I arrived in Bangkok on January 25th. 2020 and I had to wait for a 6 hour flight to Phuket with thousands of Chinese who had come to Thailand to celebrate the New Year. The Corona virus threat began to become real to me as well. I bought a protective mask and kept putting the desinfecting agent on my hands. The real panic was not far away.
Phuket I then calmed Korona virus. The virus appears here every day in a way that people use a lot of mask. In fact, I am content with just regular hand washing. The first few weeks, when there were a lot of Chinese, I also avoided going to areas where there were a lot of people.
My job has been awesome. I work for the Asia Foundation Center for Young Children in Phuket. I didn’t know what I was going to do there. I was a little afraid that I would only have to do school assistant work. However, I have to do the work that is meaningful and where I can use all the experience and skills as a physiotherapist and the coming Social Services. My boss, who is a South African woman who really appreciates Finnish education, is interested in how we use different teaching methods in Finland.
I am in daily contact with children for about one hour and observe how I can facilitate the work of teachers through functional methods. My main job has been to develop functional methods that facilitate teaching, such as PECS images and other functional methods to aid teaching. I have also made home visits to children’s own homes, as well as some of the homes in need of help for the elderly.
Teachers don’t speak English well and the kids don’t speak at all. However, the language problem goes with drawing and gestures. I guide the children with PECS pictures. Besides me there is three Thai and two Swedish social worker students, of which I have been good friends.
The school has 45 children aged between three and seven who are from very poor families. The educational center has been in the area for 20 years and many would like to have their children there, but the criterion for access to the center is poorness. Only the most vulnerable are accepted there. Children are taught to behave, take care of their hygiene, and the basic skills they need to go to school.
The parents of most children are in prison, drug users, prostitutes, or very poor. Most children live with their grandparents because parents are unable to care for them. Most children live a life where no one really cares.
From the Finnish point of view, children’s hygiene is quite horrible. Their clothes are dirty, their skin is dirty and bruised, and their teeth are very broken when they are 4 years old.
However, at the training center, they are loved, washed, given healthy food, taught teeth brushing, hygiene, basic life skills, English, and above all, set boundaries and regularity. The children who are accepted here are very lucky. They have a chance to get out of education and poverty.
The work has been interesting, but also mentally difficult at times. I endure anything that happens to adults with 30 years of work experience, but it has sometimes been difficult to deal with ill-treated children. Some children have had to wipe away tears.
I have always loved painting, and here also I have been able to carry out all the more to love a hobby, which I have not had because of the family, my work and my studies time in years. My boss here first asked me if I wanted to do a mural on the work area of the workplace. I accepted the challenge and my boss agreed to my plan. I will design the mural around the Asia Foundation Center logo. I wanted to take a picture of our four northern times of the year so that the children would learn that there is more to the world than the hot and rainy season. The Autumn Magazines will write down the names and year of the employees who will be leaving, and the Green Magazines of the summer will write the names and dates of the big children, who will stop attending the Center on March 27, 2020. It has been wonderful to do mural painting even though due to the heat I couldn’t do it for an hour in the morning.
There have also been negative things here. Traffic is something horrible and left-handed. I have been forced to drive business trips 4 km direction moped, and every day I have been quite horrified. I’ve so far survived it. The next sad thing has been the heat at work. I like hot weather and sunshine but working 8 hours working without air conditioning has been a real ordeal! I will never get used to it. My job is so poor that only my boss’s room has air conditioning. Each day I sweat for 8 hours and I drink at least 2 liters of mineral water a day. The best moment of the evening is when I get out of work and go to the pool for a swim and return to my air-conditioned apartment.
I have four children and a husband. I’ve never been a week away from them, let alone travel alone. I am proud of myself because I have survived here all alone. I’m here alone, but I have not had been lonely. I have received so many new friends, with whom I spent my free time. I’ll be here a changed, more independent and stronger personality than I had ever before. The words are hard to even explain all the things I have learned about myself here.
The most important thing I want to bring from here to Finland is the kindness of Buddhism. I’ve never encountered something like this. It has really impressed me! I want to strive to do the same for all the people I meet in the future, so it felt good. With small gestures you can make another one very happy. We Finns should care more about each other!
The other thing is greater appreciation of the level of Finnish education. It is the best in the world and it is truly valued in the world. As I have heard many times here. We can be really proud of our Finnish education!
I’ll write the rest of my blog now at home. I was forced to quit working in Thailand for the Korona pandemic. The training center was closed and I went home on my first direct flight. I’m sure I’ll be back there. I want to visit all the places I know and most of all meet all the wonderful people again.