Saturday, May 22, 2010
Beginning again always starts from the dust....
A little over a year I grumbled at my friend, David, who stepped on a piece of orchid that had broken off as he moved his restaurant. I picked up the two little leaves, dusted them off and carefully took them home, poking them into a few bits of coconut husk. For over twelve months they have struggled and then about 2 months ago the growth spurt began. New leaves started - quite a few of them - and this weekend the very first flower. It's a smallish spray, not very glamorous by Thai orchid standards, but incredibly fragrant. And beautifully timed.
Today Thailand, similarly, is beginning to pick itself up from the dust after a terrible outbreak of political violence that has left over 80 people dead and 1,300 people injured. Not to mention a shattered national image and a massive amount of damage to its cities and people's livelihoods.
Arun Thai Natural has wanted to weep over the last months as the protests accelerated and the tourists dwindled. Our Chiang Mai based income dropped over 80%. This last week we have bene unable to trade due to the curfew. In practical terms, this has meant that I simply couldn't give our Production Manager the promised bonus to buy a new fridge after hers broke - in 42C early-rainy-season heat, to have no fridge is a disaster. For her, as a single mother with 3 dependent children, it has meant an extra 20 baht a day needing to be spent on ice for the cooler box we gave her and has also meant 2 hospital trips, medicines and several days off work and school while her youngest child, aged 2, struggled with food poisoning. These are the people costs of the political unrest that can never be measured or counted or, indeed, compensated.
For us, today, we see an end to the turmoil. Tonight is the last night of the curfew in Chiang Mai. On Monday, the banks and the post offices will be open again, so we can ship out the orders from mid last week that simply had to wait. We are blessed with customers around the world who were more concerned for our safety and our peace of mind than when their orders would ship.
Thai people are remarkably resilient and I look at my little blooming orchid as a symbol of hope. I pray that I, personally, may always be this resilient. And I pray that the Thai people as a whole may also pick themselves up out of the dust, grow some new political leaves and let the old, bruised, yellowing ones fall away. Thailand will bloom again as my little orchid has and Arun Thai Natural will be doing its part to support the ordinary people here in Northern Thailand. When you buy our products and help tell other people what we do, you are like the fine mist at evening watering times that allows the new flower spike to come. When you share our link on facebook or encourage people to follow our blog, you indirectly help us to build online sales income that offsets the economic impact that this political violence has, and will continue to have for some time. And that means simple things, like allowing us to employ an extra worker as our online orders build, or enabling me to give a valued worker a simple bonus which will allow her to buy a new fridge.
Time for the evening watering.... and new flowers.