Volunteer Review: Gabriella R., General Care Projects in Thailand
The care placement with Projects Abroad in Thailand is truly an amazing one. Everything ranging from the host family, the food, the culture to the actual placement itself adds towards making this an experience that will stick with you forever.
The Care Project
Working at Ban Nong Thaley School is definitely a highlight in my life. Just being able to put a smile on the children’s faces every day is something I will cherish forever. To know that I made a difference to the children’s lives is an extremely rewarding feeling. Some days were a bit challenging, handling around twenty five energetic 4/5 year olds is not easy but at the end of the day knowing I got through to them in some way or another made it all worthwhile. Finding out their names was a big step in establishing a better relationship with the kids, and it was amazing to see their reactions as we called them out. Every day as we got off the bus the kids would come running to us shouting our names and give us a big hug - it was great to see how much they cared about you, and I will definitely miss them.
My Host Family
Meeting my host family was quite nerve wracking at first as I realized I would be living with them for the next month. We were placed with a family consisting of Pa, Ma and Soraira who live in a predominantly Muslim village on a peninsula called Koh Klang just by Krabi town. Getting there was exciting enough going on my first ever ride on a long tail boat, which only took about 5 minutes. On the peninsula as we drove towards the host family house we could tell it was a very local community and that living here would help us get a real close feel of what Thai life is like, a true immersion into Thai culture.
When we got to the house we couldn’t have been made more welcome, being greeted by Ma with a very warm smile and delicious food; such an amazing beginning to our stay. Over the month we got to know this special family really well, getting to know their personalities and their customs (even adopting some of them such as not using toilet paper).
Soraira was an amazing kid who loved to practice counting numbers in English with us. She was also very keen in joining in and helping us prepare activities for school the next day. She’d always come sit with us at the table and bring her scissors and coloring pencils and look at us expectantly waiting for us to show her how to help. She was also always very eager to teach us some words in Thai and found it very funny when our pronunciation was off. Her favorite game was Snakes and Ladders, and every night we were challenged. By the end of the month there, she had basically turned into my little sister and I definitely still miss her.
Pa always seemed to be full of energy. I will always remember looking out the window and seeing him jog around the field, or playing football with friends. He’d always bring us fruit from work and joke around with us. Ma was always around and would always offer to help if we had a problem. She once even helped me sew up my trousers. Her food was the most amazing thing I had to eat whilst in Thailand, and it was lovely to see how much she put into making us feel at home. Her warm smile and her friendliness, even though she probably didn’t understand what we were saying most of the time, will be missed.
They are a wonderful, kind and caring family and the placement would not have been the same if it weren’t for their hospitality. Picking up a bit of Thai language helped improve our relationship though it was always fun trying to decipher what they were trying to say.
Living in Thailand
Getting to know the people in the neighborhood was extremely easy and rewarding. Everyone is so open and friendly and will say hello or ‘sawadeeka’ as you walk by. Even only one month was enough to get to know our surroundings well and make some friends; by the end of our placement we would meet people who would randomly just give us a fruit they had been picking or start up a conversation with us in Thai. One old man would always invite us into his garden yard to have a chat, even when we didn’t understand anything. The long-tail boat men gathering at the pier was also a typical daily sight, as were the women behind the food-stalls around the village selling fish crackers.
The most common form of transport was motorbikes, and these were everywhere. Children who looked only 10 years old would ride them; sometimes you would even see five people on the bike at once. In the evenings you would see families on the way to the mosque, you’d hear some man’s voice from loud speakers, saying Muslim prayer, the silence that followed was always enchanting.
It was always pleasant to take a walk around the village, and walk past the huge fields of rice, which seemed to go on forever; the lack of streetlights also made evening walks rather magical under the moonlight. With the buffalos, the dramatic landscapes, the wonderful kind people and the incredibly interesting housing and way of life Koh Klang is a little magical corner of the earth which will be hard to forget. It was so amazing to be somewhere so rural and intimate and at the same time close to the city.
The Thai Experience
One of the best things about Thailand is the food. Everywhere we went there were market food-stalls selling all things imaginable, different noodle dishes, rice dishes, chicken dishes, curries, fruit, crickets and grasshoppers, each thing tastier than the last. It was always exciting walking up to a noodle stall, pointing at random ingredients and watch as a fantastically good dish was made in less than 5 minutes. It was always a gamble not knowing what you would get in your dish, but everything always tasted so nice one couldn’t really complain. My favorite dish consisted of a noodle soup with what I believe to be pork balls. Another thing hard to forget was how friendly Thai people were, they were always willing to help and always seemed to be smiling.
Overall, I believe this experience has helped me grow as an individual, and that I can now move on and carry with me everything I learned. I really do hope it won’t be long till I get to come back to Thailand, a place that has unquestionably changed my life forever.
This volunteer story may include references to working in or with orphanages. Find out more about Projects Abroad's current approach to volunteering in orphanages and our focus on community-based care for children.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.