Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Volunteering in Phang Nga

Before I start this post I've realised that I haven't been updating you on the temperature/progress of my tan like I was going to. Well it's probably best I don't to be honest seeing as the whole point was to make everybody jealous and I'm pretty sure that you're not going to envy me looking like this...

I assure you I am a normal colour again now but all the same I think I'll give the "tan watch" thing a miss. It's also been raining non stop for about a week. Serves me right for bragging to people at home earlier in the trip I guess. I'm now on Ko Phi Phi and had to wade through ankle deep water to get to my hostel and it's STILL chucking it down. I'm sure I just saw some lightening too. Fingers crossed the sun comes out soon!

Anyway, two weeks ago I left the hotel in Surat Thani and headed south to Phang Nga province to stay at an orphanage called Home & Life to volunteer. It's a really nice place and they have about 25 children staying there. It is called an 'orphanage foundation' but not all (actually I don't think any) are literally orphans but, Phang Nga being the worst hit province, all were affected by the tsunami in some way - family members killed or their livelihoods ruined. The orphanage was set up in the aftermath to take care of children whose families may not be able to afford to feed them or send them to school etc. It was set up by a couple called Root and Rosa who come from Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand but were so affected by news of the tsunami they sold their house, quit their jobs and relocated to Phang Nga where they built and set up the orphanage. It's a really inspiring story actually! The children's parents come to visit them here and they all have a safe place to stay and to be cared for. There's also an amazing bakery attached which raises money for the orphanage and I took full advantage if the delicious coffees and banana bread during my stay :) If you want to have a look at the website for more info or to donate any money the address is http://www.homelifethailand.com/home-en.html (I've just discovered there's also some pics of me on there!)

I met two other girls from England, Mia and Camilla, who were volunteering at the same time and was really good to have some company. We generally got up at 6am-7am every day (more early mornings, eurgh) to help get the children ready for school, hand out their pocket money etc then did their laundry and cleaned their rooms in the mornings. During the afternoon it was much more varied and we did lots of different things to help out if and when it was needed. I was given the task of teaching English to an 18 year old girl called Aew who lived in the nearby village every afternoon and I really enjoyed it. I thought I'd hate being a 'teacher' but it was nice because she was so lovely and really eager to learn, probably very different to schools in the UK. She even bought me little presents and a bunch of flowers at our last lesson with a card where she had written a message in English, it was so sweet!

Me and Aew

For two days last week we went to the city hall in Phang Nga town to teach English to the regional government with a group of three other English people from the Volunteer Teach Thailand organisation. This was pretty much sprung on us and we didn't really have a clue what we were doing but as the other volunteer teachers said "That's Thailand". You have to just try and take things as they come because organisation isn't exactly a strong point. The language barrier too meant we often weren't told things until they were actually happening. Although it was quite intimidating at first (we had to stand in front of a room of really senior government officials and introduce ourselves in Thai) it turned out to be quite fun and the people were generally very friendly. 

We taught the children English as well, on weekend mornings when they were home from school, but this was much more energetic and mainly involved running around shouting. I think some of it got through to them though, I hope so anyway! The kids are always so affectionate, happy and smiley which was not really what I expected at all, but it was great. They really welcome you with open arms and I felt very at home there. The first day we arrived a meeting was called and the children were told that we were now part of their 'family' and that we were their new big sisters and I honestly feel like I was treated like that. I feel like I got to know them all individually and it was sad leaving them this morning! Oh, and we were also given a "Thai name' for the duration of our stay. Mine was 'Jarm'

Getting a certificate and CD of photos on my last evening

Another project that we did while we were at Home and Life was painting the wall outside the girl's bedroom which they seemed very grateful for and it's good to think that there is something I can leave behind for them. I can't take much credit for the drawing though - that was all Mia and Camilla, I just did the colouring in!

Although I really enjoyed myself I felt ready to leave after 2 weeks - it's very hard work and we only got one day off a week (which we still got woken up at 7.30am on..) so I'm glad to be able to relax a bit now. I hope the weather picks up or I'm just going to have to stay in my hostel for the next 4 days though.

Hope everyone is well at home :) Love Jarm xxx

1 comment:

  1. I like the name Jarm!! This can be your new name!! The children sound so lovely :) I'm glad you're enjoying yourself and having an amazing time! I couldn't imagine doing something like you are, it sounds like such an amazing experience. Enjoy the rest of your travels and I hope it stops raining soon x