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Chiang Rai and Mirror Foundation by Lena Tran


Sawadee kha from Lena reporting for the Haithai cohort! Last week, we were staying in Chiang Rai at a nice hostel which was provided by the Mirror Foundation, a non-profit organization that focuses on ethnic minorities from the region of Chiang Rai. It’s mostly an organization that helps people who are stateless provide jobs and gaining citizenships which is a long and slow process.

The Haithai cohort helped build a fence and a flag pole for the kiddos from a Tai Yai comunity which was a success. The cohort spent long work days and fun times chopping bamboo sticks and shaving them in order to build the fence and flagpole, pretty fascinating don’t you think?

The first day of arriving at the village, right away I was excited to meet my homestay family. I actually took my first pooping experience on a squat toilet that was in the restroom floor, it was a weird but good experience in my opinion. Every morning, we would meet up, eat breakfast, and go see the kids at the daycare center near the village and spend time with them before heading out to work on the fence for the new school. Overall, my favorite part of the experience was seeing the kids, eating many traditional Thai food being served by my homestay mom, and meeting Chetah, who was a student and intern for Mirror foundation.


The day before we left, in the evening we all had to get ready for the string ceremony. Where we ate dinner on the ground laid out by a plastic mat for everyone to sit on and enjoy the night. Some kids in the village performed a dance for everyone to see and it was just a cute and amazing performance. After dinner, we offered the villagers a gift which was when the string ceremony began. There were nine villagers sitting in a circle and each one of the cohort members would sit in front of one and let the nine villagers bless all of us with a piece of string which have been said to wish for good luck, good health and other good things as well.

During our time with Mirror Foundation, we gave a huge thanks to Pi Manop who was our guide and a good friend/brother. Pi Manop helped us with everything, from getting us sleeping bags and mosquito nets for the night to serving us ginger tea and shared laughs.  He is a good hearted person who treated all of us like family. Our time with Pi Manop and the families in the village reminds me of a saying from Lilo and Stitch which is “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” We ended our goodbyes with a cute funny video of all of us on the first day of arriving at Mirror Foundation and being recored for all the hilarious moments that were captured. When we said our goodbyes, it made me realized what an amazing experience I had with Mirror Foundation and that I would come back and volunteer with them more in the future and am blessed to meet each person who was apart of the organization.