Hi, I’m Cara! I’m 19 years old, heading into my second year of law with Politics in University College Dublin. I’m here in Chiang Mai volunteering for four weeks with Cultural Canvas Thailand.
My placement for CCT is in the Wildflower home just outside of Chiang Mai that accommodates single mothers who are victims of domestic violence. It is an amazing organisation run by the Sisters of the Good Shepard with the aim of teaching the mothers life skills so that they will be able to sustain themselves when they leave the home. I’m a strong believer in equality for women so when I heard about the programme in Wildflower and all that they do to empower the mothers, I knew it was for me!
Working in Wildflower the past two weeks has been one of the most incredible and inspiring experiences of my life. The treatment of single mothers in Thai culture is extremely different to what I am used to back home. In Ireland it is neither strange nor shameful to raise children as a single parent. Thai culture is very different in that the women are shunned from family and friends regardless of whether or not they suffered from abuse. This stigma surrounding single mothers makes Wildflower home all the more inspiring as it creates a warm, friendly and comforting environment. I get a very strong sense of community here as everyone is always willing to help out without a word of complaint. It is almost as though the mothers past experiences have created an unbreakable bond between them making Wildflower a very special place for anyone lucky enough to experience it.
Everyday at Wildflower is different from the rest, no two jobs are ever the same! Myself and my friend Martha who I came here with have done jobs from clearing out a mushroom shed, teaching english, minding the kids, we have even poured cement! Not something either of us ever thought we would do.. Although I have loved everyday here so far, there is one in particular that stands out for me; this week one of the volunteers from New York decided to make vision boards with the mothers and present them to the group. This was one of the most eye opening and emotional moments so far in Wildflower home as all each of them wanted in life was a family, a home, money, the opportunity to travel and proper education for their children all of which many of us take for granted back home. This experience wasn't emotional in the sense that it upset me but more so uplifting as the willingness to hope and dream was still alive in all of the mothers regardless of the difficult past they suffered.
After everything we've seen and done so far I cannot wait to see what the next two weeks have in store for us! :) Thank you!!