Summer Week One

It’s been a slow start in Thailand, but that’s the nature of development work, right? We’ve been working on building relationships with the hill tribes and talking to them about the needs of their communities. Well actually, our country coordinators have been talking to them, but we get bits of translation along the way and get filled in later!

Everyone always offers us water when we come to talk to them. This is a much bigger deal than in the US because they can’t just get water from their faucet; it had to be purchased. One of the villages gave us so many extra fried bananas that we could barely eat half of them. It’s amazing how generous people who have so little economically can be.

The first village we visited was one that HELP has worked with in the past. They are doing well enough now that when we asked if they needed anything, the leader of the village directed us to other villages nearby that need more help than them. When I look at their village, I see so many things that are different from my own lifestyle and I don’t understand how they can be content with that, but I have to remember that forcing our own ideas on them would hurt them more than help them. There is something beautiful about how simply they live. We can learn as much from them as they can learn from us.

This is why this period of development work is so important: Building relationships, assessing needs, discussing solutions with the villagers. All of these things need to be solid before any quality development work can occur.

We are now in the phase of writing project proposals. I’m working on a proposal for a hill tribe called Huai Bu. They have an inconsistent water supply. They have plenty of water during the rainy season, but when it hasn’t rained for a while, they run out. Jeff and I are proposing to dig dams in the mountain stream to try to control the flow of the water. Other project proposals include public health lessons in different villages, building playgrounds, growing saplings, and building clean restrooms.

While we haven’t started any long term projects, we have done a few service projects.

We started fixing the road to Jatjusi because it was really difficult (almost impossible) to drive up it. We spent a morning moving dirt around and filling in the large holes in the road. 

We taught a health lesson about the importance of using bathrooms and washing your hands at a village called Maenawang. Then we showed all the kids how to wash their hands.

We’ve also done some English camps at schools nearby. We even taught one at the hot springs!

We’ve also helped out building and painting some playgrounds. The Thai people working with us really knew what they were doing!

Things I’ve learned so far:

  1. Using a hoe is much harder than it looks.
  2. Thai people are so generous and they’re always ready to help.
  3. Language barriers are hard, but it’s amazing how much you can communicate without any words.
  4. Don’t eat the red peppers. They’re just there to flavor the dish.

Thanks for reading my random thoughts about this crazy adventure.

--Marissa Burge


*All HELP blogs written by volunteers reflect the beliefs and thoughts of that volunteer and do not necessarily reflect the organization's outlook. For any questions about HELP International's official stance on any topic, please email us directly