Expect the unexpected

By 5 years ago
Categories Phang Nga
Playing with the volunteers…

When I first started my projects here at Baan Nam Khem, one of the projects really grabbed me, this was Camillian. Working with the Camillian center started off as a health care project; how I got involved in it was just a twist of fate, basically meaning that I had some free time off. I got offered if I wanted to go and play with some of the children, and I accepted.

We had been visiting for a while wen we offered to teach the staff some English and they all jumped at the idea! When we started to teach them they came with some of the older children, which we thought was great. But when we asked the children why they were there, the answer was ” we were told to sit here, and listen”. This I thought was really disappointing, as we thought that they were learning because they wanted to. Then the staff started coming less and less, just leaving these three disabled boys with us to learn. This is when the project of teaching them actually started. 

My job was to only teach one of the students which was the oldest (aged 16) but what could I do about the other two, I couldn’t just isolate them off. So I started off with basics, that would gradually be built up so that they would be able to form sentences. So far all the students have learnt ordinal numbers (1st-31st), days of the week, months, emotions, human body parts, and description of people (hair + eye colour). Next they will be learning opposites and items of clothing.
Looking at what they have learnt, it could seem small compared to what you would teach at one of the schools here. However, you need to remember that two of these children have never been to school; and one (the oldest) had to stop at the age of ten. None of them have been mentally stimulated, or learnt in a structured way in a long time. 

My goal with these three students is not just to teach them here at Camillian; it’s to get them thinking and analysing, to improve their quality of life and to get them to be more independent. But it is mainly to give them a chance to better themselves, by learning some basic English.
Not everybody is cut out to do this type of teaching. You need to have a lot of patience and persistence, and the confidence to teach. You need to make it fun and interactive: with their lack of full mobility, this makes the planning of ‘games’ harder but you just have to think upside of the box, and when you find something that they love (and that works to help them remember) then go with it.
creating masks with the kids at Camillian

This part of my teaching is probably the most rewarding thing that I have done in my Thailand experience, as, for me, you can see week to week the vast changes that you are influencing with each lesson .

To think that this all started off with just playing with the children, this shows that the projects can come from some unlikely places. You just have to be open and be looking for them.  

– Hannah George –