My name is Thibaut alias Phu Pha, my Thai name. I’m French and I’m 20 years old. I’m studying engineering and after the 3rd year we have the opportunity to realize a personal project, the only “rule” is to open is mind and discover a culture different of ours. I wanted to be volunteer during this period because it was important for me to be useful and meet people from all around the world. The environment is for me really important so that I wanted to find a project which permits me to work outside close to the nature. I found this project in Kok Riang proposed by Dalaa association and decided to join the project to learn about gardening, bio agriculture and of course Thai culture.

I have been living in Kok Riang (Near to Hat Yai, south Thailand) for 3 months with Lung Jaeng the host, Panoi his wife, Yai his mother, Can his son and many other people who visited. Since the beginning I felt really comfortable because Thai people seems always happy, are always smiling, and Lung Jaeng family like to live with volunteers and share almost everything.

During these 3 months I learned a lot about:

Living in a community

That means living with Lung Jaeng’s family, his friends, Dalaa members, other volunteers but also with people we don’t even know. For example we are joining all the events or ceremony at Kok Riang temple and we served people, wash the dishes and try to involve people in the project explaining what we are doing in Thailand and proposing people to visit us.

We are also organizing some activities with kids, we went to the school worked on their garden but teachers wasn’t involved and not so much children join to work in the garden. That’s why we plan to organize more in the future. Some children went fro a Week end at home and it was really nice to play games and talk about Gardening and chemical and non chemical agriculture.

Almost every day some friend are visiting and sometimes working with us. It’s interesting because they are happy to share their knowledge.

And that’s because of all these people I learned so much about gardening and construction.

Gardening and construction

There are three different places where we are working in Kok Riang: the house with the garden, the second garden where we grew vegetables and fruit trees and the place where Lung Jeang is growing the rice (but I didn’t work a lot in the last one).

At home we are cleaning the garden so that everything is growing better and we can also plant some vegetables. And the other tasks are just about living together, cleaning, cooking …

At the second garden we grew vegetables, planted new trees and took care of everything by watering every day.

Then with a 2 weeks work camp we begin to build new toilet. It was interesting because they are doing everything alone and with methods totally different from European.

Thai culture

It is a peaceful and relaxing way of life where people are not creating useful problems. At the beginning it was difficult because I needed to change all my habits and almost to ‘forget’ my European way of life. But then after few weeks, I just enjoy every day without planning anything. It was always different, full of surprises and beautiful meeting.

It was for me a beautiful experience and will never forget it. But to understand what really happen here you need to come and live your experience.

So come and enjoy the AMAZING KOK RIANG.

Phu Pha

Hey there,

My Name is P Can and I was an one year volunteer in Kok Payom village from 2012 until 2013. I just arrived in Germany in my old Family after having a very emotional Goodbye from the villagers and the Dalaa stuff. Staying for one year allowed me to understand many actions and to get involved in many activities outside of the normal life of a volunteer. Here in this entry I would like to share a small bit of my Thai experience:

I remember arriving in Kok Payom. I was shocked by the fact that everybody had a single standing house. Soon however I understood that the front doors are never closed apart from the nights. I was part of a real Thai community now. And believe me this was a big change for me. Coming from a city where people run after their own business without looking to the left and the right I was going to spent one year in a village where everybody knows each other. Yes in fact you always have to assume that they are even related to each other as there are only 3 main clans living in Kok Payom by now. These Families care about us volunteers and they host us like brothers and sisters. It is difficult to understand this at the beginning, but once you live there and you see the older volunteers acting with the villagers you see that they could be mother and son. I in fact also found a second mum and dad in the village. The people allowed me to join any activity. They invited my with a smile and patiently explained me what they were doing. Than even though it is there work in the Rubber plantation or in the Rice fields they let me help them and they are pleased seeing us being interested in their lifestyle. The strongest experience was probably the language. In the first month I didn’t understand a word of what they were saying to me and so rather than speaking I had to observe a lot and communicate with sign language. Than learning Thai by myself and giving it a try in the village was the most fun, because you could see the happiness in their faces when I opened myself to them. Trying to make sentences like: “Your house is big. Your house is beautiful. I like your house!” The learning went on steadily and soon I was able to speak about whatever I wanted. This were definitely the month where it was the most fun living in the village. And on my flight back to Germany I understood nearly everything the Captain said in Thai through the Microphone.
The experience was really strong for me and I feel like I could go on telling you about it for ages. There are so many stories to be told. I have also left many documents in Kok Payom so if you will go there one day one day you might hear about me. =).
If you would like to see more photos or read about my personal experiences you can visit my Blog:
www.silvangoesthai.wordpress.com
Otherwise you can always ask Dalaa for my E-mail address! I am burning to help you and your volunteering career.

Sawaddee everyone,

Happy belated Thai New Year’s. Pi Chaba (Leslie from Belgium), one of our Kok Payom volunteers who just finished her term not long ago, has shared some of her thoughts from her voluntary service time with us.

สุขสันต์วันสงกรานต์ย้อนหลังค่ะ ทุกคน

วันนี้ เรามีข้อความสั้นๆจากพี่ชบา หรือเลสลี่ อาสาสมัครจากประเทศเบลเยี่ยมที่ได้ไปร่วมค่ายที่โคกพยอม และเพิ่งเดินทางกลับประเทศไปเมื่อไม่นานมานี้ ใครอยากรู้จักมุมมองที่แตกต่างของพี่ชบา สามารถอ่านได้จากข้อความด้านล่างนี้ (พวกเราจะแปลเป็นภาษาไทยให้เร็วๆนี้นะจ๊ะ)
Volunteer work, a story of life

It’s the second time that I am a long term volunteer, my first experience was in Kenya, I stayed there for 6 month. I thought it would be my last experience, I even wanted to live in Kenya forever but my work situation allows me to take 3 month to live again this wonderful experience but in Thailand this time.

The project was in Kok payom village and I lived in a place called Salaa and I shared this place with other volunteers. We were English teachers in 3 schools. For me, teaching kids was more a way to be with the kids by teaching them, and when you are with the kids, you meet the parents, and when you are with the parents, you are part of the village and that was exactly what I wanted.

When you know that you stay there for a short time, if you really want to BRING something to people, to the village, if you want to leave something behind you or, in this case, that kids talk English before you leave, you can be very frustrated, you can be hurt by the kids, by their lack of motivation sometimes and each difficulties you meet like “ohhhh today, what did they learn from me?” will be very difficult to accept because you want to change their lives but when you come without any expectations, except be with people, learn from them and live with them, you are never disappointed, every day, you know more about the culture, about the Thai way of life, the Thai food, everything is new and everything is surprising. Every Thai word you learn is a new way to communicate with people.

Finally, I think I Iearned more Thai that they learned English, even if the aim of each lesson was to teach them English but I’m not sure that learning English for them was so important because English language is just a way for them to communicate with tourist or volunteers. Also Thai and English are so different… I understand that they prefer learning Arabic language because with that, they can practice their religion how they decide, or how they think it’s the right way for them. Also, the international volunteers learned how to speak Thai so no need for them to learn our language.

I think to be a volunteer is not easy for everybody and can be very frustrating for people who really want to change the local life of people and it can be bad for the local people to see that volunteers want to change their way of life and it gives the idea that other countries are better than them and for me, as a volunteer, it was exactly the opposite message that I wanted to bring.

They have everything we can dream about: they live together, learn together and work together, a thing that we often forget in our countries and I was very proud to be part of this process with them.

DaLaa  Workcamp – code: 6212

Rice harvesting and Activities with Kids

SHORT DESCRIPTION

Koh Sukorn is a preserved island of Andaman sea in South Thailand. During this work camp, we will have a chance to join hands with the community members to preserve the local agriculture while we can learn about their way of living. Moreover, we will be creating activities and games with children and young people to open their views and let them learn about international culture together with the volunteers. We will need your creativity and ideas of games and activities that will create a multi-cultural atmosphere for them. This year they want to build a small, compact learning center in the activity area to give space to kids to do activities together.

HISTORY and REASONS OF THE PROJECT

Sukorn Island (KohSukorn) is a small island situated in Palian district, Trang province. The island covers an area of 14 sq km. Like every year, we will be conducting activities with communities of Baan Laem and Baan Toong. In these 2 villages, there is population of 1,200 or 337 families, of which 95% are Muslims. The common occupations of the villagers are fishing, rubber tapping, as well as agriculture; growing paddy, watermelons, traditional way of growing vegetables, and keeping livestock. In general the villagers are very generous and still remain the culture of supporting and sharing with each other. Furthermore, they also believe that paddy and agriculture is the main food stability of the village.

Already some years, a group of local researchers had been working with the 2 communities mentioned above. In one community, the village members are still remaining their traditional way of living, while in another, people started to drop their old values and turning to development from the cities. Less and less people are working on paddy fields, or growing their own food supply as it is easier to buy. Therefore, these researchers aim to bring awareness to the locals to keep their old lifestyle and revive the tradition of growing paddy, other traditional agriculture, as well as developing local rice species and doing farmer’s co-operative. However, it is sad that in recent years, the researcher group has not been much active in the effort they created in the early stage. Though we lose their part, we anyhow have successfully continued activities (mainly agriculture and activities with kids) with villagers and develop good relationships through short term work camps and middle term volunteers.

DaLaa has been involved with the villagers of these two communities since the first work camp took place in December 2013. For more information, Koh Sukorn is also one of our long-term project sites that it has offered an opportunity to long-staying international volunteers to live with a local host family through their service.

AIMS of the PROJECT

  1. – To support the initiatives of local agricultural activities
  2. – To fully and wisely utilize local resources
  3. – To be part of the communities
  4. – To let children be familiar with volunteers and learn in international/multi-cultural atmosphere

WORK AND ACTIVITIES

  • – Working in the rice fields
  • – Growing edible vegetables in the local host’s planting area
  • – Making compost, taking care of paddy field or making bio-fertilizer
  • – Creating games and activities for kids. There will be around 20-30 of kindergarten’s age and primary’s
  • – Learning and integrating in the fisherman’s lifestyle

REQUIREMENTS

The volunteers should be ready to stay in a remote area, to adapt to the local conditions with only basic facilities. Not many local people are able to speak English. Volunteers should be able to handle spontaneous working environment and constant changes in the plans. The mentality and way of thinking is very different from the western world. There will have activities with the children. To have responsibility for you, the kids and full involvement in community matters is a must. For the 2 weeks, you will be led by a DaLaa member/staff who will help to coordinate the project.

FOOD and ACCOMMODATION

Volunteers will stay at the local people house. You will need to bring sleeping bag, a small mattress and a mosquito net for yourself. The living condition is very simple than you would think. You may find it completely different than in your country. There are basic toilets and showers and a kitchen where volunteers will cook by themselves. They can take turn in daily tasks. The ingredients can be purchased at local grocery stores. It may be helpful if you bring some instant ingredients from home, so that you can share some of your traditional food with other volunteers. (No oven, only a gas and woks or pans). As mentioned that it’s a Muslim village, so there will be no pork used in cooking.

DaLaa  Workcamp – code: 6210

Mixed age (children and elders welcome)

Place: at our office, Kok Riang, close to Hatyai, South Thailand

SHORT DESCRIPTION

A week together to experience and practice the values of our association. Living, learning and working together. A mix or staff, members, hosts, volunteers, children, teenagers, young and elder adults. Community power, sharing minds, discussions, dialogues, spontaneity, agriculture, sharing cultures, an open space, a welcoming area, initiatives, ready to help, to play, to heal, ready to learn, always and eating together… voluntary spirit.

HISTORY and REASONS OF THE PROJECT

Since the creation of the association in October 2004, we organize each year a celebration. Year 2015, we had moved our office from Hat Yai to a local village known as Baan Kok Riang in order to get away from bustling city to live a simple life in the countryside. Happily this year again, the flower still blooms, we go over another step that we turn 14 since our foundation.

For more information of Baan Kok Riang village, it is located in Klong Hoi Khong district of Songkhla province, Southern Thailand. The approximate number of villagers settling in this village is about 1,200 people or 140 families. Most of the villagers own fruit orchard and rubber plantation, and nearly all of them are Buddhists. There are a few Buddhist temples in the area and lots of rubber plantation lined up on the sides of the road.

AIMS of the PROJECT

  1. To bring together DaLaa members (old and new), international volunteers, old friends, project hosts and interested people
  2. To manage our daily life smoothly in a spontaneous environment and activities, mixing all ages
  3. To promote and make understanding of our common values and IVS (International Voluntary Service)
  4. To celebrate the 15th year Anniversary of DaLaa organization

WORK AND ACTIVITIES

The ACTIVITIES to strengthen the relationship and to support the aims are roughly planned as below.

  • – Deal with the daily life
  • – Work together on the vegetable gardens ( Lung Jaeng’s Garden )
  • – Adjust surroundings around the office/the host house
  • – Create forums-discussions on “Voluntary Service”
  • – Organize activities with village kids
  • – DaLaa 15th anniversary celebration

REQUIREMENTS

Volunteers should be able to handle spontaneous working environment. You should also be prepared not to have much privacy. To have responsibility for you, the people around and full involvement in community matters is a must.

FOOD and ACCOMMODATION

We have a few bamboo huts and tents, depending of the number of people.  You should bring your own sleeping bag and if possible a small mattress. We will provide the mosquito nets. There are 2 showers and toilets in a simple Asian style. Please do not expect intensive comfort during your time at the project. We will cook rice (or noodles) 2 or 3 times a day with side dishes like curries, omelets, local leaves and vegetables. Volunteers will be welcome to cook their own food using the ingredients available there. (No oven, only a gas and woks or pans).