PCEC learns what it means to be a volunteer

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Linda Heil and Sarah Chagri provide their views on what it means to be a volunteer. They pointed out that true volunteerism should be motived by what can be contributed, keeping privilege in check and remaining committed to the task.
Linda Heil and Sarah Chagri provide their views on what it means to be a volunteer. They pointed out that true volunteerism should be motived by what can be contributed, keeping privilege in check and remaining committed to the task.

The November 10 meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club began with the MC introducing two lovely young ladies from Germany. These two ladies, Linda Heil and Sarah Chagri, are volunteers working with Pattaya’s Human Help Network Foundation Thailand (HHN), whose main purposes is to provide help and support to underprivileged children or who are homeless, abused or come from broken families.

Taking turns in the presentation, these young ladies, aged 19 and 24, gave a well-organized talk using a clear to understand Power Point punctuated by appropriate video clips. The three-part presentation consisted of 1) the motivation to volunteer, 2) how they actually got to Thailand, and 3) a precise overview of the divisions and work of the HHN itself.

Sarah Chagri answers a question from the PCEC audience about their role as volunteers as Linda Heil, her co-presenter looks on.
Sarah Chagri answers a question from the PCEC audience about their role as volunteers as Linda Heil, her co-presenter looks on.

They provided their views on the motivation for volunteering abroad and the specific mindset that they believe is necessary to make a meaningful and sustainable contribution to the projects of a charity organization. They reminded the audience of the concept and reality of privilege (unearned access to special things). With a chart of checkable boxes for such categories as white, male, able bodied, class, heterosexual and cisgender (being confused or worried about what gender you are), the argument was made that many in the west are indeed privileged. The danger, they cautioned, of this position of privilege as it relates to volunteering to help the needy of the world, is falling into the trap of the ‘White Savior Complex’. This is seen often when the badly motivated volunteer takes ‘selfies’ with themselves in the middle surrounded by the poor underprivileged they came to rescue. True volunteerism they pointed out should be motived by what can be contributed, keeping privilege in check and remaining committed to the task.

They mentioned that the sending organization for them was the German Federal Ministry of Economic Development and the German Red Cross. These organization provided the training, monetary support and connection to the HHN here in Thailand. The HHN is a multifaceted organization whose main job is to protect, educate, feed and in many cases, house abused or endangered children. It is estimated that 53 acts of child abuse both physical and sexual take place in Thailand each day. Despite their hard work and broad outreach, they pointed out that HHN only reaches about 4% of the children in need in the Pattaya area.

They highlighted the various operations of the HHN, including a mobile unit outreach going to local labor camps of migrant workers and local school to teach about the dangers of abuse and trafficking. They use a card game of role playing where adults are pitted against children to enlighten the children of the enticement dangers of abusers and traffickers.

Another is a drop-in center, a notable pink building located in Naklua where children on the street or in danger may come and where labor camp children are brought for a day of training, good food and fun game interactions. This outreach training center is where Linda and Sarah spend a lot of their time teaching English and interacting with the children.

An important arm of HHN work is their Child Protection and development Center. This program consists of small housing units of 5 or 6 children paired up with a trained social councilor to simulate a regular home environment. The children who live in these units have been abused, trafficked or come from rejected home situations.

Although the HHN is well funded, it all comes from individual company or individual donors. They are in a building project now to expand their training facilities and can use any help both monetary and physically that anyone can provide.

MC Ron Dittmer poses with Linda Heil and Sarah Chagri after presenting them with the PCEC's Certificate of Appreciation for their presentation on their volunteer service for Pattaya's Health and Human Network Foundation Thailand.
MC Ron Dittmer poses with Linda Heil and Sarah Chagri after presenting them with the PCEC’s Certificate of Appreciation for their presentation on their volunteer service for Pattaya’s Health and Human Network Foundation Thailand.

The interest in the topic was evident by the number of questions and comments provided by the audience at the end of the presentation. To learn more about HHN and their activities, visit their website at https://www.hhnft.org/.

The presentation was followed by the Open Forum where questions can be asked or comments made about expat living in Thailand, especially in Pattaya. For information on PCEC activities, visit their website at pattayacityexpatsclub.com/.