My good friend, Danielle, took a trip to Thailand recently. She went to do work for Habitat for Humanity, to clear her head and to refocus. There is an image that has been floating around Tumblr recently. The quote says “Whatever’s Good For Your Soul… Do That.” I’ve printed out the image and put it above my desk at work. I’m trying to get to that place in my life.
I started working with a company called Cocoze shortly before Christmas. They make coconut fiber flip flops, that not only are eco friendly and good for the planet but also help employ Thai workers and pay them premium wages.
In December Cocoze told me that they had a Kickstarter project lined up for the spring. I thought it would be perfect timing to have Danielle tell you about her trip to Thailand and share Cocoze’s Kickstarter project. Read Danielle’s story below and then click through to the Cocoze Kickstarter page to find out how you can make a difference.
I was having what you might call a midlife crisis. I have these about once a month but this one was special. The boyfriend moved out, my 40th birthday is looming and I felt like I had hit a rut in my life that I was struggling to get out of.
A trip seemed to be the perfect solution. Time out at some random beach or maybe up to the mountains… I wasn’t sure. All I knew was that I needed to get far, far away.
I like people and I like to help people so I decided to look into Habitat for Humanity. When I checked their website I saw a list of trips- Nepal in December, Niquagua in March, or Thailand in January. I was immediately drawn to Thailand, it would be the perfect way to start the New Year in a nice new way.
I really haven’t ever traveled anywhere, except for girls weekends to Kelowna or Whistler. I’ve been back east to Nova Scotia and did the Vegas and Mexico thing, but nothing like this. I’ll be alone, flying to a remote destination. I didn’t know what to expect, a foreign country, language, food and culture… Living and working with new people. I decided there was no other way to do it but to jump in with both feet.
Our build was in Rayong, a small Thai town South of Bangkok. The city is industrious, dusty and busy. I met my group of 14 there. Every one involved was eager and grateful to have the opportunity to help where help was needed. We banded together as a team and became fast friends.
The family we were building for lived in a small dusty dirty, shack with garbage and roosters everywhere. The mother of the house sews collars on polo shirts and grows mushrooms for extra cash. She had a young son and something about him immediately caught my eye, though it took me a moment to recognize what it was– The smile on his face. He was laughing and playing in the dirt, with no shoes, no toys, just creating fun with what was around him. The fact that he had very little didn’t seem to matter to him. It’s the only life he knows and he’s making the most of it. I wondered if the family knows just how different their life is from the lives of the volunteers who came to build their home? Here in our culture we complain about our cars, or TV’s, materialistic properties. These people come from nothing, we come from everything and still many of us aren’t happy with our lives and take what we have for granted.
Our stay was one week. When we left, the house still needed to be completed, we laid the floor and built the walls with bricks and mixed the cement by hand. The rest of the build was left to the Thai contractors. They tore down our rented metal scaffolding and started assembling the bamboo ones. I was amazed by how quickly and simply their bamboo went up and how the natural materials did the trick in replacing our engineered metal ones. The six hundred square foot, one bedroom house will be the home to 7 people, all in one bedroom. That’s how they like it, family close and tight.
After the build I flew to Chiang Mai to tour around the temples and then bussed up to Pai, I did some bike riding, I met an elephant, met the locals at various pubs and did a bit of soul searching, I came home 21 days later.
When I arrived home people asked me if I had changed, I hadn’t really, I’m the same person but I’ve had the realization that we need to change some things in our society. Life should be simple, we should give thanks for what we have and be kind to everyone around us. We are all human. Coming from near or far, we all have a story.
Thailand I miss you, and will be back as soon as I can or maybe you can come and help me one day.
Cocoze supplied Danielle with the above Cocoze Coconut Fiber Flip Flops to wear on her trip to Thailand. Cocoze are not only good for your soles (coconut fiber is a natural exfoliant) they are also good for your soul! Cocoze are made with 100% natural components with zero production waste (AKA they are good for the planet) PLUS they are handmade in Thailand in a small eco-friendly factory that employs Thai workers and pays premium wages.
Cocoze just launched their Kickstarter program. Click through to find out how you can help. Every donation (even just $1.00) helps.
Tell me… What would your “life changing” trip be? Are you doing what’s good for your soul? What would your day to day life look like if you were doing what makes your soul happy?