Posted on 08 Mar 24 in Volunteering

Liberty has been in Mae Hong Son volunteering in 2 villages and helping our team in other ways. We have loved hearing about her experience and her final diary entry is below:

“You have heard of overnight oats, now it is time to up the breakfast game with overnight bamboo fish! All you need for this simple meal prep is fish, bamboo, a saw, some wire, a fire and a bit of forward planning. So today for breakfast I am eating bamboo fish. It has been cooking all night inside tubes of bamboo and is now ready to eat. It was very tasty!

After breakfast, work begins. I am shadowing Pim who is completing baseline assessment interviews. This involves going to different houses around the village to talk to the villagers. I get to see how different each house is: some are small and square, some are big with lots of sections and levels, some with open sides or bamboo walls. They are different heights with the area underneath the houses being used for storage or keeping animals or parking a motorbike. We walk to the first house we visit but on the way to the second we have acquired a couple of motorbikes. It is a large village which is quite spread out. The houses are more dense closer to the big road where there is passing traffic of people, motorbikes and pick-ups. I am gifted a traditional Karen shirt by some of the villagers. Traditionally, the shirt pattern with vertical stripes is worn by a man, but times are changing it seems. It is in a beautiful fuchsia colour¬† After conducting the interviews and passing by the water team who are hard at work, we return to the host family’s house for lunch. Because many of the villagers are working either in the fields or on the water project, we cannot conduct any more interviews until the evening. What better opportunity for me to learn Karen weaving. The set up is complicated because the weaver is tied onto the weaving so that you can create tension in the threads by moving your body. It is very confusing to begin with and I require constant guidance. I am switched from weaving a shirt to a bag which is narrower and easier to work with. I get into a pattern and suddenly it doesn’t seem so difficult. I am still quite susceptible to making mistakes which I need a little bit of help to fix but it is rewarding to see the threads turn to fabric as you work. When we switch back and I watch the villagers weaving I am even more impressed with the speed and skill of their weaving. They make it looks so easy but my experience suggests otherwise.

The next day there are more interviews to conduct. An older lady with 3 beaded necklaces and a bold pair of earrings attached together by another string of beads is the first interviewee of the day.
After spending the day with some of the villagers Salahae arrives in the evening to take me and Pim back to Khun Yuam. Before we leave we have dinner with the host family: fish, bamboo noodles, cucumber, stir fried vegetables. It comes to time to go and the rest of the KHT team help us to load our bags into the back of the pick up. The headman comes to say goodbye and thank you to us. He doesn’t speak much English (and I don’t speak much Karen) so Pim translates. I am struck by how grateful he is and what a massive impact this project will have on the lives of all the villagers meaning they no longer have to travel to collect water. I am so proud to have been a small part of this amazing project. I say goodbye and we get in the car and off we go.

My month volunteering with KHT has been so varied and exciting. I got the opportunity to see 3 different villages and while each one was different in each village the villagers were so kind and friendly. I got to take part in such a valuable project and I am so pleased to have done a little bit to help the lovely Karen people.”

KHT’s volunteer programme is not only an important way for us to fundraise for our projects, raise awareness of the Karen and their lives, but it is also a great way to show solidarity and learn about too often ignored and misunderstood indigenous rural people.

If you would like to get involved, you can complete our online form today or email today!