Thailand Water Project 2018
Report by Ann U, Year 13
After several weeks of preparing and growing excitement, we finally started our journey to Thailand for the 2018 Thailand Water Project. On 26 June, twenty boys and girls travelled from Gordonstoun to Aberdeen Airport, from where we flew to Heathrow then Bangkok and finally to Chiang Mai. After a 21 hour journey, we finally arrived in the resort in Chom Thong, where we were staying for the next two days. This allowed us to get used to the temperature and meet Jim, the founder of the Pakanyor Foundation, and the rest of the people we were going to be working with for the next two weeks.
During those two days we went to the Chom Thong market where we could buy wellies and fishermen trousers, which ended up saving our lives during the trip. We were also able to visit a village that had been given water tanks previously, which enabled us to see the massive difference this had made to the villagers' lives.
Then on 30 June the day finally arrived that we had been waiting for for several months; we drove to our village! After our arrival, we went straight to the water source carrying each a bag of sand, which would be used to make a dam.
The villagers’ current water supply was at quite limited but consistent, which was useful as we were able to use that water for laundry or showers. However we were going to be giving fresh water to the newer part of the village which was situated about 800 meters outside the part that we were staying in. This meant that every day we had to walk about seven minutes to the water tanks in order to start working. This however allowed us to appreciate our surroundings even more. Sadly, most of the villagers had to work in the paddy fields, so we weren’t able to get to know them as much as we would have liked but once we began to meet all the villagers, we quickly discovered that they are the happiest most generous bunch of people we have ever meet.
When it came to building the water tanks, some of the villagers helped and, despite there being a language barrier, it was still somehow remarkably easy to communicate. It involved a lot of hand movements, smiling, singing and laughter, which made the work more fun.
During the first week we were able to build a dam around the water source and put in a filtering system; lay the pipes all the way from the source to where the tanks where going to be situated; build a base for the tanks using cement and big stones; build two rings of the tanks and build a scaffolding made out of wood and bamboo. During the second week we were then able to finish up the tanks by building two more rings and putting a roof on top of it; Sarah and I painted the sign for the tanks; half the group built a road in the village; and alternating groups went to visit a school nearby to teach the children for a couple of hours.
Seeing the finished water tanks gave all of us an amazing feeling of accomplishment and made all of the hard work totally worth it! Our day of departure came quicker than anticipated. The villagers had made each one of us a Karen top to show their gratitude. It was an extremely emotional moment, which none of us will ever forget! It was so satisfying to know that we were leaving them with clean fresh consistent drinking water.
Being able to work with the amazing people from the Pakanyor Foundation, who dedicate their lives to make other peoples lives better, was definitely one of the best experiences ofour lives. The villagers we met were probably the richest and happiest people we will ever meet, which was very eye-opening! I can’t thank Mrs Barton and Mr Lyall enough for having given me this opportunity and will never forget the amazing three weeks I spent in Thailand with the best group of people I could have asked for!