My name is Yong. Now I’m 28 years old but I was 24 years old when I participated in long term volunteer project in France.

I was a volunteer in Service Civique program, which is supported by French government. The organization that I worked with is called Citrus. It is in the south of France, about an hour from Toulouse.  

This was my first time living aboard for a year. It was challenging in the beginning. I carried a lot of fears and worries. But once I arrived in the project, I felt much better with a warm welcoming from the staffs and also other volunteers.

About working, we worked together between volunteers and insertion workers. Most of the time, we cleaned or renovated the train station. Apart from this, we also host the groups. When we hosted the group, we worked together and also cooked together. It doesn’t sound difficult but it does. Cooking for a big group of people was one big challenge of our voluntary service. At the end of my volunteering year, I also took part in the workcamp. I led teenagers’ workcamp with 2 more leaders. Workcamp leading helps me a lot to be more patient and flexible at the same time. I experienced a few hard situations and we had learned from them. Moreover, we worked also with teenagers in the village. There was a club named “Bouge Ta Bogue”. We organized some trips outside and also some cultural activities with teenagers.

About living, we lived together in volunteers’ house. There are 3 bedrooms, one for girls, one for boys and another for guests. It sounds simple but not actually. Washing dishes was always our issue. We had a meeting every Friday with our mentor to organize and discuss our daily lives in the house. Imagine living together all the time for a year, it was not easy but in the end, we end up to be really close friends.

After this one year experience, I found myself growing up a lot, for sure not for my physical aspect haha. I had learned how to open my mind for the strangers, how to adapt and compromise when they were hard situations and also how to be confident and make a decision when it needed. I had learned to believe in myself and my abilities. This volunteering experience gave me a chance to learn that voluntary service supports us to discover about the others and (the big part is) to discover ourselves. J   

DaLaa is a strong and beautiful flower from Southern Thailand which can pop up and blossom everywhere around. It is usually pink but can be white or red variety as well. Moreover, it can be eaten in “kao yam” salad and cooked with other dishes too. It has a strong taste. Would you like to try it?

DaLaa organization was founded in 2004. Our birthday is October 20th, at the date we gathered for our first workcamp/seminar. Most of us having had good experience in international volunteering, and believing in its value for our society, we followed our dream to create our own volunteer organization, starting from nothing but friendship.

We wanted to support initiatives, especially for the people (and children) living in the countryside of Thailand, for example the villages some of us come from. We wished that volunteers from Thailand and from all over the world to work together with the local people. In this way we hope to create more friendships and understanding between each other. Also by doing voluntary work, people get a good experience in working out of their heart, sharing and learning other ways of doing things, speaking English, learning Thai and having fun together.

We organized few workcamps (2 weeks each) in 2005, mainly in partnership with local schools, always happy to welcome foreign volunteers.

In 2006 and 2007, workcamps were becoming more regular, we organized other kinds of projects like agriculture, environment, renovating schools and we could pay a small salary for one of us.

Then in 2008, we took a bigger step. We started to experience with Middle and Long Term Volunteers and we were getting quite a lot volunteers in our workcamps. With the money saved, we could start to grow up with 4 paid staff, working in a real office and had a full time workcamp leader. It is this year that we got officially registered as an association.

Since beginning of 2011, we are focusing on a few MLTV placements; the workcamps are often held in MLTV sites to support their activities or to get into contacts with new communities.

DaLaa relies on the local knowledge and wisdom. We are well aware of the local needs and challenges.

Little by little, we could create a strong network thanks to powerful hosts and communities.

In 2016, we moved our office from Hatyai city to the countryside, and nowadays we are trying to build our own community on the side of our office work, we call it VSC, Voluntary Servcie Center/Community. It’s the open gate for new interested people to become volunteer.

Let’s break the barriers and fears in ourselves, let’s support authenticity, let the human be, let the nature be, let’s become responsible and autonomous, the path toward freedom, let’s join and support these network of active communities working for social growth and environment preservation. Let’s be part of it. Let’s include the good will people we meet on the road.

Let’s join hands to create the world in peace we all deserve.

I am Ayano Minoura, 21  years old, from Japan. I volunteererd for 3 months in Koh Sukorn.

The main activity there was agriculture, especially we did gardening (organic vegetables), harvesting rice, fishing. Besides that we also visited the kindergarten and organised activities for the children. But for me I can say that the biggest task was to learn Thai language actually.

Through my volunteering, I saw a totally different lifestyle from the Japansese one, and it was a really good opportunity for me to rethink about how to live, about my future life. And the biggest thing that I realized was actually that I am a person who prefers to live surrounded by nature, than to live in the city! And now I know how to live more happily!

One of the biggest challenges for me was to learn the Thai language. Since there was no English speaker on that island, I had no choice but to speak Thai! I managed this difficulty thanks to other volunteers’ help. I don’t have a tough mind enough to overcome this by myself.

My best memories – working, learning, living and eating together with the local people, and with other international volunteers. It was so simple life there but at the same time, it was the most happiest time in my life. I surely would recommend anyone to be a volunteer.

My name is Sofia, I’m 21 and I’m from Portugal.

I volunteered for 2 months in the South of Thailand, in the province of Nakhon Si Thammarat. I was living with a self-sustained Buddhist community and helping in the daily-life activities, learning how to cook and plant and a new way of teaching and learning by doing.

In my volunteering I learned that my Occidental lifestyle and way of thinking is way different than Thailand’s, for example. Life is very simple, and there are no extra worries. Thai people are very nice, funny and uncomplicated. I tend to think a lot about a lot of things, for a very long period of time, and I am very impatient. I learned that about myself while living there: because I didn’t really have much to do, I had to reinvent it by myself, without any stimuli. That’s when I realized that when you’re closer to nature and yourself, you tend to be more and more creative, and be curious and handy. Some things I found unpleasing on other people, such as their calmness or slow way of doing things; it only made me realize how I was a rushed person, both physically and mentally. It was a wonderful exercise to get to know myself and my surroundings.

Regarding my challenges, I have a swelling chronic condition that became worse in Thailand, because of the heat and humidity. It was a little bit hard to handle, which sometimes led to tears and frustration. But I tried to pull myself up every single day because I knew I was living a once-in-a-lifetime experience and even after all those ups and downs, I realized a lot of things internally that I want to see changing.

One of my brightest memories was from one day when I was very bored and decided to take off a neighbours’ bicycle for a 3-hour ride around the village. I walked through places with beautiful and nice people working and resting, kids playing with what the nature gives them, dogs, huge spiders on their nets on the lightning points… Until I reached a pathway near a river by our house with plants all over from different species. And I felt so free that day, so enchanted, so… alive! That I just thanked every living being, and whoever created it, for being so perfect. This volunteering was very different from what I was expecting, but it was so raw, so natural… It was the best decision I ever made.