In this post I want to share with you my volunteering experience in Thailand from last year.
So exactly one year ago I was getting back from the most amazing experience in my life. Me and Oli love to help other people. We try to do it as much as we can, the way we can. One of our goals is to build an humanitarian aid organization, to be able to help as many people a possible.
Well, last year I got the chance to go on a volunteering trip to Thailand. One of my friends was looking to go volunteering and she offered me to go with her. I didn’t have much money myself by that time. I told her that I had to ask my parents first, because I would need their help to be able to afford it.
What did they say to volunteering?
I honestly thought my parents where going to say no, and so I told my friend. And, I was right. Their first answer was “no”. At that point I really wanted to go to Thailand. I just loved the idea of volunteering, so I wasn’t going to take no for an answer. So I kept on trying and told my parents that it was a great experience, that I had to do it now, because if not I might never do it.
I explained that we only had to pay for the flight and my expenses there, because we got the accommodation for free (which wasn’t the case, but it was so cheap that I was confident I was going to be able to save that money). And I told them how it was going to help me in the future, how it would help me grow, not only personal but also work wise.
And last but not least, how it was an amazing graduation gift. It was my last year of my bachelor, and what better way to end it then going volunteering to Thailand?
So, as you can imagine, at the end they said yes, if not, i would not be writing this post.
As soon as I got the final yes I called my friend to let her now. We got super excited and were immediately looking for flights to Thailand, getting vaccinated…
We were going to be in Bangkok, in the Fatima Self Help Center. This center is run by the Good Shepherds Sisters. Their mission is to help the ones who are deprived and rejected in society, specially women and girls. Women and children who are victimized and abused in their own families and teenage girls who are on the fringe of society and at odds with their families. They create a homely place for those children who lack adult care at home. And also provide home to the migrant and asylum seekers who face loneliness being in a foreign land and to those who are abused by their employers.
So this center helps people in need from mothers with the new borns to older women. We got there, and didn’t really know what to expect. We hadn’t been told what we were going to be doing there, but we were willing to help with anything they needed.
So what did I do there?
Our total stay was from two months. So the first month they put us to work with in the Fatima Center, with the girls and women. Here they learn how to do high standard handcrafts like toys, educational books, children’s clothes. They learn these basic skills that enable them to earn a decent living since they get a fair wage for their work. The things they do are sold, so the center is able to give them this kind of “salary”.
We were there working by their side, helping them where needed. They were working on christmas decorations because that was the next closes festivity and they are popular products. So we help them do christmas cards. It was really fun, and even though they didn’t speak english and the communication was hard, we manage to communicate with them.
We enjoyed the month working with them, but to be honest, the second month was much better.
What happened the second month?
The second month we started working in the Day Care Centre. This was like a kindergarten for the kids from the women working on the Fatima center as well as for other kids coming from poor families from the neighborhood and who are at risk.
So kids would be dropped of in the morning, would get some lessons, get lunch and in the afternoon they would be picked up by their parents or person in charge.
What we did here was helping out in the classroom. I got assigned the 3 to 4 year olds. So every class had a teacher and we had to help them. We mostly gave the english lessons, played with the kids and help the teacher out when needed. But for me it was the first time working with kids, so a completely new experience.
First day when we started working with them the they just dropped us in the class. When the teacher finished the lesson she just told me to sing with them. This kids where learning english from the very beginning, so they knew couple of songs and words in english.
So, did I get along with the kids?
Even thought they knew a couple of words, at the beginning it was kind of hard but funny at the same time. You would tell the kids to be quiet or to sit down, and all they would do was repeating what you said because they didn’t understand.
But not being able to speak the same language didn’t mean you could not communicate with them. After a couple of days, even though I could still not understand everything they wanted, didn’t really feel like the language was that big of a deal anymore.
The kids liked us. I had one kid in my class, his name was Cup, and I would have brought him home with me if I could. He would just run out of class if he saw me coming into the kindergarten just to say hello and give me a great hug. Those are the moments where you realize how the smallest things in life are the ones that stay with you forever.
As typical for the thai culture, kids would have to leave the shoes in front of the class. Since they were barefoot, they had to wear some socks as part of the uniform. When I got there I noticed that a lot of the kids had socks with holes.
Before leaving back to Spain, I bought every kid in my class a pair of socks along with some school material for the classroom. But, you will think, a pair of socks? I couldn’t believe how thankful this kids where when I came with a bag full of socks and handed them out.
What do I take from the experience?
Moments like the one when I handed out socks make you realize how little we actually need to be happy, and that we should be thankful for everything we have. A lot of people have lot less than we do, and are much happier than we are.
I am thankful that I got to enjoy this amazing country for two months, but more than that, that I got to do it through volunteering. Thanks to it i got to experience Thailand from a whole different perspective than I would have if I had just gone for a trip.
I got to live in a Thai house, where I had to take my shoes off to go in, where I lived with 5 more thai girls, where I slept in the hardest mattress I have ever seen in my life. All this made me experience two of the most amazing months in my life.
If you like to help, I recommend volunteering as a way of travelling. Not only you are doing something good, but it also changes the way you see things. We take to many things for granted, and I think it is important to see the other side as well.
So we hope we you enjoyed reading about my experience in Thailand. Hopefully it inspired you to consider volunteering as an option for your next trip. If you want more tips on how to travel the world on a low budget then you should download our FREE E-Book with the best tips on How to Travel the World with 30$ a day.