In their final days in Mae Ai, Putney’s Service Thailand leaders reflect on the students’ impactful volunteer work, adventures, and meaningful connections.

After a week of teaching and construction, our service at Mae Ai is coming to an end. On Saturday morning, the group was split into two groups, one of which was tasked with plastering, while the other was responsible for constructing bricks.

The students in the first group worked alongside local construction workers to plaster a water tank at a school. This school had previously struggled with maintaining a stable source of water, as the location of water underground in Mae Ai has slowly deepened due too deforestation. The water tank that we helped build relieved stress from their pump and significantly increased their water storage capacity.

The second group engaged in brick construction, which consists of a variety of labor intensive tasks. By combining gravel, sand, and water they created the cement used for the bricks. They then proceeded to utilize a machine at the construction site to transform the cement into bricks, one at a time. These bricks will soon be used for various other projects meant to benefit the community in Mae Ai.

During the later part of the day, the two groups combined to continue brick production. With the increased number of hands on the machines and shovels, our group was responsible for creating over 450 bricks. After our long day of work, we payed a visit to the Royal Project Marketplace where we relaxed, drank coffee, and bought souvenirs.

On the morning of Sunday, July 2nd, our last day in Mae Ai, the group decided to partake in Thai cooking lessons. We learned to make a variant of Pad Thai and mango sticky rice. To prepare for the lessons, the group ventured to the local market to collect the ingredients for both dishes. We then observed a demonstration of the process it took to cook Pad Thai and mango sticky rice. The majority of the group was surprised about the quality of the food we cooked.

In the afternoon, the group went kayaking on the Mekong River. Prior to kayaking on the river, we conducted safety drills on a small pond. The safety drills consisted of paddling and capsizing the kayak. The kayaking was an exciting and competitive time for some and relaxing for the others! Overall, our stay in Mae Ai was a blast — we were able to partake in so many different activities such as teaching, construction, and sports.

More to come soon!

– Portia and Dan.

To learn more about our Service Thailand program, click here.