By Jessica Ankers – 1 week volunteer
I spent a week here at Kindred Spirits elephant sanctuary and it was most certainly interesting! When I first came here, I really didn’t know what to expect or what was ahead of me, I just knew it was going to be an experience like know other I’ve ever lived before.
It is a four-hour journey from Chang Mai to the village and as we came closer I realized how much I was actually away from civilization. It amazed me when I first arrived into the village how different the housing was to that back home in Ireland.
Every house is built on open plain, meaning there’s hardly any doors or windows, it gave me a sense of safety because the people here seem to trust each other very much. I got the sense immediately on arrival that the villagers here share most of the things they own with each other and would give you the clothes off of their backs to help you out, which I thought was endearing.
I stayed in Tawamoh’s home stay and although there was a language barrier between us, I found her to be such a sweet lady, who just wanted to feed you constantly. you’d never go hungry in this village! Our home stay made us lunch and dinner every day and she made the nicest spicy sauce!
Hiking to see the elephants was amazing and the work Kerri and her team are doing is outstanding and so needed right now with the exploitation of elephants in the tourist industry in Thailand at the moment. It gives people the opportunity to experience seeing the elephants in their natural habitat.
One of the best experiences I had in my short time here was going to an English class for the local women here. It was really inspiring to me to see how these women would come together and try to learn and educate themselves. A few of the women had children there and they all work very hard either in the fields or at their homes, yet they still found time for education.
There was one woman there that was able to recall English phrases and translate them without even writing them down! It was just an amazing experience seeing people living such a different life to myself, talking, laughing and learning together. I honestly found it inspiring and it was a highlight for me on this trip personally.
All in all, although there were a few aspects of this experience that I found challenging, such as insects and a complete change in lifestyle, I am humbled that people can still in this day and age live such simple lives and can be truly content in their life.
As for the Elephants, while I was on the hikes it was clear to me that these elephants are able to enjoy just being their wild self. One of the elephants, named dodo was transferred to KSES because he was so aggressive. Seeing him in his natural habitat now, he is completely changed and is such a calm elephant and it’s so amazing to see the change in him, it’s hard to believe he’s the same elephant.
Due to this organization, they have been spared from spending their whole lives as working for people’s entertainment and in the end that is what makes KSES such an amazing place!