April 2-9. A week has passed since I arrived at the orphanage. I have done more during this week than I have since New Zealand. So, in that case, I’m not going write a detailed account of each day. Instead, I’m going to list the events that I have done, in detail, as well as describe the people of the orphanage. I hope this is sufficient for everyone because it is becoming increasingly difficult to find the time or energy to devote to write a day’s worth of events. There are also so many things I have done that I will need to split this post into 2 parts.
So firstly, I must describe the staff and children who have made my time here as exciting as it could be. They are all incredibly accommodating, providing me with whatever I need or they think I need. I barely sit down and start to enter a state of relaxation before they find me and suggest embarking on another exciting adventure. The only time when I am not constantly trying new things or having fun is when I sleep, but even there my roommate, Clash, wants to play games and talk late into the night.
The boys spend the most time with me, mainly 3 of them: Ekkphan, Wiwat, and Sawan, all of whom speak relatively good English. Many of them are eager to spend time with me and practice their English. Even during my daily runs, at least one kid accompanies me. The girls, on the other hand, are much shyer, although they become more accustomed to my presence with each passing day. The other day, when I played a game with the girls, they were shy in the beginning, but towards the end of the game they were perfectly fine with shouting orders at me when I broke a rule or played the game wrong. The girls also call me Miji, just as the monk children had done in China. Apparently my Thai name is also two syllables which can easily be confused. When I tried to correct them they just laughed at me and carried on with my new name, though, honestly, I find it pretty funny.
There are several Rustic staff members here, but the ones I have become closest with are Bay, Goe, and Bowjoe. Goe is Karen, while Bowjoe is Burmese. They both love taking me out to experience the surrounding town and relish introducing me to local girls from the town. I help teach the children English every day with Tim, who is valuable if I ever want to speak in a regular fashion with someone. The rest of the staff are great to hang around with, although some don’t speak too much English or are just as shy as the girls.
The community service aspect of my trip is being fulfilled every day, except Sundays which are off days for everyone. I teach the kids English with Tim at 9am every morning, educating them in everything from the word smile to rhyming words to knowing that ph makes the same sound as f. Before noon I help lug away branches that are cut from a forest near the orphanage. Bay and Bowjoe free climb 40 foot trees, with machetes in their mouths, in order to cut the branches from the top. This wouldn’t be difficult if the trees had decent footholds, but the trees they climb are as smooth as palm trees and as straight as pine trees. They both make it seem extremely easy, but it isn’t. On my second day here, I free climbed to the top of one of the trees and hacked down a branch. The climbing and the cutting left me exhausted and I barely had enough energy to slide down the trunk. I also help out with several other odd jobs, such as planting flowers, weeding the mud garden, and picking fruit, which the orphanage grows, although I sometimes take a break and eat a jackfruit or a few local berries.
Another daily routine I have fallen into is playing soccer every evening with the kids and staff. They destroy me in skill and it’s hard to say if I even make a difference to any team I am assigned to, but it’s still plenty of fun. Soccer seems to be their favorite sport here and every local is skilled at it, although they do love another sport just as much it seems. Kaneball (the American name for it) is a sport they play avidly at the orphanage. It’s similar to volleyball, but you can only use your feet and head. I’m hopeless at the sport, yet I watch and learn all the same.
The food here is amazing, but can sometimes be unbearably spicy. I need to pay for 1 meal a day, but I am provided with delicious cuisine for every meal. At first, it was uncomfortable to eat specially made food (everyone else eats different food which is cooked in bulk), but since I started to learn to make my own meals and cook them myself, I feel much better about eating the food. The Rustic cook has taught me to make several Thai meals and I usually help her cook them when I’m not busy. I’ve learned to make paka poa, sweet sticky rice with mango, yellow curry, green curry, bla lap pri, and several other dishes.
And so, this ends the first part of the list of activities I’ve done during my first week at the orphanage. Tomorrow I’ll post part two, but don’t be surprised if there is a part 3. I will probably be reminded of more things I have done since I’ve been here. The days have become so entwined, and everything I’ve done has happened so quickly, that it’s hard to distinguish one event from another. Thanks for reading everyone! Hope you enjoy this post.