Noh Place Like Home
Noh Bo, one of our favorite places in Thailand, is a small village in the heart of the Karen homeland. It’s about two hours north of Mae Sot and edges up the Moei River, which doubles as the border with Burma. It’s also the location of one of Blessed Homes’ centers: a collection of homes for children who have no place to go.
Because of the nature of a children’s home (and this one especially), these kids grow up with a unique cultural cocktail of musical influences.
Ole Jørgen Edna, director of Blessed Homes, talks about how “the older kids…have a fairly big influence on the younger kids.” The older kids are allowed to have phones which give them wider access to music. With the ability to seek out music themselves, they listen to a lot of contemporary Karen and Thai music.
The younger children are also heavily influenced by the staff workers at the home. Stephanie Melachrinos, the assistant director from Pennsylvania, has an iPad loaded with music and movies for the kids. Like in America, “Let It Go” is omnipresent. Disney animated classics are always popular. Have you heard this Brazilian song? No No (a 10-year-old Noh Bo boy) has, and it’s his favorite. I’m convinced he knows Portuguese now.
The musical culture at the home goes beyond listening. Almost every morning we wake up to Glory (pictured above) singing loudly from the bathroom, there are always kids playing guitar, and the common room is usually filled with kids watching Thai music videos about romance and heartbreak. Often times a choir of Karen kids perform at the local church. (Josh talks about interacting with the local kids in a more detailed post. Check it out).
Blessed Homes gave us some of the best times of our trip, as well as a unique perspective into the lives of a very fun group of Karen children. We know that our weekends at Noh Bo didn’t give us a complete perspective of the musical influences there. The kids have plenty of interactions with their peers at both Karen and Thai school, as well as occasional trips to visit friends or extended family in other villages.