By Emmaline, IHF Voluntourist in Chiang Rai
I’ve now spent my first week at the IHF centre, Chiang Rai, and I cannot believe how much we have been up to! Firstly, I was very warmly welcomed by lovely Tess and Kate who gave us a grand tour of the centre which blew me away. In the evening, we went to the burger restaurant to hold our monthly trivia night for fundraising. Besides enjoying my knowledge being tested, it was a real treat to try one of Barry’s burgers!
The next day, Arisa took us to her villgae – home to the Lahu community. It was a fun bumpy ride through the red-soiled hills which were beautiful! Upon our arrival, we were met by excited, smiling children. More of us returned to the center later that day and all the excitement started up on welcoming our two new youngsters; Waneedta and Titiporn.
Our next day out to the river pumped us up to begin working on the old swimming pool here, where we were all heaving buckets of green water out of the new-clean-pool-to-be. Sunburnt? Oh yes. Worth it? Ooohh yeess, we bonded with our tadpol community and are half way through draining the pool! Or at least we were before the big rainstorms! We have also started re-doing the herb bed which had dried up! We have weeded it and churned up the soil. Nupon helped a lot with that and the little ones are too; they seem very curious. Now we need to go buy seeds.
One of the most exciting days for me this week was when some of the older children took me with them into the forest. They all knew their way around and showed me all the different trees and growing fruit. I felt like a real ‘farang’ (European), putting on my hiking shoes, rubbing in my sun-cream and loading up my rucksack, whilst the other kids walked out of the centre in flip flops, a knife to cut down fruit, and a simple bag to bring the fruit back!
This week has been an adventure; I am so happy to be given the chance to learn from and to bond with these talented kids!