By Jasper Thomas – 1 week volunteer
The village that Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary is in, is located 4-5 hours west of Chang Mai. To get there we went in a pickup with seats in the back. Once we got the village we got our bags out of the truck and met with the people that ran the organization. They brought us to our home stay which was a very simple building normally made out of wood. There is no normal furniture in this building just two or three rooms. There was a main room for living which was just an open space and two bedrooms with doors to separate them from the main room. The beds in there weren’t as you would think – mattresses on the floor with a mosquito net that surrounded the bed – simple but comfortable!
After we put our things in the house and got settled in we went to the basehut. Base is a place where the organizers and visitors get to hang out and work from. When we got there, we were told the rules and general things that were going on. We then watched a documentary on the elephants and after all that we went to dinner. At the homestay there are no tables, so we sat down in a circle on the ground. One of the rules in the village was that you couldn’t put your feet near the food. We chopped the vegetables that we ate, and my brother cooked them in a pot. It was delicious and after supper we went to sleep.
At first, we found it hard to sleep. This was because there were many noises that where waking us up. For example, there where chickens, dogs and lizards all making a lot of noise, but we got used to it after a while. That morning we had breakfast and started the hike to the elephants. After about an hour of hiking we came across the elephants. The elephants acted differently to the elephants you would meet in captivity. They wouldn’t come straight up to you and just generally acted wilder. After a few hours being there we had fed them and had a very Thai lunch made by the mahouts (elephant caretakers).
My favorite thing I have done so far is working with the children of the tribal village. On Tuesday afternoon there was a little project planned the idea was to have an educational treasure hunt. How it went was that we were in groups of 2. Each group would have a different learning game and we were situated all around the village. When the kids would finish a game, they would be given a clue that would tell them where to go next. When we went to the first meeting area there where many kids there. Kerri put them into three groups of 4 – 6. It was a lot of fun interacting with the children and hopefully teaching them a little English on the way. At the end of all the games all the children met back at the house that we started at. Before the hunt started we sneakily went to the local shop and bought a lot of candy for the kids. Kerri got them all to sit down, they all looked confused. We then brought the bag out and all started to spread all the candy out equally.
After this the children seemed as happy as can be. They all left with massive smiles on their faces. In the process of the games there seemed to be teams forged up in the groups, it was mainly boys against girls. Me and my partner noticed that the girls where more intelligent than the boys. This shows me that the boys all over are mainly more boisterous and the girls are more attentive. Another thing I noticed is that all the kids where extremely friendly and had great sportsmanship. It portrays of what type of people they are. It was a lot of fun teaching them.