As my summer here in Thailand is coming to a close I have been reflecting on my experience here. This has been a truly incredible summer and one I will never forget. I just want to say thank you to everyone who donated and helped me get here. You contribution means the world to me. Being able to serve the people here in Thailand has brought me true happiness and memories I will always cherish. I have been terrible at keeping you all updated so I though I would share with you just a few things I have learned this summer.
For starters I have learned why Thailand is called the land of smiles. These people are some of the most incredibly hard working selfless and happy people I have ever come across, especially the hill tribes we work with. It amazes me just how loving and kind all the people we have worked with here are. Some of these people have so little but would never hesitate to offer us water or food or anything they had. I think we can all learn a lesson from these hill tribes. We live in such a selfish world; a world where people will do anything they can for personal gain. Out here is a different world, everyone comes before you. Your door breaks and you don't have the funds to fix it? You can count on your fellow villagers to come to your aid and pitch in to help. It really has made me realize I am happiest when I put others before myself.
Nothing has made me happier than seeing the excitement and appreciation of the hill tribes as we complete projects. It is such a good feeling knowing I am helping to improve the lives of people here. All of our projects start as ideas so watching them develop is so rewarding. It takes many behind the scenes hours to make these projects come to life from researching, to budgeting, to planning. I am really excited about all the work we have completed here so I am going to do my best to explain some of the projects we have worked on this summer.
The tea and bananas projects has been one of my favorite projects of the summer. I got to have the privilege of being a project lead and seeing it from start to finish. The village were we have worked on this projects is called Santad, and it is my favorite hill tribe. The members of this village are very happy, but they lack innovation to change their living conditions. Paa on the other hand (one of the village leaders) has a broad vision for how to change the poor condition that the average village member lives in. He learned how to plant tea in China and has been planting them for about two years now, and he is already seeing the financial benefits that come from planting and harvesting tea. He sees this project as a long-term project to slowly raise the average income of the average family in their village. Fourteen families that have invested on this project. Paa is certain once the other villagers see the benefits they will do the same for themselves. As these families grow tea and bananas and learn to sell and then save the extra income that will come in, they will be able to greatly improve their current living conditions. One of the best parts about this project is watching how invested these villagers are in it. We have provided them with the supplies but they have done all of the back breaking physical labor to make it happen. For this project we have picked and planted tea plants, planted banana trees, built a pipeline from a water source 1 kilo away, built water storage tanks, and taught a finance class. I also got to teach the families involved the finance class. In the same village me and 3 other volunteers painted 4 wall murals. Three of the murals are bible stories (the village is christian so they requested it) and the last one is the mountains of their village. Below are pictures of Santad. The kids there are my favorite.