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Today, pictures from valued commenter satby.
I thought I’d share some pics from my recent volunteer vacation. I was in a group of 12 “over 50s”, all women, at the Elephant Project outside of Surin Thailand and at a rural village in Cambodia outside Siem Reap. You can read about the Surin project here: https://www.saveelephant.org/surin-project/
but the gist is that it offers the tribal elephant owners an alternative to subjecting their animals to inhumane labor.
In Cambodia, we had two linked projects in the rural village, either teaching English in the local schools or helping build toilets or houses for the local villagers. They normally used pit latrines in the jungle, so these were greatly valued contributions. So is teaching English by native English speakers, which offers better employment prospects. I’m certified as a TEFL/ TESOL teacher, so that’s what I did.
My adorable kindergarten class.
Taken on 2018-02-08
We had a lot of fun, worked on pronunciation and they also taught me a few words of Khmer. The teacher is only 19, but very good. She’s a graduate of the school’s first class and attends university at night. She worked miracles with almost no supplies.
Taken on 2018-01-30
This is Nun Loc, one of the elephants at our homestay. She loved bananas, and liked to have you put them in her mouth. She was very gentle, but we never went near her or any of the elephants without her mahoot nearby. That’s him looking on.
Good morning Baby!
Taken on 2018-01-29
Nun Loc’s little brother was a scamp. They had to keep him on a chain even though they had built him an enclosure because he liked to knock down the fence at night. And when you were out of bananas to feed him, he would slap your hand with his trunk to show his aggravation.
Preparing dinner for the elephants
Taken on 2018-01-31
We helped feed the elephants by cutting bamboo grass. A full grown elephant eats about 300 lbs of food per day, so it’s a continuous job keeping them fed. Our group paid the farmer for the truckloads of grass we cut, it was another benefit for families in the project.
Taken on 2018-01-29
Twice a week we walked about two miles down to the river for the elephants to swim and get washed. The elephants always enjoyed it, and we had to watch to make sure an enthusiastic elephant didn’t decide to roll over on us.
The walk to the river
We all walked, even the mahoots.
The Elephant Graveyard
Taken on 2018-03-29
While we were there, our host family suffered the loss of their oldest elephant, at age 50. Elephants have Buddhist funeral services that are similar to ones for humans. The funeral was here, outside the temple at the graveyard, and he was buried here. It was very emotional, though his death had been anticipated the family was still devastated.
Just…wow. My mother had a deep affection and sincere love for elephants, and because of that, instead of flowers, I asked folks to make donations to the African Wildlife Fund as they do great work, especially with elephants. And yes, I realize we’re looking at Asian elephants, who are also endangered. As my mother lived for a few years in Africa and I was born there, we have a stronger bond with them than these gorgeous beauties, and I haven’t researched Asian elephant charities.
Thank you so much satby, do send us more when you can.
Travel safely everybody, and do share some stories in the comments, even if you’re joining the conversation late. Many folks confide that they go back and read old threads, one reason these are available on the Quick Links menu.