Posted on 29 Feb 24 in Uncategorized

Liberty has been in Mae Hong Son for over 3 weeks now and you can read her ‘Day in the Life’ diary below!

Day 1:

“I arrived in Ban Mae Um Pok last night. The village is sprawls out over the valley and the KHT team had arrived earlier and were already hard at work constructing latrines for the households. I was introduced to the villagers and a little 6 year old boy was helping by scrubbing the tap of the new latrines and was very happy to show me his work!

I had arrived in the evening, so I helped with the dinner preparation in a house with an open fire. The homes in the village are on raised stilts, a very common design for Karen houses and the rooms have both bamboo and wooden planks. It feels as though you might fall through the bamboo, but I told myself I was being overly cautious and everyone else was not scared to walk over it.

After chopping vegetables I head to the sink to wash them. there is a ‘crack’ and my foot goes right through the floor, followed by most of my leg! The vegetables I was carrying scatter and I am left sitting on the floor looking down at the hole my leg has disappeared through. Everyone rushes to see if I am alright (I am, just severely embarrassed) and I pull my leg back up out of the floor and clear up the vegetables. There is now a foot sized hole in the floor but not to worry! Whilst dinner is cooking lengths of wood appear and within 15 minutes the hole is repaired. Feeling slightly less embarrassed about it all, I sit down to eat.”

Day 2

“We headed to Ban Mae Um Long Noi to do baseline case studies for the irrigation project which began 4 days ago. I had already spent time in the village volunteering on the construction of the water system so the journey was familiar. We had packed food and snacks with us and arrived at my old host family’s house as my house mum was hanging out yarn to dry. Each section of the woven yarn is shaken and threaded of a bamboo washing line. A second bamboo pole is threaded through the bottom of the loops to ensure they dry straight. She had dyed the yarn two colours: a baby blue and a muted red. After she had finished, we headed to the irrigation project site in the truck. The car can only take us part of the way, so we have to walk much of the way and the Karen collected ferns and tadpoles for eating.

We wandered along the edge of the tiered corn field and over two stiles and then followed the river until we arrived. The KHT irrigation team were constructing a metal frame in the river and a little further on the villagers were also working to collect rocks. I took off my socks and rolled up my trousers and joined them. Squatting in the shallow river, I collected rocks into a bucket, getting slightly soggy in the process which isn’t a bad thing considering the day was hot. It reminded me of playing in the sand at the beach. At 11.30 we walked a little way to the hut where we then cooked lunch. Eggs, rice, fish and noodles were on the menu and I also tried bamboo sticky rice. The rice is cooked inside a bamboo stick and when cooled, the hard exterior is hacked off leaving the rice in the soft part of the bamboo.

After lunch, the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Pim, began her interviews and I returned to helping on the dam construction. We then headed back to the village for dinner and I was able to meet more of the people I had met during my stay in the village. I was sad to leave, but happy I could come back to see everyone. We also were given a bag of ferns to cook the next day!”

Day 3

Back in an Ban Mae Um Pok, I woke up early because the chickens nesting nearby wanted to make sure everybody knew they were awake. Pim made Pad Thai which is really very tasty. We packed lunch as we would be up in the hills working on the water system. A pick up truck was loaded with pipes and we followed not too long after. On the way we picked up and dropped people off around the village and then at the end of the road I walked with the KHT team and the village headman through the forest.

Thankfully it was early so not too hot and there was shade from the trees. We walked a long way to the water source, and I am normally quite clumsy but I was careful not to slide on the sandy soil or trip up on the rocks. We complete testing of the water, which means scooping up some of the water and carefully adding it to a measuring bag along with a reacting powder. This is then poured into a special bag and sealed. Pim records the date, time and location and we carry the samples back down. 

Then we begin digging the pipeline with the other villagers before it is lunchtime. This is a good time to meet more of the villagers and I was able to meet two women and their cute little babies. I hadn’t fully grasped how many people were working when we headed back. There must be nearly 40 villagers also volunteering and the work was hard as the ground is dry and solid. A pick up truck arriveD with a crate full of oranges so there are breaks in between the hard labour! Then watermelons were distributed too. I get myself involved in a plot to conceal the fact that we have got more than our share of watermelon with a couple of villagers who find it all very funny. We eat the fruit sat along the side of the road in the shade. I felt like I had not worked very hard today but I definitely had fun!”