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Care in Thailand by Tania Doganieri

Tania Doganieri – Care in Thailand

A volunteer and a child high five during a lesson

Hi my name is Tania Doganieri and here is a closer look into my experience volunteering in Thailand. I had thought about volunteering abroad for quite a few years and what was simply just an idea turned into an experience of a lifetime. The start of the year 2017 was a little difficult for me because a close loved one in my family passed away and I needed a break from work and my studies. I started browsing on the internet, searching for legitimate and reliable volunteering organisations, and that is when I stumbled upon the Projects Abroad website.

Tania spending time with children at her Care placement

Seeing that this organisation was coming to my hometown in Montreal to speak about their opportunities volunteering abroad, I decided to attend their presentation and see what they were all about. When I attended, I got to speak to a few members of the Projects Abroad alumni about their experiences volunteering and they truly made my decision easy in choosing this organisation. And that is how I decided to embark on this journey for four weeks, in the month of May 2017.

Arriving in Thailand

Tania with a young boy in Thailand

After roughly twenty hours of travelling, I finally made it to Krabi Airport and I was greeted and picked up by my host sister who immediately made me feel welcomed and like a member of the family. At first, it was a bit of a culture shock for me, as everything seemed so unfamiliar compared to back home, such as the landscapes, the language, the food, etc. However, with a positive and open-minded attitude, I adjusted to Thai customs and culture very quickly.

My host family

I could not have asked for a better host family and accommodation. My host family consisted of a mother and daughter whose close relationship reminded me a lot of the relationship I have with my mom. I cannot thank them enough for always making me feel right at home and making sure that I never missed anything. It was great staying with them in their home rather than the volunteer house because I feel that I truly got to experience living in Thailand as a local.

The centre of the town was about a ten-minute walk from my host family’s house and it was quite nice because it was so traditional. There were markets that sold really fresh food and a cosy coffee shop called May and Mark’s, which quickly became my favourite hang out spot. The accommodation was simple yet comfortable. I really enjoyed sharing a room with two other volunteers, because it was so exciting bonding and getting to know people from other areas of the world and sharing my experiences with them.

My Care placement

Volunteers play a game with children in Thailand

After a couple of days settling into my new home and with my new family, I was placed at the Klonghin Daycare Centre for my Care Project. I will never forget that first day at the school. I was so anxious yet excited to meet all the kids and teachers and I could not be more grateful for the big smiles and warm welcome that I received from them. The children were aged between three and four years old and were separated into three classrooms. My job was to assist the Thai teachers in supervising the children, teaching informal English, organising and carrying out activities, helping to prepare meals and promoting early childhood development.

I have to honestly say that working with the kids was a little overwhelming and challenging at first, especially because of the language barrier, but working with them filled my heart so much. Our daily routine usually looked like this: we would start off the morning doing exercises and singing nursery songs, then do the activities that we had planned (crafts, learning games, physical activities), prepare lunch for the students, clean up, play with the kids a little bit and then have them take a nap. Working with the children was such an incredibly rewarding experience. Their smiles and laughs were so contagious and I am so blessed that they helped challenge me in many ways – they have made me a better person today.

Volunteers run a crafts lesson with local children

The Projects Abroad staff were very supportive and exceeded my expectations. I can say without a doubt that I had their support 24/7. If ever I had a question or needed help or guidance, I knew that they were just a phone call away. What I especially appreciated was that they were very organised and were always attentive to our needs. They were so caring and had such a great sense of humour, which made it that much harder to say goodbye when it was time to leave, because they felt like family. I share some pretty memorable experiences with them, like the time we went to a temple to feed the monks, the time we learned how to cook a Thai meal, and my last night in Thailand when we had a barbecue, listened to music, played cards and shared stories together.

My free time

Young children listen attentively to a lesson

What also made my experience in Thailand amazing was the travelling I did on the weekends and the friends that I made along the way. I had the opportunity to visit the gorgeous beaches of Koh Phi Phi and Koh Samui, and visit an elephant sanctuary in Phuket where I had the chance to feed the elephants and bathe with them in mud. I also went zip lining in Krabi and witnessed the craziest sunset at Ao Nang beach with my fellow roommates. Also, I travelled alone to Bangkok and had the most amazing weekend learning more about Thai culture and visiting its stunning temples.

Final thoughts

I cannot express how blessed I am to have been on this life changing journey. I was put in many situations that pushed me way beyond my comfort level, but it was always 100 percent worth it. This whole experience has helped me build more character and confidence. Thailand has such a special place in my heart and I will forever cherish my time there.

Tania Doganieri

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