We can all agree that Christmas is a time for giving, spending time with family and spreading lots of love. We tend to get spoilt and showered with presents, feasts fit for a king and endless boozy beverages and usually left sat like couch potatoes by about 4pm watching movies. This is all good and well, but do you ever take some time out to think about those that aren’t so fortunate?
This year, we at TruTravels decided to spend our xmas event volunteering at a junior school in a very remote and low income part of Thailand.
At TruTravels we believe that the travel industry has the potential to change the world for the better. Our vision is to unite people, companies and charities from all over the world, with the common goal of reducing the current global equality divide, whilst showing our travellers the most amazing, life-changing experiences during their time with us.
So with that in mind, when our legendary Group Leader Mickey suggested going up to a village in a very remote part of Thailand near the Burmese border and donating time and money at a very underfunded school in the area, we thought, why not? It’s certainly something different, and who knows, if we all put some effort into it we might really be able to make a difference and improve the lives of the kids and their families a bit. When we put the idea out to the team, almost immediately we had 45 members of the TruFam asking if they could be put on the list for the volunteer trip. Baring in mind there is only about 60 of us in Asia, and some of the guys had already planned to go home and visit family over xmas. This is a pretty good response rate and shows just how awesome and kind spirited the TruFam is.
Ban Huai Kob School is the main school in the village and is currently providing an education to 240 children between the ages of 4 and 12 with only 9 teachers and very little funding from the government. Ban Prarai Nok (where we went) is a smaller branch of the school with just 60 kids and 5 teachers and as such receives only a fraction of the government funding available which is nowhere near enough.
Although the school is also in some ways at the center of the community, the locals of the area can not afford to pay tuition fees or fund the school and as a result it is severely lacking basic educational equipment, falling into disrepair, and in desperate need of funding, maintenance and equipment. The school is not even connected to mains electricity, it uses a solar cell which is no longer working.
Once the plan was decided, we asked the team to think of fund raising initiatives so that we could raise a load of cash to buy much needed equipment and supplies for the school before we set out for Sangklaburi on the 17th December. Some of the fund raising initiatives included: Several of the team signing up to a 10k run in the scorching heat of Koh Phangan, Sammy threatening to sign up too, then pulling out, then threatening to do a muay Thai fight instead, then not doing that either… Delaney opening up bidding (in the form of donations) for a tattoo on her ass! (that’s commitment), Pat and Dan doing a beach clean and miraculously getting a secret sponsor to donate a massive amount to the cause. Oli is still gearing up to do his 5k swim, an lots of the team organised a clothes sale, an auction and a fund raising drinks night at Echo Beach Hostel in Koh Phangan. Plus we raised a decent amount of money through very generous past TruTravellers, friends and families via our go fund me page.
After a long days ride in the mini van we arrived at Sangklaburi, home of the longest wooden bridges in Thailand where we stayed the night on the river before heading out early by 4 wheel drive to the village where we would spend the next few days and nights. When we arrived at the school around 9am we joined in the school assembly where Mickey organised some ice breaker games for the kids, we gave some intro speeches and presented the village elder and head teacher of the school with gifts and donations. After this we split into groups and worked with different age kids for a couple of hours teaching them English, colours, animals, science experiments and other things until it was time for lunch. After lunch we had a couple of hours of sports on the main field before saying goodbye to the kids for the day and heading back to the village chiefs house.
The second day the kids went about lessons as usual and we were busy re-painting the school. Heres a before and after shot..
Thanks sooo much to all of you who chipped in! The grand total we raised was over £4000 and every penny of that went to buy school equipment, food & supplies for the village and the school, all the other costs of the trip were covered by TruTravels. Our Tru Ledge and video genius Matt has put together a sick video of the days we spent there. Check it out here. You can also check out the rest of the photos on our Facebook page here.
At TruTravels it is our firm belief that our industry, the travel industry has the potential to make the world a better place as long as companies do it correctly and behave responsibly. For this reason we have made it one of the core values of our company to operate in a way that truly benefits everyone involved including communities in the countries we travel in. So stay tuned for more updates and if you are ever out in Asia and interested in helping with any of our projects, pop us a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIG TRULOVE <3
Wanna join the TruFam? For exclusive offers, latest travel news, advice and the TruStories from the road, simply fill in your details below and we'll do the rest.