Each evacuation centre had a kid's tent and on the first day I was assigned to do kid's activities, I saw a group of them squatting outside the tent stirring their pails of mud. I smiled and asked them what they were doing. They happily looked up and said, "We're cooking curry! Which flavor would you like? Spicy or sweet?" I said, "Spicy, please." They went back to stirring their pails of "curry" very seriously, adding a few leaves for garnish and after a few minutes, they served it up with flourish.
The second time I was assigned duties at the kid's tent, I met a little girl named Yuko. She was 7 years old and for some reason, she took to me. She stayed by my side the whole day doing art and crafts and wanted me to go with her whenever she left the tent. After lunch, she came back to the tent carrying a small pail very carefully. I looked at her in amusement and asked her what she had there. She proudly showed it to me and inside the pail, there were 3 plastic bottle caps floating in some water. She looked up at me with a twinkle in her eye and said, "These are goldfishes. My real goldfishes got swept away by the tsunami so these are my goldfishes now. Look, here is the daddy goldfish, the mummy goldfish and the baby goldfish." I asked if her baby goldfish had a name and she said not yet. So we spent the afternoon thinking of the perfect name for her baby goldfish.
So why am I sharing their stories here? Well, I share these stories because in my time there, I learnt precious lessons about life from these children.
Often, those of us in the LGBTQ community feel that life has dealt us a difficult hand and that is admittedly, very true on many levels. But like the children, I choose to see things from another perspective. Sometimes, life is unfair and we can't choose our circumstances. But we can choose our perspectives. I choose to see that life has given me an opportunity to nurture authenticity, courage and resilience. Like those with indomitable spirits, I choose to accept this difficult hand and I will work to turn things around. And maybe if we all do this together, we can make things better for our future generation.