Testimonial from

My time in Huay Pakoot was truly life changing. Although I was only there 2 weeks, the experience had such a powerful effect on me that I have decided to return to take part in a six-month internship. I believe I made a difference in the program and that I could freely contribute my ideas and use my unique background. I’m excited to resume this incredible opportunity. GVI has made a monumental impact on the elephants’ and villagers’ lives. The elephants are now semi-wild in the forest as a part of an elephant herd, which may include their own family members. Being around elephants in their natural environment was an amazing and special experience. I felt a real connection to the elephants. This is the true way Thai elephants should be observed, not in tourist camps. It is vital to provide education to others and tourists, so that they can support ethical elephant tourism. The mahouts can now care for their elephants in a different way and are also able to live with their families in Huay Pakoot. This alternative livelihood has brought the community closer together. The staff, volunteers and interns, the villagers, and the elephants were so welcoming that I genuinely felt like a part of the entire family. I loved being able to communicate with my host family in their native language, to basket weave, make bamboo cups, eat dinner, teach, and experience daily life with the villagers. It was extremely enjoyable to eat lunch in the forest with the mahouts, which they cooked just using bamboo tools. I learned a great deal about elephants, conservation, biodiversity, and culture of the Karen people. I want to continue to learn, to research, to educate others, and bring my own skills to incorporate into the program. I am grateful for every moment I had in Huay Pakoot. The GVI elephant program has been transformative; I have learned to follow my heart and in doing so I have found happiness.

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