The work in Thailand is continuing to move forward and our HELP International team is stronger than ever. This past week we gained an additional volunteer, now up to seven volunteers and two country coordinators. Next week we’ll be joined be two more volunteers. This will only strengthen our presence here in Fang and the surrounding areas as the people get to know us and trust that we can help them. This past week we’ve been investing more of our time in researching our bigger projects and finding the necessary supplies for construction. One of those projects is expanding a village’s water pipeline system so that we increase the amount of water flowing down from its natural source, a spring. A key thing I’ve learned from being involved in these projects is that communication is essential in having a successful project—you have to talk to not just your group, but village leaders, previous group coordinators, and anyone who could provide valuable insight to the project. We all want the same outcome; a completed project that serves the needs of the village. I’ve been in situations where communication between team members was lacking and the consequences came back to bite us very quickly. We weren’t all on the same page about what our goal even was, some people have more detailed information than others, and we used our resources inefficiently due to miscommunications. At times it may feel like we spend too much time discussing the project and not taking action, but I fail to realize that we need to take our time and do this correctly. A botched project would reflect poorly not just on our Thailand team, but on HELP International as a whole.
Tuesday, was the annual Fang Founder’s Festival. This is a celebration of the initial founding of Fang many years ago. Hundreds of the town’s residents came together to watch various artistic displays, including dancing, singing, and a performance by the Fang Dragon. After the festivities, we visited a few nearby temples and taught a public health lesson about proper hand washing at the village Huay Buu. We have a great project lead for the public health lessons on our team—I think the public health lessons are one of the most impactful things we’ve done in Thailand so far. It is essential that the kids here learn how to take care of themselves and prevent sickness and disease. If we can enforce good habits while they’re still young, it will benefit them greatly down the road.
A regular activity we have is teaching English on Friday at two schools. We teach kindergarten through sixth grade and cover different basic topics, including body parts, foods, pronunciation, and games. While it is mentally draining to teach for 2-3 hours, it’s always very fun to interact with the kids and see how they respond during our lessons. I feel like as volunteers we have a responsibility to be good examples for the kids. I never truly understood how lucky I was to speak English until I first traveled outside the U.S. a few years ago—millions of people across the world study for years to be able to speak English. It is invaluable for business as many companies (i.e. Airbus, Daimler-Chrysler, Microsoft in Beijing) have mandated English as their corporate language. Being able to teach English to these kids is absolutely a privilege and we should take it seriously. You never know whose life you may change forever by simply befriending the people here and teaching them useful skills.
I’ve been having a great time here in Thailand. I’m learning a lot about myself and what skills I can bring to the table. At the end of the day, all that matters is whether or not we had a positive impact on the people here. We should strive each day to be able to say that we accomplished that goal. HELP International has provided me with this life-changing opportunity and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Greg Watts, Thailand Team Member
*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