The following is a personal story, written by David as he got to know Michael and Devron whilst in Myanmar.
Only after 10 minutes, me and Mike started talking about the deep stuff in a hotel room in Yangon. He questioned my tattoo right away, a quote from the movie “Into the Wild” and called the main character an idiot. Mike, having lived in Alaska for a long time with his wife Devron, gave me his honest truth from the start. Ironically, while very appreciated, that's what my tattoo says; rather than love, give me truth.
We started talking about WINGS and only after a minute, Mike told me to stop. He said that his wife who was not present at the time, had to hear the story. We left my hotel room and went to found Devron in another one. Talking to them both, I felt instantly that I’ve known them for my entire life and we had just met. It was effortless, raw and honest while the conversation was filled with goodwill and warmth. We all said that this trip couldn’t have had a better start.
While visiting all these charity projects in Myanmar, I was blown away by the mindset and attitude of Mike and Devron. They always embraced the culture, ordered the local food and sometimes Mike even let the waitress or our host decide the meal for him. Devron took great care of everyone and was always the first to reach out her hand when someone needed one, including myself. They both tackled the inevitable problems we encountered with grace and showed immense respect and warmth to everyone we met on our journey. One of my favorite moments was when we were taking a boat ride for 3 hours. Halfway, I noticed Mike was sitting in a pool of water with his pants soaked. When I told him about it, he answered happily: “Yea I know. Can't really do much about it so I just enjoy the ride and the scenery.” The smile on his face in this precise moment tells me everything I need to know.
During one of the last days together, my computer broke down which put me in a lot of trouble as I had at the time, India and Nepal left before traveling home. Without it, I couldn’t do accounting, edit my photos properly, arrange all my content, pull off the planned photography workshop for Save the Children in India and so much more. Trying to charge the computer in Mike and Devrons room was unsuccessful. They told me that they wanted to buy a new computer for me as a donation to WINGS. I was in shock, saying that I can't accept it and that I need a very expensive and powerful machine for my work. They responded with: “The work you do is so important and we would love to help you. We don't want to die with money on the bank so we rather help a young guy like yourself who is working so hard for others.”
This was 9 days after we first met. Speechless and I still am, WINGS received a donation of 27,351 SEK and we could order the latest MacBook Pro and have it delivered to India thanks to my girlfriend Julia.
In terms of donating to a specific cause, it is a very unselfish and beautiful act, one that we respect and treat with utterly care. But donating to help a charity with this kind of cost is the next level and let me tell you why:
Without wings, a bird cannot fly. The general attitude towards donating is that people want 100% of their own money to go to the needy. But how is that possible if everyone thinks that way? How can any organization function without cost? How would you transport a donation from A-B? Where is the room for growth?
If no one is unselfish enough to cover the costs that come with charity work, there will be 0 results. Other organizations may be scared to say it but I'm not. That's the truth. When it comes to Mike and Devron, this question wasn’t even mentioned. They understand. I was extremely fortunate to get to know them and on both a personal and a professional level, it is nothing less than a treasure. I miss them very much and I look forward to visiting them in Alaska one day.