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Hannah Bristow

My first week in Huay Pakoot has opened my eyes to a staggeringly different but beautiful way of life. Within only a week I have seen seven elephants in their natural habitat, taught the local children at the Anuban, attempted Pakinyaw and learnt how to embrace a bucket shower and squat toilet!

I was extremely nervous during my first night in the village, advice given to me by parents, friends and doctors about six weeks living in rural Thailand were racing through my mind – making me very anxious. And once being introduced to the bathroom I was unsure of what I had just committed to.

All of my anxiety was lifted during my first elephant encounter. During this hike we walked for about half an hour up steep hills, once reaching the top of the hills we were greeted by Lulu. A gorgeous fluffy young elephant – cliché as it sounds, I was speechless. Seeing Lulu live so happily in her natural habitat confirmed I was a part of an extremely important project. On the second day I met Charlie. Charlie embodies the whole GVI project perfectly and again made me realise how important the project is.

A week later and I feel very settled in Huay Pakoot – the simplicity of life here is so humbling and the community relationships are so special.  I have also become more open minded to the Karen way of life. The last week I have met all the GVI elephants and am in awe of these beautiful creatures every hike. I am especially happy when I think about the month-old baby elephant in the GVI family – knowing this dopey, clumsy little elephant will never have to endure the conditions and slavery from generations before because of GVI is an amazing feeling. I can’t wait to carry on the project and see where it takes me.

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