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Testimonial from

My name is Jonny and I spent my summer of 2018 at the GVI Chiang Mai project focusing on elephant conservation. I wasn’t aware of GVI’s overall development goals. I chose the GVI elephant project as I am a huge supporter of wildlife conservation and elephants are my favourite animal. I couldn’t have imagined that the project would change me as much as it did. Seeing the environmental work that the team in Thailand do is so worthwhile and the seeing the results they have achieved is amazing. I know that when GVI started their programme in the village of Huay Pakoot it was a much different place. Some early pictures show how the village was filled with litter and GVI have since introduced bins around the village. The team in the village do a weekly litter pick on site and are helping to educate the volunteers and villagers on how to better dispose of their waste and produce less waste. The base in the village has six bins all for different waste. One for general waste that is collected by a waste disposal team once every 2 weeks, one for cardboard that is burnt for fire tinder, one for cans and one for bottles which are sent to a recycling firm. Any fruit waste is placed in a compost heap. The other two bins are used for separating food waste, one for rice and one for other food. The rice is fed to the pigs in the village and the other food is fed to the dogs. These disposal methods are used to eliminate the amount of waste and to also eliminate any waste of resources. Since returning home from the village I have become much more aware of reducing waste in my own life. I understand the importance of not using plastic carrier bags anymore and will only use bags for life now. I have bought a metal straw which I take out to use for drinks. I check products I’m buying to make sure they don’t contain palm oil. These are just a few things which I have learnt during my time in the village. I was taught the importance of looking after our environment and the ways we can conserve it. Another great development goal that is being achieved by the GVI Chiang Mai team in sustainable and decent work and economic growth. The village was a much undeveloped place when GVI first started there. Due to the constant flow of volunteers it means that the village has a constant new income source changing on a fortnightly basis. When GVI started in Huay Pakoot there was one shop. The village now has 5 shops, a restaurant, a smoothie shop, a coffee and internet café and a launderette. All of these businesses have been set up by the people of the village to provide them with a new source of income as an alternative to farming. GVI support this in all aspects of village life. For example, as opposed to buying a minibus or truck, they employ the villagers to drive volunteers to and from Chiang Mai. The village of Huay Pakoot is constantly growing thanks to GVI’s help. I believe that two new restaurants have opened up in the time since I left the village. The part of my volunteering experience which I enjoyed most of all was the community aspect which involves attending the local school to teach English to the children from the village. In my opinion this is one of the most important development goals; a quality education for all. During my time in Huay Pakoot I took part teaching all grades in the school and loved every minute of it. I was given the chance to plan my own lessons and get the reward of teaching these amazing children how to communicate better and give them a better chance to expand their horizons and go further with their education. The skill of speaking English is very important in the Far East as it can give people greater career prospects and allow them to access the western market. Being part of a team giving children the skills to speak English is amazingly rewarding and allows you to learn some of the language spoken by the villagers. The base in the village has a variety of medicine and first aid supplies that are there in case of injury or accident but these are also used to treat any villagers that become unwell. The staff in Huay Pakoot have given up their own time to educate the people of the village on how to better look after themselves and keep good health. Overall the village of Huay Pakoot has developed so much since GVI has been there. They are contributing to achieving the majority of the UN’s sustainable development goals and are helping the people of Huay Pakoot amazingly. They are making life on land better, they’ve introduced sanitary water stations, and they have helped with quality education, they have virtually wiped out poverty in the village and are also promoting well being and good health in the village.