Way back when in the summer of 2001 I spent two months living in a Karen village in Northern Thailand, volunteering with a wonderful charity: The Karen Hilltribes Trust.
When I returned to the UK I wrote about my experiences only to find that the excerpt below has been published in a new book – Footsteps to the Jungle – written by Penelope Worsley, the director of The Karen Hilltribes Trust. Check out Chapter9 Pages75-76!
“It was the women of that village that impressed me the most. I still come back to them as my heroines, true role models. I was at first fooled into thinking it was the men who command the village – they leave the village first thing and toil the fields all day while the women just stay back and tend to the children and meals. But if it is the men who provide for the village it is the women who organise it. These women were strong, practical and astute, whilst warm, kind, caring, non threatening. Nothing fazed them. They would wash, clean, cook, discipline the children. They hauled the young ones on their backs up into the jungle, came to help out on construction and certainly put us to shame with their machete skills. The matriarch herself was all seeing, all knowing, a real wise owl. Confidant to the whole village but also a watchful eye. The one everyone wanted approval from. The only person whose words the children paid heed to.
The last thing I’ll never forget about that summer is flying home to the UK on September 11th 2001. As if all that I had learned about the bonds of humanity were being put straight to the test. I took heart then in the lessons I had learned from the Karen. And I still do.”
Taking some time out and looking for a worthwhile volunteer opportunity? Look no further.