Volunteering in Khao Lak 2011-2

Both Lynne and I have agreed to volunteer for the VTT based in Khao Lak. We will also spend Christmas here. (This was Christmas 2011/2) Unfortunately we will not be there this year.

What is VTT?

Volunteer Teaching in Thailand was set up to provide support for people  searching for genuine volunteering opportunities in  Thailand.    http://www.volunteerteacherthailand.org/index.htm

They have two teams at present, one teaches in four primary schools each week and the other teaches 12 lessons in a high school 35 km from Khao Lak. They also have a long term teacher based in the Vocational College, teaching every day in the Hospitality Department -hotel and catering. They are currently teaching about 1,000 students each week.
They use a truck to get to the schools. They always teach in teams with the lessons prepared on Mondays.  The lessons are designed to be active and interesting, with plenty of coloured A4 pictures

The more you dance round the class the more engaged the students become and the whole process becomes fun for everybody. The aim is to  show them that English can be easy, and fun. With chalk and talk they find it boring and difficult. Just two weeks of pouring energy into your classes can affect the students’ attitude toward the English language, and have an impact on their lives. Take this conversation that was had with an 18 year old young man in the local Thai bar,

“Teacher, I buy you beer” (this lad shows promise) “Before volunteers come, English boring, too difficult. Volunteers come and I start to listen English teacher.  Now I leave school, (this company) sponsor me to become diving instructor. They sponsor me because I speak English. Thank you teacher”

Such an encounter is unique, but it serves to show the difference volunteers do make.

Recently a young man – whose parents paid for him to attend a dual language school – commented “You are giving these kids a great opportunity, its fantastic”

Why Khao Lak

2004 earthquake and tsunamis

Khao Lak was one of the coastal areas ofThailand hardest hit by the tsunami resulting from the 2004 Indian Oceanearthquake.  Many people died including many foreign tourists. The final death toll was over 4000, with local unofficial estimates topping 10,000 due to the lack of accurate government censuses and the mere fact that the Burmese population were not documented or recognized as legal residents.

Most of the coastal landscape, i.e., beaches, resorts and vegetation was destroyed by the tsunami. Some replanting programs have been initiated and a great deal has been accomplished in the rejuvenation of surrounding foliage. Studies suggesting that coastal vegetation may have helped buffer the effects of the waves have ensured that replanting and maintenance of the coastal vegetation have become a priority in the reconstruction of the landscape.

Among the casualties were Bhumi Jensen, grandson of the King of Thailand, well-known Finnish musician and TV-host Aki Sirkesalo and his family. Almost four years old at the time, a young girl was swept away at Khao Lak and remained the subject of a media-covered intensive search despite being formally identified in August 2005 as a victim.

A memorial to the tsunami victims was being planned there, but has been suspended due to questionable accounting practices

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