Ban Koh Lone School – my Snapchat Story

Earlier this week I visited Ban Koh Lone School on the small island of Koh Lone, just off the coast of Phuket.  The island was devastated by the 2004 tsunami.  I went along with 2 colleagues to carry out some preliminary checks before we go back in a few weeks en masse to redecorate the library and the 2 classrooms still in use.

It’s been over 10 years since the tsunami hit and I would hate to see what is left of this place left to rot and ruin.  I’m really looking forward to helping out this small community – a little bit of help can make a big difference here.

Here’s my Snapchat Story from the day to give you a feel of the condition of the school and this island.  Apologies for the poor camera quality, I will be taking proper kit with me when we go back to do the volunteer work in a few weeks.

A to Z of me: V is for…

V is for VOLUNTEERING.  It may seem pretty boring, but it has been a part of me for a fair few years.

I have volunteered in some way, shape or form for about ten years.  The benefits of volunteering range far beyond the people you are directly helping; I even landed a couple of jobs out of volunteering so it can sometimes actually PAY to give a little first.

I have volunteered in youth centres, making cups of tea in the evenings or being a kind ear to a worried teen.  When I climbed Ben Nevis I was volunteering on a week youth camp in Scotland.  I’ve helped out at church events (and I’m not a religious girl or anything) and been on litter picks along the Cornish coastline (although they were always repaid with free food!) but the main voluntary service I have been part of throughout all of that is the Girl Guides (10th Falmouth Methodist to be precise).

I loved helping to run guides, especially as I was at the same unit that I went to as a young girl.  I wasn’t the best guide, I got in trouble a few times and I left early when I got too cool.  But I had been a rainbow, brownie and then guide so the uniformed services were a big part of my childhood and were something that I wanted to give back to.  It was only a few hours a week but out of those few hours I got to help enable a group of lovely girls have something positive to do.  Like I said, I’m not a religious girl and so some people are surprised to discover that I spent every Tuesday evening and some Sundays at the local Methodist Church, but our particular unit isn’t religious itself, other than the fact that we use a hall in a church and take part in spceial church parades every few months to fly the flag alongside the other uniformed services.  We spent most of our time playing games, doing crafts, looking at issues affecting young girls today and generally being a lovely happy group of people.  I got to go on a really fun regional camp (yes, camping, moi), and take part in plenty of outdoor activities and local community events.  I also got to meet countless fellow leaders, all helping out for their own reasons but also sharing a common theme – we were doing it for the girls, because without voluntary leaders, there would be no uniformed services left, it’s that simple.

The worry of losing young people on a trip is made slightly worse by being on the highest peak in the UK and walking into the clouds!
The worry of losing young people on a trip is made slightly worse by being on the highest peak in the UK and walking into the clouds!

When I came to Thailand, I had hoped to be part of guiding out here but it is nowhere near the same – it operates as part of school hours and isn’t voluntary – the girls don’t choose to participate, they have to.  When I visited home a few weeks ago I went to see my old unit and it was really nice to see the girls and lots of new faces too.  They had all brought books for me to bring back to Thailand so I now have a small library which I will be setting up at school for the students to dip into if they want to – how nice is that?

Volunteering can only mean giving a few hours a week or even month, but the positive affect it can have on you, the people around you and your experiences makes it worth every minute.  If you can, get out there and help in any way you can!