when working in Thailand and visited and helped an orphanage for abandoned kids, on my way to this place I tried to imagine how does it look like a private place for that purpose; is it just a plot of land hidden somewhere in the city with a few simple huts where people lay down and feel just safe, is it a building standing alone crammed with people running up and down and waiting to be called to be heard about their burden, is it an open space inside a gate… etc, etc.

Upon my arrival all my thoughts came to a halt when my eyes caught a glimpse of the beautiful garden on the entrance. It was not extremely pruned and aligned, but rather wild but taken good care. It indicated to me that a person or organisation behind it was not careless which gave me a sensation of a good place to be. The cars have to stay parked outside and once passing the main entrance without guard we walked for about 300 metres before reaching the core of the place. The precincts were filled with small simple wooden buildings casted in clusters of  low palm trees and shrub. Each house had a relieved purpose depending the harassment or burden the women had been through. Severe cases can stay there until be able to return to a normal life whatever it means. Some can spend one or two days, some come only for meditation sessions or just spend time inside with the suffering member of the family.

A buddhist nun took us to make a tour of the place and I was speechless to see I was inside a small paradise, “an honourable place for those who have been humiliated, this is our small contribution to console the suffering hearts walking-in“, she said… “there is no need to apply or whatsoever, they can walk-in and ask for help. Depending on how much the person have been through we have different ways of supporting, it can be from an individual private talking session for them to release their hardship till open therapy sessions and special intro meditative classes to learn the use of mediation in comforting their sadness. We are not police and don’t want them here inside, we keep it out. We are just a safe haven for them at that particular moment and can stay until the scars on their heart are faded.

It happened that the nun who took us in a tour around the beautiful gardens was the first follower of the master behind such a honourable place. The master is also a buddhist nun who has herself been through a disgraceful relationship before entering the temple and embracing the reclusion.  After getting her happiness back again she thought thoroughly how could she help others that have not the wisdom she felt when decided to enter that sacred place, the buddhist temple. She pulled her sleeves up and created a small paradise for those who saw hell before regaining self-esteem in a society that is careless by protective means for the vulnerable.

She let me take one photo in a very protective area of the garden at one condition; not to reveal the place location…