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

Halfway through my Mirror Foundation two-week stint, Christmas arrived and what a unique experience it was. Despite the majority of Thais being Buddhist, the villages our outdoor group encountered were primarily Christian, so Christmas was in fact a time of celebration. We were on a Karen hill tribe homestay with our Thai leader’s (Leck) extended family for this period, which meant we were really able to experience a Thai Christmas. (As a side note, I thought it was interesting that this village was made up of mainly concrete homes. Not all villages are, with some continuing to live in bamboo style huts).

In the days leading up to the 25th we banded together with the community and a full-forced team, of what looked liked 40 people, picked up hoes, machetes, wheelbarrows and rakes to clear the road gutters, gardens and graveyard on the church grounds. At times there weren’t enough tools for everyone, but it was nothing a bare set of hands (with hardy gloves on) couldn’t do! It seemed as though this was their annual ‘clear the land’ working bee as so much of the lawn was overgrown with weeds and vines, while the dirt gutter leading down the hill required some serious hoe swinging. Despite the lack of English spoken amongst the locals and lack of Thai understood by us volunteers, we still managed to communicate with smiles and through our actions!

Another day saw us painting the window sills of the church building, with much debate about the sticky efficiency of the tape (to stop paint seepage on to the walls). It was magic tape as opposed to the more appropriate masking tape. But in Thailand, you make do with what you’ve got…and it’s all good. We were told in our orientation ‘just go with the flow’ and indeed it’s too true! At home you’d go and buy some more effective tape but in rural Thailand you don’t quiet have that luxury. Watering down the paint was another ‘just go with it’ moment. Small things like this make you appreciate how wealthy, by their standards, we are back at home.

The painting escapade was a relatively easy day for us. The down-time that followed, was easily that day’s highlight - throwing hoops on the basketball court, trying to perfect a slam dunk with my new volunteer buddies.

Then came Christmas Day itself. Perhaps because we assisted in the lead-up, or they’re just friendly people in general, but the community whole-heartily embraced us, welcoming us in to their celebrations. The main draw card was the sports day held at the local school. There was a morning parade, with musical and school groups and us jumping in to circle the sports oval, kick-starting the day. What followed was a chilled out, family fun event of sack races, tyre races, tug of war, volleyball games, soccer matches and ‘climb the pole’. Anyone could get involved no matter age or ability. We all threw ourselves in to a game or two and enjoyed the laughter with the locals.   

Christmas lunch was a glorious no-fuss feast of a curry and stir-fry with steamed rice on the side. No need for complexity, enough to fill the belly and sit side-by-side with your neigbours in the church grounds. Everyone pitched in to serve and wash-up for the 400 or so villagers.

This was yet another reminder of the simple life and how content you can be. It’s all about people and the connection you make. My time with the Mirror Foundation was a never-forget experience, which took me back to earth, not only to appreciate what’s really important in life and assist people more needy than me, but also to meet some interesting and amazing people along the way.

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