By Abdullah Al Ajmi – 1 week volunteer
My trip to Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary was unexpected. When I signed up to volunteer I did not expect more than taking care of the elephant and observing its behaviour, but it is so much more than that. It was a mixture of social life in the small village and forest life experience.
As we stayed in the middle of the village in a wooden hut, we had the chance to observe the daily life of the people in the village and tasting the real Karen food. It was very simple the way I imagined before I got here. Since the moment we arrived they welcomed us with a warm smile in their faces, a smile which did not disappear throughout the whole trip.
The other part of the trip is the base hut and our colleagues, the volunteers and the sanctuary staff. They were super kind and helpful. I did not know a lot about elephants and the life in the forest and how important they are to each other and to the human being. The team provided us with very valuable information about it.
Beside saving the elephants, KS team is working on bringing a better life for the village community by teaching them English which will give them the opportunity to have better jobs in the private and governmental sectors in Thailand and also it would help them to keep learning and a tool to communicate with the world as it is the most used language in the world. Beside teaching English, they provided various income sources such as: helping them to sell their handcrafts by marketing their products, hosting volunteers and interns, and changing the types of the trees they are planting in their fields beside corns.
My favorite part of the trip was when we wake up early in the morning and gather in the base hut to have our breakfast along with the staff and other volunteers and get ready to hike through the green forest with musical sound of the river looking for the lovely four elephants: Too Meh, Mae Doom, Gen Thong and Boon Rott. Everyday they stop in a certain area, but not so far away from the village. In the first day, I was very excited to see the elephants for the first time in my life. We stopped on the way to the elephant to pick up some bananas to feed the elephants.
After approximately one hour of hiking in the green forest with the help of the mahouts who spend their life with the elephants in the forest. There is an impressive connection between the mahouts and the elephants as they were listening to their voices. I really can not describe how happy I was when I saw elephants coming towards us very excited to eat the bananas we brought to them. Seeing an elephant was a dream, but feeding and touching them was like a fairytale! Although I had the chance to take pictures with elephants in that time, but I wanted to spend every single second of that time watching the elephants and their interaction with each other and their moves when they eat and contact. After we finish hiking and we head back to the base usually the staff enter the data they have collected in the elephant’s database, we had the chance to help the volunteers teaching English to the students in the small school which gather the kids of the surrounding villages. I was extremely happy helping them learning the language and playing with them.
My experience in Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary is the best experience I have ever had. The social life in the village, the natural life in the forest and how the sanctuary team are working hard to give the elephants and the people a big chance to live better life. I think people need to try this experience to be aware of how important the elephants are to rescue our planet from extinction, stop using the elephants as an entertainment tools and give them rights to live in there natural habitats. I hope I have the chance to come again to Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary. It is literally inspiring!