Each homestay on GVI’s elephant project has its ups and downs, and each one is a little different. Some have more roosters to wake up volunteers in the morning, some cook really well, some are more friendly, and some have masses of small children running around naked.
For the past three weeks, I have been staying with Aruchor and her family, which includes Aruchor, her husband Pah-Nu, her three young children, and several other adults whose exact identity I have yet to determine. There is no question that I lucked out in my placement in a homestay; this family is amazing.
Aruchor is thirty years old and an amazing cook. She is very good at judging how much spice a volunteer can handle in the food, and I haven’t yet had a dish that was too spicy (or “hairh,” in Pakinyoh) to eat. Although she doesn’t speak any English, she is a very kind and gentle person who is always willing to listen to my fumbling attempts to communicate. Every time she sees me, she asks me how I am, even though I don’t know how to answer in any way other than the Karen equivalent of “Fine.” She never gets frustrated when I don’t understand her, which is usually the case.
Her husband, Pah-Nu, smiles and laughs a lot, and, like everyone else in the village, he works very hard. Pah-Nu and Aruchor have three children: Poh-Duh-Lo (10), Yay-La-Poh (7), and Krie (2). Krie is the only son. He loves to run around without pants and with a very serious expression on his face. Yay-La-Poh is very shy, and I think I’ve only seen her up close once or twice. Poh-Duh-Lo, on the other hand, is very friendly. I see her sometimes at the school, and like most of the children, she speaks a very small amount of English. She smiles with the same dimples as her father, and she loves to play games and practise English with me.
Between the kindness of the family and the comfort of the accommodations (I practically have a whole house to myself, and a bathroom with a tile floor!), there is not much question that I won the lottery of the Huay Pakoot homestay. – Anna W