As P’Ben (our heroic driver) drove the CAP volunteers and staff down the dusty, unpaved, and sun-scorched road towards Wildflower Home, a refuge for single mothers and their children who have been cast out of their homes due to the cultural stigma attached to single motherhood in Thailand, I was struck by the sight of several men painting the gateway that frames the entrance to Wildflower a bright, vibrant, almost obnoxious blue. We seemed so far removed from the activity of Chiang Mai, so secluded – that such a loud, colorful statement appeared far from necessary. Yet “color” is what Wildflower house is all about; Defying and exceeding expectations, Elizabeth Thaibinh, Wildflower’s founder, has succeeded in creating a vibrant and supportive community for the dozens of women who call Wildflower home.
Like the gate, our workshop at Wildflower was all about color, and was designed both as a creative “release valve” from these women’s stressful lives, and as an opportunity to enliven the spaces in which they live, work, and dream. Utilizing a wide range of media, from hand-designed rubber stamps to acrylic paints, the women at Wildflower (with some often-messy input from their children) designed and decorated their own unique calico flags, and then hung them up in the walls of one of the center’s many open air buildings. In the process, their living space was dramatically transformed, and they were able to see their “feelings,” “things,” and “memories” (the themes of the workshop) emblazoned on the walls of this temporary home.
By allowing them a space in which to articulate their own unique creative voices, I hope we’ve helped these women turn Wildflower into something resembling a “home.” As long as Thai stigmas against single motherhood persist, Wildflower will continue to open its doors, welcoming mothers and children into this impromptu community of empowerment and friendship. It’s the least we can do to make our own small—if colorful—contribution.
If you’d like to volunteer your time or money to this worthwhile cause, just visit the Wildflower website: