2015 was the year, we started Omakua on the field in Thailand. We have started blogging about NGOs in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, and have realised two amazing projects. While most experiences we made were 100% positive, there have been ups and downs all along the year.
Meeting amazingly dedicated people
For our blog we focused on meeting small scale NGOs, and have met so many dedicated people. Saovenee Nilavongse from the Friends For all Children Foundation, who dedicates her life to disabled children, in only one to mention.
We had to change our strategy
While our initial plan was to meet people in need during our travels, we rapidly realised that is not as easy as imagined – at least in Thailand. Most of those being in need do not speak English, and many not even Thai. Further, Thai people do not necessarily voice their needs, and it is difficult to know who needs what. We changed our strategy and cooperated with NGOs which have been in Thailand for many years, and which know the needs of the people. This was a very good alternative.
Projects – two successes and one setback
We thought to be able to realise more projects in one year, but as it turned out identifying needs, setting up a cooperation with other NGOs, and preparing and realising even a small project takes a considerable amount of time. For working in Thailand, one must be patient.
Both projects we have realised have been an amazing experience. Worachai Intakaew who works for the Community Development Centre in a village close to the Burmese border, and with whom we worked on the project “A bathroom for Jun” has been the most committed partner we could have asked for. Further, working with the CDCE on project proposal writing has been a very interesting experience for Lisa.
We also learned that development work can sometimes be frustrating. After weeks of effort, our third project “Sunshine for ARK’s dogs” has been cancelled four days before its realisation.
Religion does not make people good – people chose to be good
Before coming to Thailand, we imagined that Buddhist people are keener to humanitarian work, even though their main motivation might be good karma. However, most NGOs we met have a non-religious or Christian background, and were led by foreigners. The only Thai-led NGO we met was the FFAC, and the only Buddhist one the Foundation to Encourage the Potential of Disabled Persons.
We learned that many Thais consider unfortunate people deserve their faith for bad actions in their previous life, and prefer donating to temples for good karma. We have even heard of cases where monks advise against donating to charity, and call for donations to temples. It seems like Buddhism as an institution – just like most other big religions – is about one thing: Money. And we did not getting started on corruption.
We had a very happy year 2015
Thailand and its people have welcomes us so warmly, and we are grateful for every experience. We have had great support from our families and friends whom we would to thank very much <3. We had the chance to see beautiful landscapes, temples and animals, and have met amazing people. Sometimes life was busy between our respective jobs, the work for Omakua, visa-runs and immigration offices, but we appreciated (almost) every moment of it. We became vegetarians and started a zero waste lifestyle which we do to our best, giving the conditions in South East Asia. 2015 has been the year of positive change, new experiences, small and big adventures.
What does 2016 bring?
In December we have moved to Bali and will continue the work for Omakua from here. We have spent the last three weeks figuring out accommodation, visa stuff and where to get a decent internet connection for our jobs. Lesly is currently working on redesigning our website and blog which will look awesome! We are also working on a project in cooperation with Urban Light (Thailand) which will soon be presented on our website.