All students are on their way home after an amazing program!
Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation
Today we visited Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation, a hospital specific to the Asian Elephant, particularly those who suffer from abuse, abandonment, lack of nutrition, as well as serious leg injuries such as missing limbs from Burmese landmines. This elephant hospital is the very first of its kind, and is quite famous for its aid to a 50-year-old female elephant named Matala. Matala had lost one of her front legs from the scattered landmines on the boarder of Burma, where she would have died if she had not been taken to Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation. We had the opportunity to see Matala, and elephants in similar health conditions, walk with prosthetic legs, a medical advancement that is unique to this elephant hospital.
We served the Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation by painting fences and sanitizing the concrete flooring where the injured elephants call home. We then returned to the GLA base to the smell of fried papaya and pouring rain.
Planting at Patara
Today we helped plant rice in the paddy farms near Patara Elephant Farm. The first step was pulling the seedlings, removing the dirt from the roots, and making bundles to prepare for planting. Here Hannah and Madison are pulling and preparing for planting!
Next came the fun part! In the mud we went and planted the seedlings that will be harvested around November 10th 2014. It was a very educational and fun day!
Dreams & Teamwork
Today we all focused a lot on the themes of dreams and teamwork. The activities we did and the bonds we created today were a great reflection of that. Starting in the morning, we began by helping the Mahouts cut and plant sugar cane on Patara’s Elephant Farm. Then breaking to eat a fantastic lunch filled with grilled chicken, fresh avocadoes, and purple sticky rice served on giant banana leaves! Our feast was a great reward for our hard work. Continuing into the afternoon, we all fell in love the little six and a half week old baby elephant named Ju and his mama.
We then visited a Buddhist temple, one of the oldest in Chiang Mai. Finally, to wrap up the day we played a team building activity; we worked together to catapult a box with each of our dreams (goals) written inside out of the “lava” circle, using very limited tools and communication skills. The hard work and amazing cultural experiences we had today has helped us bond more than ever. Also unknown at the time, our sense of team unity tied in with our theme of dreams. Being able to work and communicate with everyone helped us to achieve our goals/tasks more efficiently. From what I saw today, our group is filled with amazing, hardworking leaders with a passion for elephants. I can’t wait to see how we grow together and make our own dreams come true by making impactful changes on Patara’s elephant Farm and throughout the community of Chiang Mai.
Today we had the chance to spend time and take care of these amazing elephants. We washed them, learned to check their skin, toenails, and even poop to make sure they’re healthy! In the river a few of the babies were playing and running around and it was SO adorable. I think it was funny when we rode the elephants up the rode. As people drove by they didn’t pay much attention but if that was going on in my town… people would go crazy! We learned so much today and it was the coolest experience!
Coming all the way across the planet and finding ourselves here in Thailand is really surreal. This cohort of people is the only group of people that will experience this GLA program. Lot’s of people interact with elephants, taste Thai food and appreciate this country but, this group is a moving body of young people who will get to know each other and move as unit through time. That’s one of many things I love about these sort of programs, we can tell stories that will never really paint an authentic picture that’s why all of us being here, now is so important. The real things we will experience as a group over the next few weeks are ours to take with us! Thanks for checking in on this blog!