7 – 12 March 2017
For city kids from Macau, visiting a hill tribe village in northern Thailand was a completely new, eye-opening experience. We travelled with our vans along the winding mountain roads between the forest-covered hills to reach the beautiful, yet remote Karen hill tribe village of Mae Kapiang. There we were greeted by Sangob Foundation who gave us a tour around the village.
The students were interested to learn about a life and community so different to theirs back home. We visited the village church, learning about the arrival of Christianity to the village and how its teachings have been integrated into the belief system of the villagers, which is traditionally animist in nature. The students were fascinated by how the villagers would share different roles and duties, taking it in turns to teach in the kindergarten or look after the buffalo and farm the fields, working together as a community.
We were then introduced to the lovely P’Sa, who showed us the many stages of traditional weaving. The students had a go at each stage, some of them continuing to help roll up the balls of thread after hearing that this stage alone takes forty-five minutes to complete. Although the weaving is done by the women, the men help by making all the tools needed, and the children will start learning to weave from as young as four years old.
After weaving, we moved to the kitchen area next door and learnt about traditional herbal medicine, how different plants like ginger, kaffir lime, and pennywort can be used for healing different ailments. We then sat down to eat a delicious Karen lunch, with chicken soup from the free-roaming village chickens, vegetables which were mostly grown in the village, fish chilli paste, from fish caught from the local river and roselle tea.
I was pleased to see how the students were not keen to leave and get back to their air-conditioned rooms and iPhones, but sad to leave the beautiful village and keen to experience more of the Karen traditional way of life. Thank you for a wonderful day Sangob Foundation and see you again soon!