Hi everyone! My name is Shamira, and I am doing an international alliance internship in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This is my first time posting here, but I’ve only been here two weeks so far, and so far it has been a rollercoaster ride. 

I volunteer at the Wildflower Home which is a grassroots organization that caters to battered women and their children. The organization provide a wide diaspora of resources, including (but certainly not limited to) a shelter, job placement, daycare facilities, training, social services, and skill workshops.  There’s always so many things for me to do when I’m there. My general schedule has been working in the fields in the morning helping turn over the rice fields and hoeing the soil in the rainy season to prepare for a new crop (which is surprisingly hard labor, especially with sun beating down). After lunch, which is always made on site in the kitchen by the women based off of the subsistence farming resources, I teach two english classes, one for more advanced students, and one for beginners. The latter class has definitely been challenging, mostly due to my limited knowledge of the thai language, but it has forced me to pick up some thai relatively quickly, which is always useful.  The extent to which the women strive to learn such a hard language is admirable, and definitely motivates me to work as hard as possible. Afterwards I help out a bit at the office, helping draft memos and petitions that need to be written in english, and looking over the kids at the daycare.  All of these activities have given me so many different valuable experiences and perspective that I know I will take back with me to the States.

I have only been at my worksite for two weeks, and I have already gotten so much valuable experience. One of the major things that I have gain is such a respect for all the opportunities that I have received. Most of the women who are at the shelter are around my age, and are on their second child, and sometimes even third. One girl is fourteen years old at the shelter, and her child is one year old, and a product of sexual abuse with in the family. There are also a pretty large number of vietnamese refugees, which I wasn’t expecting so much as Burmese or Laos.  A lot of them have come through so much tragedy and suffering that I cannot even fathom, and they still make it through every day trying the best they can. Also, I’ve discovered that it’s a lot harder to fight for the rights of these women in Thailand than it is in the US. Unlike in America, there isn’t as much direct legislation enforcing the illegality of violence against women and children, which makes it really hard to make it an enforceable crime, and hard to get government funding and support for these women. A large part of my memo writing has been proposals to start a new royal initiative for programs such as the Wildflower Home to cater more effectively to the needs of the women. Currently, the organization largely functions on donations, and while they have done well thus far, there have been unfortunate losses due to a lack of adequate resources. For example, some women have had to send their older children to ‘children’s homes’, or orphanages, simply because they had nowhere else to take them and the Wildflower Home lacked enough resources at the time to assist them.

I have already gotten so much from my short time here so far, and can’t wait to get more involved in the Wildflower Home. Also, the city of Chiang Mai is beautiful, and I am loving my time here taking in the sights! I’ll try to keep making regular blog posts and update everyone on my time here.  

If you want more info about the Wildflower Home, you can check it out at http://wildflowerhome.net

Hope everyone is having a great summer! 

Best,

 

Shamira Ibrahim

Washington and Lee ’11

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