Refugee Volunteer Project Bangkok Thailand

Christy was born and raised in Seattle, Washington and spent most of her adult life in New York City. She now divides her time between Bangkok Thailand and the US. Coming from a multicultural family, and travelling at every opportunity, she considers herself a global citizen. Her background in youth advocacy, community development, and hospitality formed the foundation for her role working with the not-for-profit organisation; Courageous Kitchen.

'Inspiring marginalised youth in Bangkok through the power of food' Courageous Kitchen

As Program Director, Christy oversees the day-to-day activity of the foundation and manages the programs for the families and staff. She also develops curriculum for all food-related activities in the charity. In 2017, Christy launched a Thai cooking course for tourists and began developing a Courageous Kitchen cookbook.

Read on to learn about the outstanding work being done in #Thailand by Courageous Kitchen as Christy shares her insight on giving back!

Why have you chosen this area of humanitarian work?

I’ve always been passionate about food and people. When I first came to Thailand and met Dwight, our Executive Director, I had no idea he was working with refugees. All I knew was that I wanted to help serve people in some way, and he was that vessel for me. Initially, I started teaching English and immediately knew that I wanted to be involved on a much deeper and more meaningful way.

Before English classes began, I would cook with the children, as they had very little to eat in their own homes. It really struck a chord in me, when I realised that me wanting to impose my language on to them wasn’t really a necessity if their basic human needs weren’t even being met. Food and health had to come first!

My whole perspective changed at that moment and I dedicated myself to learning more about the people and advocating on their behalf. It’s amazing that something so simple as sharing a meal with someone can transform their lives. I’m fortunate to be able to witness it firsthand. Back in the eighties, my family were refugees in Laos.

My parents were sponsored by Americans and able to go to the states to start a new life. Although it was before my time, knowing that there was someone who once helped my family in the same situation, encourages me to do the same. I see the change and the hope it provides the kids having someone that truly cares for them. In turn, it gives me something to look forward to, gives meaning to my life and my work.

I believe as human beings, we have the responsibility to pay it forward.

What is your main volunteer role?

I manage and develop education and culinary programming for asylum seekers and refugees living in Bangkok, Thailand. My duties change depending on the day, so it’s hard to really tick off any boxes. On any given day, I may be advocating for families at a meeting, visiting people who’ve been detained in the Immigration Detention Centre, teaching a cooking class to tourists, or just visiting homes and sharing a family dinner.

The majority of our volunteers are very independent, and we expect them to be. We are a small group, that really need to trust each other and show love to the families we work with.

Currently, we’re serving about three to four hundred people in our community, with volunteers helping in various capacities. We try to provide an open line of communication always and help to give them the tools they need to be successful. It’s not an easy work, it’s emotionally trying at times, frustrating at others.

Being such a small organisation, things can be difficult to manage, however, safety and the well-being of our participants are our main priority. To volunteer, we do require a time commitment, background checks, references, and some sort of intent to be hands-on. We advocate for responsible tourism and value its importance.