In March 2020, I travelled to Thailand to volunteer with GVI on the healthcare programme in Phang Nga. From the moment I arrived in Thailand I was in awe of its natural beauty, and this really got me excited for the coming weeks. Southern Thailand was such an amazing location to be based, with ‘free’ Friday’s every other week allowing a 3-day weekend for travelling further afield, such as to Khao Sok National Park, or even a short city break to Bangkok. Life on base was busy, sociable and a whole lot of fun! It was clear just how well respected and valued GVI were within the local community, who definitely saw GVI to have become an integral part of their village, being regarded as locals rather than tourists.
The staff were all full of energy and enthusiasm, really adopting the ‘work hard, play hard’ attitude, meaning that time spent on project was productive and although at times, challenging, always fun and so rewarding. The healthcare project included a variety of activities – from conducting basic healthcare checks to those in the community and other local towns, to preparing and conducting healthcare workshops. I really loved how much input I was able to have in terms of the running of the project as a whole, but always under the guidance of the incredible staff. All the staff and volunteers alike were so welcoming, and within only a few hours of arriving, I felt really that the GVI base had become my second home (despite the 35-degree weather!). Spending evenings together on the local, tourist-free beach watching the most beautiful sunsets, or all joining in on our weekly quiz night was a great way to unwind after a long, but enjoyable day on project. Within such a short space of time, I managed to forge such close friendships with the other volunteers, for which I am so grateful.
On returning home, a frequent question I received was “Would you do it again?” and the answer is always a resounding yes. The skills, friendships and memories taken away from any GVI project are ones that will last a lifetime, and I cannot recommend it enough. No qualifications are necessary, just a strong sense of passion and desire to commit yourself fully to all project work, and you are guaranteed to have an experience that you will never forget.