Eco-Logic Yoga Retreat and TCDF (Thai Child Development Foundation) are located in Pak Song, near Ranong in Thailand. Their tag line is "Yoga for Charity" because the retreat center is set up to support the projects of the Thai Child Development Foundation. Each stay supports the foundation and their efforts directly.
The Thai Child Development Foundation was set up in 2004 by two women named Rose Tieges & Ingrid van der Straaten - it's a Thai/Dutch initiative. TCDF supports underprivileged children in their development and is active in the mountains of Phato, Chumpon province, Thailand.
TCDF focuses on providing small-scale, customized support, and personal attention for the children while recapitalizing local resources. They have many social projects: Disabled Children Project (local Thai staff only work with support underprivileged children individually through various programs); The Medical Care and Educational Project (support children in their development towards a greater independence and quality of life); Medical Care (nutrition program for underprivileged children, physiotherapy for handicap children, medical care for sick children, emergency funds); Saturday activities for local children; Education; School for mentally and physically disabled children; Occupational Training Center and Farm; Scholarships for underprivileged children; Creative learning Center for local youth; and Workshops and seminars for adults aimed to reach children.
A small team of Thai professionals work with the children and international volunteers (like us!) come year round to offer support to the farm and occupational training center. Volunteers do the hard physical labor of maintenance and on Saturdays, they reach out to the local youth, with the aim to increase understanding, awareness and personal development. These are some of the things Pete and I helped with.
TCDF aims to increase sustainability and independence of TCDF through projects by ambassadors, volunteers and friends of the foundation, local as well as international.
Pete and I spent 5 days and 4 nights with the guests, children and workers at Eco-Logic. We got to know the founders and the people that make the school and center run. We arrived on the evening of the 15th and had group dinner with everyone. The food is primarily vegan and vegetarian (fish and chicken is served from time to time, though very rarely). We got some rest that evening so we would be refreshed for morning yoga at 6:30 am.
We awoke to the sounds of roosters cock-a-doodle-dooing outside the window of our modest accommodations. They have really nice bungalows at Eco-Logic but we stayed in a private room in the dorms, which was perfect for us. Our purpose at Eco-Logic was to volunteer in any capacity that we could. After 6:30 am yoga and breakfast, we met with one of the founders, Ingrid, who gave us a tour of the property. We got to hang out with the kids in the special school and to see the mushroom farm and gardens. We sat with her and the manager, Monique, afterwards to plan out our time there. Pete was to work in the garden and help with the children while I was to teach a yoga class each day and provide Reiki and hypnotherapy services for guests and staff. Together, we also had the tasks of volunteering with the children and taking photography and videos of our stay to give back to TCDF to use for marketing purposes.
After the tour, I trekked the mile and a half to the internet cafe so I could access WiFi and put the finishing touches on my last blog post (the things I do to blog!). Afterwards we had lunch and then we joined some guests of the retreat center for a waterfall hike and then yoga near the Rocky River. We jumped off cliffs into the water below and swam around for an hour or so. Dark clouds loomed overhead so we decided to leave early and head over to the place for yoga. It started to pour with intense lightening and thunder so Pete and I decided to walk back to the center versus participating in yoga. We had a lovely walk in the rain. After getting cleaned up, we had group dinner with all of the guests of the hotel and headed to rest.
After morning yoga and breakfast, everyone got ready for the Saturday Creative School that's hosted at TCDF every Saturday. We all had a job to do. Mine was to photograph and take video of the days events while Pete labored in the gardens with Remi, the lead gardener and tour guide. Later, we would spend an hour and a half with the children on the field, participating in physical activity. They wore us down!
In between that time, Remi took us and some of the new guests on a more in-depth tour of the grounds. We walked through the gardens, seeing the many varieties of vegetables and fruit trees. We saw the Mushroom Farm, where students of the special school harvest mushrooms each day to sell back to the restaurant (or to the community if the restaurant has all it needs). Food that isn't grown on the farm is purchased from a local woman who brings the produce by on her motorbike. The children learn various tasks and ways to make money in their community, such as sewing, gardening, accounting, and exchanging money. It's very inspirational! Remi showed us the BioGas container that was donated from the government of Thailand for all of TCDF's charitable work. The gas is made from compost and animal poop.
We saw the hydroponic garden and the fish tanks, as well as the chicken coops. The chickens are allowed to roam freely but they always choose to come back to their coops because they are well provided for and have a comfortable life at Eco-Logic (there are wild chickens on the farm, as well). Their eggs are collected for use in the restaurant and when the chickens no longer lay eggs, they live the rest of their lives out on the farm with the other chickens. None of the chickens are killed for food. I personally don't agree with using animals for any reason, but I was happy to hear that the chickens aren't killed after they can no longer produce eggs.
After the kiddos went home, we rested for a bit as I taught the 4:30 pm yoga class. It went great - the students loved the class and gave me positive feedback. For dinner, we sat around with the fellow guests to enjoy some vegan food and Chang beer over conversation. We stayed up quite late shooting the shit. We headed to sleep around 12:30 am.
I taught the 6:30 am class today and led the students through a lovely flow. Pete worked in the garden with Remi and another guest for 3 hours until he was pouring sweat. I booked guests and staff members for their Reiki and hypnotherapy work and ended up doing 4 sessions of each throughout the day. I worked on: energy clearing for a woman who's had strange accidents occurring in her life; physical pain and ego strength for another woman; back pain and headaches for another woman; and for sleep difficulties for one of the men. All of the profits went directly to TCDF. I really love what I do and it felt great to be able to give back to the foundation and to some of the staff members that dedicate so much of their time and life to the children. By the end of the day, I was so tired that I just wanted to go to sleep! I felt complete.
We woke up early today as I taught the 6:30 am class again and then we headed to breakfast. Afterwards, we packed up to get on a taxi to meet the bus to Phuket! Can't wait to relax a little bit after a few days of intense work and activity. I'll pick up with Day 6 on the blog next!