It’s been an awesome week spent in my first village stay in Nong Sang. Nong Sang is a village 45 minutes from Khon Kaen and is one of the wealthier villages we will visit. This site visit is for my community public health class. We were in the village to assess the needs of the community. Each person spent the week interviewing and observing villagers to learn about a topic that interested them. With the information we gather and the input from the villagers, we will determine the priority needs of the village. When we go back in November, we will do some intervention based off of this information.
Testing how well I know Thai with a villager
My topic was diabetes management in rural Thailand. I learned a lot about diabetes in the village but the most memorable part of this week for me was spending time with the villagers. Me and four other girls in the program lived with my meh (mom), her 5 year old grandson and her parents in her home. We slept on a mattress, surrounded by our mosquito net that saved us from waking up with hundreds of bites. Our shower was outside in a hut with two containers of water and a bucket to pour the water over you. What really made the experience was the cockroaches, lizards and spiders in the hut with me.
During the days everyone in the program met at one of our family’s home and we all helped our mehs cook the meals. The food was always fresh and delicious and there was always more than enough food for all of us. If I wasn’t meeting with people in the village then I was either at the primary school, helping out on the guava farm, visiting an integrated farm with bananas, passion fruit and rice or enjoying the slow village life and taking a nap.
Cooking vegetables and pork to be put over sticky rice
What stood out to me in the village is their strong sense of community. The focus here is the village’s needs not the needs of each individual villager. They are self-sustained and one of the few things they rely on from outside is bottled drinking water. Each week the villagers meet at the temple, most of the families own a farm and everyone’s home has an “open door policy”. Independence isn’t an important thing and it would probably negatively impact them since so much of their village relies on helping each other.
I should be used to it by now, but I was again surprised by the their hospitality. All of the villagers were kind, selfless and welcoming. The mehs woke up at 5 a.m. so they could get their chores done and still start getting breakfast ready. There was a death in the village in the middle of the week but everyone was just as friendly. I felt like a burden to be there but their friendliness and effort to make us feel welcome never changed.
We came to Nang Song to address the needs of the community. There are definitely things that should be changed to better the village’s health like the use of pesticides, the diabetes prevalence and garbage disposal but in reality, they actually have it figured out. Everyone in the village has a smile on their face, the kids run around like any 5 or 10 year old would, the mehs got together one night for one of their birthdays and drank Chang and the older villagers relax on their porches.
Students with our mehs, our ajans, and the dog “go”