This is Åshild, the manager of Aay’s Village. In the last couple of weeks, I have been feeling an extreme feeling of gratitude in my body. I think it is because it is under a month left until we can celebrate 1 year since the launch of our volunteer organization in Aay’s Village. They say that start-ups almost never make it to one year, and we are almost there. Well, I can say for sure that we will be around for more than a year. How? First of all, we are needed in Laos. The children and community have embraced our vision, and our study groups are always full. We have thousands of children in need to reach out to, and we need to work even harder next year to meet those needs. Second of all, we have now developed a strong, secure and engaged organization with 7 amazing individuals who strive, every single day, towards bringing children in Laos the tools they need to create the future they deserve. This little team has done tremendously important work for a rural village in Laos, and oh how this community in the jungle deserves that someone spends their time on helping them instead of using them. Year with civil unrest, undetonated bombs still lying around from the Vietnam war, a government who forced them to move away from their resourceful homes, and promises which were - well, nothing more than words.
I cannot comprehend how I have been so lucky that I get to work with this organization, this vision for the future of children in Laos. I cannot believe that I have not given a dime to any of our volunteers – we haven’t even had a small party, nor a coffee on the bill of Aay’s Village. Our team is dedicated to having zero costs in administration and marketing of our organization, and I am just so so so so humble and grateful. This small gest surely makes me believe in the good in people.
It’s a strange feeling, working voluntarily. I thought that I would contribute if I gave a little money each month to the biggest non profit organizations. However, actually helping with my hands and brain and energy and all– it’s a feeling I hope everyone will experience somehow. There has been a lot of talk about helping – do you do it for the ones you help or for your own – is the purpose only to feel good about yourself? After almost a year in Laos, I can say for certain that helping does not always feel good. It is so hard that it feels impossible at times. I’ve cried and laid down ready to give up, done tons of mistakes and really embarrassed myself several times. I’ve come to the conclusion that this work is not for anyone who wants to feel good about helping. I’ve come to the conclusion that the good feeling you get once in a while, when improvements are made and your plans are a reality at least – that’s the payback of all those shitty moments when you wanted to give up. We, the volunteers in this world – we deserve to feel good about volunteering once in a while. It’s what’s gives us the energy to meet yet another day and work hard towards our goal; to be able to provide children with the tools they need to create the future they deserve. I’m rambling a bit, but I thought it might be worthwhile to write down my thoughts and not edit them too much. A sneak peek into the daily life of a volunteer.
So, we have survived a year so far. What is next? Our plans include stabilizing all our routines and organize everything to its fullest potential so that we can always offer the children a quality education. Second of all, we now try to get money to hire another teacher. We REALLY need one more resource to teach our 120 children. We have exciting plans for the future, but for this year 2 of our life in Laos, we will focus on continuously creating a sustainable model and organization – something that can help more children in our village and maybe even in additional places in South East Asia? Who knows what the future has in store for Aay’s Village. I know that I am ready for the challenges ahead, but I also know that we need the help of you. You can contribute in so many ways. The only thing you need to do is to send us an email on www.aaysvillage.com, chat with us on social media or contact us in any other way. We are ready to find your place in Aay’s Village together with you. I can assure you that it is a very bumpy ride, but it’s the best ride you’ll ever jump unto.