“Volunteering changed my life” A simple but powerful letter.
Thailand Volunteering – it really IS a life-changing experience!
Earlier this week, Bamboo HQ received a pretty incredible letter from a chap who volunteered with us last December. This letter was heartfelt, emotional and in all of our years working with international volunteers it’s about as honest a review that any of us have ever read.
Just a little piece of background on this; the chap who wrote this, and shall remain anonymous – we’ll just call him David – was originally questioning if volunteering at his age, mid-40s’, would be suitable. Did I think he would be able to live in these conditions? Do I think he could handle the heat and humidity? Would there be any opportunity for some alone-time? And so on. At the time, I had received no mention of his personal situation and so just tried to reassure him of age meaning nothing in terms of joining a project.
Having just turned 40 myself, I know that all of our projects are suitable for any able-bodied individual regardless of age, sex, religion, creed, background and so on. Quite simply, volunteering in Thailand is a great leveler. From the very rich, to the working class, the ‘older’ to the younger, each volunteer comes here with two goals in mind; to enrich the lives of those they support and themselves – fact!
So if you’re wondering if volunteering is for you and if, like David, you are in need of a break from the monotony, you have things you need to work out in your mind/life, you want a new life building experience, it matters not how old you are, it matters only how much effort you want to put in to it. That is what will make or break your volunteering experience and that is what will help you to benefit personally.
I feel that I am at the end of the beginning of a journey that started with that initial contact, when my life was at its lowest ebb. My relationship with my wife had broken down, we had been through four months of relationship counselling and not got anywhere and I was at a complete loss as to what to do. I started seeing a counsellor on my own. I had a load of holiday to use up partly due to my relationship difficulties and so I decided to go on retreat and thought of the Bamboo Project as I’d seen your posts and thought that a complete change of scenery would be good for me.
What you organised with Bow at Din Dang was perfect for me as everything was laid out for me – I didn’t need to think about what to do or what to eat or where to go and could simply concentrate on being me and getting along with the other volunteers and staff and getting my head sorted out.
It was a real turning point and I could view my situation more objectively. My time in Japan was great but I got the feeling that it would be the last time.
In January I told my wife that I couldn’t carry on with our marriage. There were some tears from both of us but the feeling was mutual. So we are getting a divorce, but we are not fighting about it. We are separated but living in the same house. We have agreed on the finances without going to court. Most of this is down to what I experienced with Bamboo in Thailand – I was able to make this life-changing decision quite calmly (it was bloody difficult though) and without any anger or bitterness.
Now six months and quite a few counselling sessions later I am really on the up and feel a massive sense of empowerment, the seed of which was implanted in the rainforests of Ranong.
So as you can see, a Thailand volunteer experience is not just for the young on their gap-years, it has had a profound effect on the life of this middle-aged bloke too!
So thank-you Steve. And please pass on my thanks to all those who were involved in making my experience what it was, Bow, your wife and your crazy helpers, all had a small part to play.
And finally – feel free to use this or extracts from it in your promotional literature. If I can encourage somebody to get the Bamboo experience for themselves then I will be very happy.
Feedback | Thailand Rediscovered Tour
Ellyn Carrol | Thailand Rediscovered Tour
“I toured with Northern Michigan University on a volunteer trip over our Christmas break. It was the most amazing experience of my life!
Our guide was amazing, I tried so many thing I never would have even noticed.
We got immersed completely in the culture: prayed with monks, bartered in the markets, and tried to figure out what in the world the street food was!
I find a reason to talk about this trip every day, and I would go back in a heart beat.
Thailand is gorgeous, the people are so friendly, and the culture in incomparable to anything I’ve ever known.
Pictures don’t do it justice, you must live it for yourself. Plus you know you’re in great hands with this group. Thanks for the memories guys!”
Reviewed 30 Jan 2014
If like Ellyn you wish to discover the best of Thailand, check out THIS and become part of something you will never stop talking about! Like it, share it, leave a comment below!
Check out our Insta-Bam snaps!
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Feedback | Sustainable House Building
Feedback from David Summers – Sustainable House Building, Chumphon Thailand – December 2013
I had some time on my hands and didn’t want a ‘conventional’ holiday as they are too much hard work, so I got in touch with Steve at the Bamboo Project and he suggested I get involved with an alternative building project called Din Dang in Ranong province. The project is about promoting sustainable building techniques and is also eventually aiming to be self-sufficient. The buildings are timber framed cob construction and the clay for the cob is best mixed barefoot! Bamboo is also used quite extensively – nice touch!
The project is run by Bow and his Canadian partner Martha and the accommodation is right next to Bow’s house that he shares with his parents, sister and niece. A typical day will start with breakfast prepared by Bow’s parents at 8am and then, after the volunteers have washed-up, we head down to the project which is a 25 minute walk or a 10 minute bike ride away.
We will work at a nice gentle pace doing whatever has been planned for that day, digging and mixing new clay, constructing new walls or decorating walls already built, digging sign-post holes or just general-upkeep work until 12 when we will break for lunch, again prepared by Bow’s family. The volunteers will wash-up again and then are free to rest, read or do whatever they like until 2pm when work will resume again until 5pm. We usually have a small break in the afternoon to drink and eat – maybe freshly harvested bananas are on the menu or cookies that the girls have made and baked in the clay oven.
After work volunteers may join the yoga classes that go on next door at the Thailand Child Development Trust place, swim in the river or just return to the lodge to shower and relax until dinner time at 7pm. After dinner has been eaten and cleared volunteers may do as they please, most sit and chat, read or update their Facebook until 9 or 10 or 11pm when it is time for bed.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Din Dang and it was a welcome change in setting and pace from my usual city office based routine. I met some friendly and interesting people at the project from young graduates taking time out after their studies to a couple researching alternative lifestyles with the aim of setting up their own community in Australia.
I was also very well looked after by Steve and all of his staff at the Bamboo Project who ensured that my journey to the project was smooth. Bamboo also arranged a post-project Bangkok tour for a couple of days and that was also well worthwhile, the local guide Mimi was brilliant and I was immersed into the proper local Thai scene very quickly. Without Mimi it would have taken a lot of time to find out about canal buses, how to deal with Tuktuk drivers and where the quickest routes between the attractions were; or maybe I would not have done some of the things that I did..
In summary, I recommend the Bamboo Project to look after your volunteer placement, and also the time afterwards, when having a local on hand really helps.
If you would like to get in touch and find out more about David’s experience please leave a comment below and either he or one of our co-ordinators at the project will be more than happy to chat to you. Find out how you or your group can join the team and get stuck into this amazing build project. Contact us today and get ready to Bamboo!
Feedback | Elephant Conservation Thailand
The Following is the thank you letter I wrote the organizers after my trip. It says it all:
I just wanted to share with you how much we enjoyed the elephant farm experience. It was wonderful. I find it difficult to decide which were better, the elephants or the people. Chin, turned out to be a pure soul and did his utmost to make sure we thoroughly enjoy our time. Oum, the hotel owner, her parents and assistant made us feel that we met relatives we have never known, and all of the elephant staff were as friendly as could be.
To support the above superlatives I want to share one specific experience with you. On Sunday, after midnight we came back from the Sunday market, to which Chin took us. When we parted at the gate to the hotel I have probably dropped my wallet onto the road. The car’s engine was running, so none of us heard it. I only found out i am missing my wallet Tuesday morning.
The whole village enlisted to try and find it. Poor Chin felt so bad he took us to the local monk, made a contribution to the monastery and had him give us instructions on how to find the wallet. People we never met would stop us on the village streets and tell us how sorry the are, the head of the village announced the incident on the village’s speaker system. We were so touched by all this that i told Jonathan (my son) that despite the fact all of our money was in that wallet, i feel it was well spent just to meet so much human goodness, care and empathy.
So to sum up our experience organized by you I would say that it was an exceptional one. You, May and Chin have all done your best to make our trip successful and we are grateful to you for it.
I hope we will have more chances to come back here and have you arrange it all for us. I would also highly recommend to all of my friends to look you up when planning time in Thailand.
Best wishes, Happy holidays and a Wonderful New Year,
Tal & Jonathan
If you want a similar experience to Tal and his son, Jonathan, then get in contact to the people who know, the people in-country right now working with these communities. Like the elephants, you’ll Never forget. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below and either Bamboo or Tal will get back to you – The Bamboo Project