Life-changing volunteer mission

Lauren learns more about Karen culture during the volunteer trip to Huay Pakoot.
Lauren learns more about Karen culture during the volunteer trip to Huay Pakoot.

A student from Wetherby recently spent a trip of a lifetime in the mountainous forests of Northern Thailand as a GVI volunteer.

Lauren Goodwin, who lives in Linton and was educated in Wetherby, got close up and personal with Asian elephants during her amazing opportunity to mix with the impressive animals during the two weeks.

The once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a newly born elephant calf.

The once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a newly born elephant calf.

Lauren has lived in the Wetherby area all her life and is currently in her A-level year at York College.

She said: “Hiking through the forests is one of the very few activities you’re guaranteed to never get bored of, especially when you stumble across fascinatingly beautiful Asian elephants enjoying life in their natural environment.

“After a long year studying at college finished by a group of consecutive, stressful exams I couldn’t think of anything better than getting away and forgetting all about it.

“This dream came true after I signed up with GVI to volunteer in the most amazing little village in Thailand surrounded by such breath-taking terrain and unbelievable, friendly villagers.

“I spent some time tracking the magnificent elephants who have been relieved from physically and mentally demanding work in tourist camps.

“Seeing how happy they are back in the wildlife where they belong is a truly satisfying feeling and one which will stay with me for the rest of my life.

“One of the biggest highlights throughout my trip was getting the once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet a newly born elephant calf.

“Not only did I get the priceless opportunity to observe these astonishing creatures on a daily basis, I also volunteered to work in the local school teaching English to the younger villagers.

“Another amazing aspect of my trip was learning about the Karen culture and getting the chance to completely immerse myself within it.

“This journey was extremely eye-opening and massively helped to boost my confidence.

“It was so wonderful seeing and feeling such happiness throughout the whole two weeks. A feeling I will never forget. Huay Pakoot, you have my heart and I cannot wait to return.”

○ GVI provides life-changing help all over the world and I feel extremely privileged to have been able to witness it.

Visit gvi.co.uk or call 01727 250 250 for more information.”