Hard to believe it, but I am already 14 days into my 6 month adventure, which also means I am halfway through my current volunteering experience.
When I am planning out my trips, one month of volunteering always sounds like a really substantial length of time, but then once I get there I realize how quickly it goes by. Its only now that I feel like I am starting to connect with a few women at the center- there are 3 sisters that speak English, and I have been spending the lunch hour with them. Its been interesting to hear their stories, and learn about what their future holds. They are such warm and generous people, warmly welcoming me to their little circle, and eager to share their food with me (even though as a volunteer I am provided with a large lunch, they keep pushing me to eat more! "Try this! Have you ever had this before? Have more!"), and even insist on washing my dishes (today I told them it was my turn haha!). It is humbling to know they have so little and still share everything with someone who is basically a perfect stranger to them.
Another woman sells cold drinks every day. She keeps a small cooler of ice, which she scoops into disposable plastic cups and tops up with your choice of bottled beverage- I choose the sweetened coffee, which is delicious and hits the spot on these sweltering afternoons. She speaks a little English and is very friendly (she is the one who taught/tried to teach me how to dance!), so I like to meander over to her corner after lunch, order a coffee, and then use it as an excuse to chat with her. She says her husband speaks English fluently but doesn't like to talk in English with her because she doesn't have the same level of proficiency, and he gets frustrated. I told her I am happy to help her practice as much as she wants! I have learned a little about her past, and we talk about her little boy who was in my class while I was teaching last week. At first she would charge me 20B. for my drink, but today when I handed over the usual bill, she gave me 10B. change, and then offered me a free refill after. I think I'm making headway on our friendship ;-)
As far as the work goes, I am still working up a sweat in the stockroom, and I actually really like it! I help with filling orders to ship away, go on almost daily trips to the post office to send them off, and lately I have been organizing to my heart's content, and taking inventory. Apparently I am going to learn their computer system next week so that I can enter in the data I am compiling, and on Saturday I am going to help run their booth at a local charity bazaar.
This is not exaclty the type of work I was expecting to do, but I know that this is the help they need right now, and I am enjoying the practical hands-on nature of it. Maybe I'm not on the "front lines", but hopefully this will contribute to the overall success of the project.
In other news- 2 more volunteers are arriving tomorrow! I'm pretty excited to have roommates here at the volunteer guesthouse, and partners in crime for exploring further afield.
On Sunday I am hoping to see some of the sights of Bangkok, so check back for some photos after the weekend :)