“Volunteering changed my life” A simple but powerful letter.

Posted on September 17, 2014Posted by Steve Williams

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.

David’s letter

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.


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