in which we take a deep breath before the upcoming plunge

So you might be wondering "what the deuce is technomancy up to these days anyway; he seems to be all over the place". Or you might be not wondering that, but if you were, you'd have a great point. I'm not doing much Clojure these days, there's just a smattering of Racket going on, and I'm not doing all that much Erlang either.

vine pole

Well, this post isn't much about code, but perhaps you'll indulge me a bit all the same. My wife and I always had the idea that we would move overseas at some point. I grew up in Indonesia and Singapore, and her father was raised in Ecuador. We didn't really have a clear idea of what this would look like, but as 2014 began we started to look more seriously.

This past June, my wife and I traveled to Thailand for a few weeks in order to meet up with a few organizations working specifically with Burmese affected by the long-running civil war and rampant human rights abuses. We spent some time in Chiang Mai[1] but then headed down to Mae Sot on the Burmese border. While we were down there we stayed with folks from the Charis project and got to hear stories of their efforts to lift migrant families in the area out of poverty.

So often you see western aid framed in terms of Americans coming in with their money to save the day, (it's less often you hear about ways in which this backfires and contributes to a cycle of dependence) but we could clearly see that wasn't what was happening here. The Charis Project possessed a bold and compelling vision for breaking the cycle of poverty by empowering whole families to be self-sustaining, and they had an impressive track record when it came to pulling it off.

I could tell you some of the stories we heard from them, but they do it so much better.

Yesterday I quit my fantastic job of three years at Heroku, and I'm planning on moving with my family to Thailand next month to partner with them.

It isn't clear yet exactly what our role will be there. If it ends up to be working with technology somehow (likely in the form of education?) then that would be great, but I've gotten over myself and will be content even if not. I've learned a lot about selflessness and helping others through my friends and church the last few years. I almost feel embarassed that it took me to the point where I had everything in my own life put together before I could really take the time to think seriously about what I could do to help those around me. But it feels like the only response I could have as I reflect on how blessed my own life has been and when I read about the situations some of these people are living in.


So the current plan is to fly over in the middle of January. I plan on spending a portion of my time doing consulting[2], but since the cost of living is dramatically lower in Mae Sot than in the United States, my hope is that this will still leave me with a significant amount of time to work with Charis. In addition, I want to continue to run my custom keyboard business selling kits. 10% of proceeds will go directly to poverty-alleviation projects, and the rest will go to supporting my family; if interest remains strong it may allow me to focus more and spend less time consulting.

But you don't need to buy a keyboard to contribute to the work going on there. Again, they've said it better on their blog than I could, but it's remarkable how great an impact you can have with donations that can seem so small from a western lifestyle perspective. Please consider giving to support their life-changing projects.

I'll be posting updates as things progress. We anticipate we will spend a while focused mostly on learning the language, culture, and just figuring out life. We're all very excited to move into this next phase.

Update: I moved back to the US with my family in late 2016 to live in Washington state.

[1] I may have talked to some of you in the past about working in Chiang Mai for another organization. Both organizations are doing fantastic work I greatly respect. It's a long story, but we realized not too long ago that if we really wanted our whole family to be involved, Chiang Mai and the work we had planned there wasn't the way to go about it.

[2] Spending the last five years working remotely has helped prepare me for an arrangement like this, though the time zones will be a new challenge for me.

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