Last post I discussed the orphanage a touched on the culture and children of the orphanage we are volunteering at. However for this post, I wantes to give more in depth information into the volunteer project itself and what I am doing at the Sri Udom Orphanage.
Sri Udom opened as an orphanage many many years ago, originally supported by the temple its monks. Since 2005 Greenway has been working as a partner organization bringing volunteers from mostly Europe and the Americas to give their time to the children of Sri Udom. Projects can include a number of different of projects ranging from construction to teaching to haircuts, and even kicking around a soccer ball. Not only does this give a volunteer like myself the opportunity to help in numerous different ways, but it gives you the ability to help children in the short-run and long-run. The short-run being activities like soccer, or playing a game. These will almost always put a smile on their face and make them feel just a little bit happier that day. Then there is the long-run which are projects that leave a lasting impact even after we leave Thailand such as new buildings, lockers, new bedrooms, running water, toilets and more (all of which have been done by volunteers over the past 7+ years).
I think that this distinction is important, and I really do feel incredibly fortunate that I am able to make a child smile or laugh, while also building something they will use for years after I leave.
Currently I am working on the stage at the orphanage. The last volunteers hsd finished pouring concrete and stacking cinder blocks to make the stage, and now for the past week I have been tiling and painting the stage in order to complete it. Now while a stage may no help them like running water or a new bedroom I soon discoverd that the stage is in fact one the most important parts of any school or orphanage. The reason, why children love to perform of course!Yet for Thai children, performing is not just performing, but a cultural exchange. It serves as a way to share their culture, thoughts, and personalities with other children or other adults in a way that they could not do through speech or writing. You never see children afraid to stand and perform in front of large crowds as their culture not only encourages it, but believes it is of the purest forms of expression.
This is nothing short of unique to the Thai culture, and to know that what I am helping build will allow children to perform, makes me want to build 100 stages for them.