last weekend, i attended a rehabilitation program for families of disappeared persons in satun, southern thailand. it was an experience that was by turns inspiring, humbling and distressing. this was the second of a series of workshops for the families, and i was told they were doing much better than earlier; there were few tears this time, and a lot of laughter. the group was made up of about 15 women and two men; the disappeared persons tend to be men between the age of 25-50. they came from the southern provinces of yala, pattani and narathiwat, which are under emergency decree. the program's focus was on helping the participants to help others; from being victims to becoming healers.
being so close to not only the victims, but also to the on the ground daily violence in the south was another humbling experience. we received daily cases of rape, torture and shootings. i was shown pictures of a horrific killing inside a mosque that took place just days before. i listened to the difficulties faced by human rights activists working there, most of whom are muslim. very different from my work in hk.
i was there for four days, and it felt like four lifetimes. i have yet to digest all that i saw and felt.