Jungle Aid

When you help people, meet them where they are: Understand that their circumstances may be more difficult than yours but do not become lost within that or be overwhelmed with sadness.  Be encouraged by what life has given you and that you are able to give back, be encouraged by the help that you provide, be encouraged by what you will learn, be encouraged by the loving memories you will share – smile, share, love, laugh, and grow.


The bus ride to meet Emma
The bus ride to meet Emma. Celine, me, Jihyun, and Nicola

I met Emma the Founder, President, and Nurse of Jungle Aid  a few weeks ago in Hua-Hin with the Bangkok Volunteers Meetup group that I am a part of (previous blog post https://gettingtoknowtheworld.com/2013/01/13/1698/). Jungle Aid provides medical care to the Karen people refugees from Myanmar that live in the jungles of Thailand. On January 26th I joined Jungle Aid (Emma and Maria) and 5 other volunteers to meet and help the Karen People of Bon Luk village in Keang Kra Chan National Park (approximately a 5 hour drive from Hua-Hin where we left from). Bon Luk village is the most remote village that Jungle Aid helps but we got there virtually 100% by SUVs, with the exception of a 15 minute walk.  Approximately 500 people live in the village with minimal access to health care (there is a small clinic near by), they have some electricity via solar panels brought in by “The Queen’s Project” (the only electricity I saw it in use was for fans in their weaving shop), and most of the homes are small structures made of bamboo.


The journey to Bon Luk Village was quite beautiful. We rode the jungle to get there so as you can imagine there were plenty of tropical plants and amazing views from every angle. Luckily we were in a 4 wheel drive vehicle because there were some roller coaster like moments on the unpaved road. When we arrived we parked the cars and quickly ate our lunch that we brought with us, and took a about a 15 minute walk across a bridge and into the village carrying medical supplies, tooth brushes clothes, toys, paper, and crayons. We met the community members under a large pavilion and got to work.

Emma and Subatra (Suba, is another volunteer and friend that is a doctor) saw patients and I assisted them by logging the patients information (name, age, condition, medication given, follow-up needed); a group of 3 volunteers conducted a survey of the village, assessing how many people lived there, what the living conditions were, their overall health, education, etc…; and the other volunteers played with the children, taught the kids how to use the toothbrushes, and gave out the toys and clothing.

Most of the people that Emma and Suba saw had worm infestations which is more than likely due to poor hygiene, luckily Jungle Aid had a large supply of medicine to get rid of the worms.  There was also a cold that was going around and they were given vitamin C, and paracetamol (Tylenol) to help with that. Most of the women worked at the “Queen’s Project’s” weaving shop and suffered from back and shoulder pains due to working in the same position for hours, Emma gave them a menthol rub to use and suggested that they take breaks to stretch. One person was believed to have tuberculosis, there was a child with asthma, a man with an unknown growth on his foot that needed to be drained, a woman who had an unknown illness on her nose that hurt and bled, and a little girl who had abscesses on her head.  I had the pleasure of meeting this precious little girl and giving my first hair cut to her- she had several abscesses on her head so her hair needed to be cut, the boils were medicated, and her mom was taught how to clean her. Some of the patients had been sick for months or years and had not even gone to the clinic that is near by. Jungle Aid provides an invaluable service of direct health care and also follows-up with patients that may need additional care at a hospital by bringing them to the hospital and paying for their treatment. Not only does Jungle Aid provide medical care but more importantly they let the Karen people know that others care about them.

The team that assessed the village told us that about 80% of the children attend school; they do not currently record information about births, deaths, health, etc…; the women that work in the weaving shop earn 100 BHT a day and get a commission of 1,000- 3,000 BHT depending on the item sold; there is a small store in the village; 9 of the 10 out house toilets were in decent condition –  ceramic squatting toilets with decent sewage system that did not drain into the river, 1 was a whole in the ground; there is a malaria health worker in the area that visits various villages to diagnose and treat malaria, they are allowed to grow eggplants which is provided by the Queens Project but they are not allowed to grow other plants or to keep animals; they do not always have enough rice for everyone to eat.  Jungle Aid will use the assessment to determine future donations needed and other ways to sustainably aid the community.

Overall I had an amazing experience, it was an amazing opportunity to learn (I have an interest in health care), I met wonderful people, and I got to have a glimpse of a different way of life.  And a bonus, on our ride back we rode through “Elephant Country” and saw three massive wild elephants! I am looking forward to volunteering with Jungle Aid again.

Thank you to Emma and Maria for taking all of us along with you, to Celilu the organizer of the Bangkok Volunteers group for introducing us to Jungle Aid, to Khun Paron for providing the volunteers with a place to stay, and to all of the volunteers who took pictures.

If you would like to support Jungle Aid please visit




(All of the photographs in this blog post were taken by the volunteers that were with me in Bon Luk and I edited them. It’s time for me to get a new camera)


Bangkok Volunteers Group – Jungle Aid introduction Meetup

Bangkok Volunteers Meetup hanging out on the beach for lunch
Bangkok Volunteers Meetup hanging out on the beach for lunch

Yesterday I joined the Bangkok Volunteers Group MeetUp.com group and it’s organizer Celilu on a trip to Hua Hin to meet Emma, the Founder of Jungle Aid. It was great way to spend the day with like-minded people and to learn more about the work that Emma and Jungle Aid does to support the Karen people who live in the Jungles of Thailand. The Karen people who they support are a group of people that are refugees from Myanmar, that live in remote villages in the jungle that do not receive any outside help. They do not have access to basic medical care, education, and are denied the ability to grow their own crops or to keep animals so that they are able to eat. Jungle Aid supports these villages by providing medical support on a monthly basis, by helping them establish micro businesses such as producing and selling coconut oil, and is looking to assist them with education and setting up permanent medical clinics.
Read more about the work of Jungle Aid on their website http://www.jungleaid.wordpress.com. I will be volunteering with them on January 26t

h, if you would like to make a donation please feel free to paypal me at ericav.knowles@gmail.com prior to January 26th.  If you don’t have a paypal account leave a comment below and I will contact you. If you live in Bangkok just contact me so we can get together.

Jungle Aid Foundation

This medical clinic was the most amazing trip. On the 24th of November at 6am 7 volunteers including Emma our nurse, Sam our Osteo, Millee the Educational lead and 2 medical students from The Little Foundation set off. We had the donated rice (300kg), medicine for a remote emergency clinic and enough supplies to leave for a month. With a 4 hour drive to Bang Saphan followed by a 2 hour hike through dense jungle, crossing 5 rivers with all the supplies to reach the most remote village ever visited. It was an incredible journey.

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In this village only 1 child attends school due to the costs charged by the local school. Our aim is to work with the local Thai school to see if the fees can be reduced so we can support the other 27 children to attend school. They have very little food and all 54 people living in this remote village eat twice a day at 10am…

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Weekend trip at the beach – Hua Hin

Matthew and I recently had great weekend vacation to Hua Hin. Hua Hin is a nice easily reachable beach town south of Bangkok. During its rise of popularity it was destination for Thailand‘s royalty, rich and elite. It now is lined with small boutique hotels and all the major hotels as well. The Founder and President of school Khun Paron owns property in Hua Hin and was gracious enough to allow us to stay in one of his guest houses while we were there. You can automatically tell that there are a lot of Westerners that visit the area due to the array of restaurants – French, German, Italian, Russian, etc… We actually ate a pretty good Italian restaurant one evening.

The railway station in Hua Hin, Thailand, is r...
The railway station in Hua Hin, Thailand, is remarkable for its architecture. On the foreground – the Royal pavilion. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To get to Hua- Hin from Bangkok you have several options, rent a private van, take a van that departs from Victory Monument (2 hours), take a train (about 3 hours), or drive yourself. We took the train there and it actually ended up being 30 minutes late, most Thai people take the van that leaves from Victory Monument. For the ride back we cancelled our train ticket and took the van, and it had 2 stops in Bangkok- one that was actually closer to our neighborhood. If we return with a larger group we will more than likely rent a van so that we can have a driver over the course of the weekend, it actually cost more to get from the house we were staying at to the main part of Hua-Hin (a 10 minute ride 200 BHT, Bangkok to Hua-Hin in a shared van 150 BHT)

There are quite a few places that you can visit while on a weekend vacation in Hua- Hin. We actually didn’t go to the nearby caves, waterfall in the national park, or vineyard,  and hope to visit again so that we can get to do that.  But here are a few things that we did get to enjoy:

Maruekatayawan Palace, built by King Rama VI in 1923

When you think of a palace you think of a grandiose, ornate, closed in, somewhat stuffy  place. This palace is the exact opposite. While it is grand, it’s on stilts and is completely open aired with open windows everywhere. It’s a light sand color with aqua and pink highlights. The grounds are amazing with large trees throughout. One of the many interesting features is that any part of the actual building that touch the ground (columns and stairwells) have a small moat about 1 inch wide and deep around them. When King Rama VI lived here, he detested ants; the moats were constantly filled with water, which prevented the ants from climbing up to the living quarters of the palace.

Hutsadin Elephant Foundation

Hutsadind Elephant Foundation is a place that rescues injured, abused, neglected and retired elephants. To raise money they offer a tour of their grounds via an elephant ride, opportunities to feed the elephants, and of course the infamous baby elephant show (at the end she asks for a tip by passing you a basket).  The elephant ride starts of a bit tricky because your on top of this massive creature that is walking around on a not so even surface, but after a while you get used to it. Then you notice the elephant goad (the tool used to control the elephant) and it’s shocking because the mahout (the person controlling the elephant) will use this at times to poke it to make it do what they need it to do. Which I do understand somewhat since you have people on this large animal you need a way to make sure that it doesn’t go charging off. I also never heard the elephant cry or scream, so I’m assuming it was something similar to when my mom pinched my arm as a child to make me follow her lead – not fun but not torture either. The interactive baby elephant show was very cute, it really displayed the intelligence of the animal.  She danced to the music, put a hat on my head, kicked a soccer ball to Matthew, and hugged us with her trunk.

Hua-Hin Floating Market – Skip it, just don’t do it to yourself.. Go to a real one.


Cicada is a modern artist market that is open in the evening. There are live shows going on throughout the market. There are original quality products being sold by local people, and I don’t mean the touristy gift items these are things, jewelry and clothing that you would actually use. And of course there is food. The atmosphere is great we actually went there two of the nights we were there.

Hua Hin Night Market

The Hua Hin Night Market is more like your traditional Thai market except it’s a night and there are restaurants that sell man eating sized lobsters. I of course wanted to eat one of these gigantic lobsters but I would not be able to take on the task myself and my husband is allergic to seafood. So please come visit soon so we can eat one of these things that were as long as my arms.

And of course the beach

Yes scream at me now, I didn’t take any pictures of the beach… so here’s one from the internet. But it’s a lovely beach you can rent lounge chairs, buy beverages and food, go kite surfing (not that I saw anyone doing that), take a banana boat ride, and of course go jet skiing,

View of Hua Hin
View of Hua Hin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)