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 Childrens day donate
13 Jan 2018
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20% discount for returning volunteers

Martin-Nolan02My name is Martin, I am 23 years old from Britain. This is the first time I have undertaken any voluntary work, before this I studied Architecture in university and I am currently taking a year out to travel, and I want to try and experience as many different experiences as I can so when I saw the outdoor programme offered by The Mirror Foundation it struck me as something a little different to the usual gap year experience.

I arrived at the Mirror foundation on 1st July 2013, to work here for 8 weeks. I had never really done anything like this before, so it was comforting when I met my fellow workers that they were all in similar positions. There were 13 of us starting the outdoor programme on that date, from all around the world including Britain, France, USA, Canada, New Zealand and China.

We were welcomed with an orientation meeting to talk us through the culture in Thailand and in the different hill tribe villages, and to let us know what we could expect to be doing in our time here. We were then shown around the Mirror Foundation; on first impressions it was everything that I had expected, a small community of volunteers all living together in basic surroundings of bamboo huts constructed by previous outdoor workers. Yet it still had a very warm and welcoming feel to it all, I was excited to get settled in properly and begin work.

For our first week we were based at a hill tribe village, Ban Jalae, where our task was to help the local community build a bridge over the river to extend the road and allow easier contact and trade with the other side. The work involved digging down either side of the river to establish the foundations and then mixing and pouring the cement into place, as well as constructing the structural steel frame which would be encased in the cement. The work was quite intense, especially in the heat but we were encouraged to take plenty of breaks and drink lots of water. We started work each day about 9.30am and finished at roughly 4pm. Having a group of like-minded volunteers around made the work much easier and lots of fun; there was a real sense of unity, if one of us was struggling we would all make sure they were helped out and took a break if needed. Huay Mae Sai Waterfall was about a kilometre away so at the end of the day we could go and bathe and chill out down there, it was nice to be able to mix work with play even midweek when initially I was expecting it would be nothing but work.

When we first arrived the village elders welcomed us by making us individual bracelets and blessing them, and throughout our time the people of Ban Jalae were always very hospitable and friendly, we were provided with all of our meals which were always delicious, and they always made sure that we never went hungry or needed for anything. At the end of the day the local children would come to our hut to play and try and extend their English skills, they seemed to be fascinated with us and keen to spend time with us whenever they could.

Martin-Nolan01I am only 1 week in of my 8-week stay, but already it seems like it has been a lot longer. The culture and way of life is so different to how things are back home; I have been really impressed at how much of an effort the local people go to make you feel comfortable and settled. If the first week is anything to go by, I am greatly looking forward to the rest of my time here as I will have helped on so many different projects and met some incredible people along the way. 

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