Shining our halos

Trip Start Sep 01, 2010
1
103
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Trip End Jun 18, 2011


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Friday, March 18, 2011

Well…where do I begin?! First of all, sorry for the long delay with the blog entries, we have been incredibly busy lately and I have massively fallen behind with our blog; I've got 8 entries that still need writing, so don’t worry they’re all on their way just as fast as I can type!

We have had loads of things happening at home recently, so here’s our list of family congratulations: happy birthday to my mum and elder sister Rachel, I miss u both so much and can’t wait to see you. Best wishes to Tom’s dad who, after 27 years of searching, has finally been reunited with his birth mother. Amazing news! And huge congratulations to my beautiful younger sister Sarah, who got married on 4th March, you looked absolutely stunning. We love you all so much and are looking forward to see you when we get home.

Today was our final day working at the charity in Phuket. We can’t believe how quickly our time here has gone; it only seems like two mintues since we first arrived. We have worked so hard during or time with ChildTRAC and I’m really proud to tell you that by the end of our last day we had prepared all the information and resources needed for the charity’s first ever long-term donation programme! We did it! We can’t believe that in the space of a month we managed to achieve something so amazing. Since we first started planning the project it has changed slightly and is now called HALO (Help A Little One) and is more of a long-term donation programme rather than 'sponsor a child’. Basically the way it works is: donors sign up to give a regular monthly donation of 10 a month, this monthly donation is called a HALO Gift and in return donors are given access to an exclusive website that Tom has created, which is full of photos and videos of the children, newsletters, school reports etc. It has taken Tom almost 3 weeks of hard work, learning new skills and staying up until 2am most nights to get this website made, but he has managed to do it and it looks amazing. I would give you the web address so you can have a look, but as its been created only for donors you need a username and password to access it. He was also thrown a slight surprise when, 2 days before we left, he was told that the website had to be re-made into Dutch! Despite being given such a huge task and such a tight deadline, he did it and I could not of been any prouder of him. The charity has never before had the ability to take long-term donations off people but now, because of our hard work, they can. We are bursting with pride at what we have achieved.

The money which is raised by HALO will be used to help a local orphanage called Home & Life, here in Southern Thailand in a place called Khao Lak. Some of the children at the orphanage lost their parents as a result of the 2004 tsunami, while some were placed at the orphanage because their parents can no longer afford to adequately care for them.  We got a chance to visit Home & Life during our time in Phuket and it was not what we were expecting at all. It sounds silly but whenever I think of the word ‘orphanage’ I think of something along the lines of the film Annie or Tracy Beaker… I couldn’t have been more wrong about this place. Home & Life is more like a giant care home than an orphanage; the children are cared for as a family, they all go to school and live and play together like brothers and sisters. There was a really positive atmosphere at the orphanage, but despite this they are really really struggling to fund themselves. They are trying hard to raise enough money; they have a great coffee shop on site which brings in a little money from passers-by, they sell cookies and bread that the kids have made at the local market, they have volunteers who come and help care for the children and maintain the buildings and they sell t-shirts decorated by the children. But it just isn’t enough. They are struggling very badly to pay their bills and feed the children. This is why the money which is raised by HALO is going to help the Home & Life Orphanage. I don’t want to use this blog to try and convince people to sign-up to HALO, but if you think you can help then please check out the websites at the bottom of this entry.

After our time with ChildTRAC came to end we went out for a goodbye meal with our supervisor and the other volunteers; we enjoyed a beautiful sunset down on the beach and then settled down to a great meal at one of the seafood restaurants on the sand. We had a big surprise when our supervisor pulled out a thank you gift for us! She had made us a scrapbook with full of photos taken during our time in Phuket. She had filled the book with photo, quotes, images and written a thank you letter on the front page. We were so shocked and overwhelmed that we really had to choke back the tears; it was so thoughtful of her, we will always be grateful for such a wonderful gift.  It was the perfect end to our time with ChildTRAC.

Over the following few days we decided to take some time out to relax and recuperate in Phuket before we started travelling through the rest of Thailand. We have another 30 or so days left on our Thai visas before we need to leave and we intend to make good use of them… but first we needed a few days to catch up on all the sleep we’d missed and to plan the rest of our time in Thailand. We also wanted to explore some more of Phuket before we leave; for example, there is a huge Wat (Wat is the Thai word for temple) across the road from our accommodation which we had never even visited despite living 10 feet away from it for almost a month. So we went to explore around the Wat; it was a baking hot day and the humidity was insane, but the Wat was beautiful and was our first ever visit to a Thai temple. Immediately we noticed how different Thai Wats are to all the other temples we have ever visited… basically they are very golden, very shiny, very jewel-encrusted and very glittery! After our visit to the Wat we spent a day or two going to the beach down the road from our guesthouse and enjoying going for a swim in the crystal clear water.

It feels very strange doing ‘travelling’ things again because we have been static for long, but the time is definitely right to get back on the road. To get the ball rolling we booked ourselves onto a day tour of some of the tropical islands around the Krabi area for the following day and then went out to celebrate with our first meal alone together in ages. We went to a really nice seafood restaurant nearby that is set in a treehouse and has vines and waterfalls tumbling down into the restaurant. They also have a huge projector screen and they show nothing but music videos by ‘divas’ like Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Cher, Shakira and Celine Dion. I thought it was great…Tom wanted to throw himself out of the treehouse, but it was only for one evening so he managed to survive it. The food we had was amazing, it probably sounds really sad but here is the menu of what we had to eat: mega spicy papaya salad, sharing platter of breaded mixed seafood, king prawn Pad Thai (fried noodles), squid red Thai curry, rice, 2 extra large beers, a pineapple smoothie and 2 iced coffees. All for the huge price of….12! It was amazing!! But we couldn’t move a muscle after we’d finished eating, it was the most food we’ve eaten in ages: a great way to celebrate getting back on the road and travelling again.        

ChildTRAC: www.childtrac.org

Home & Life: http://www.homelifethailand.net/
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