From Solihull to Thailand

Two Solihull students are raising money and spending their summers volunteering in Northern Thailand. Tia Smith reports….

Katie Ladkin and Victoria Jones

Katie Ladkin and Victoria Jones

Katie Ladkin, 19, studying English and Education Studies at Gloucestershire University and Victoria Jones, also 19, studying Philosophy at Manchester Metropolitan University, both from Solihull, are flying to Chiang Rai, in northern Thailand on 21st June 2012 for 7 weeks  to volunteer in local schools teaching English.

The girls will be dedicating 9 hours a day, 5 days a week in local schools with children of all ages, teaching them how to speak English. They will be staying with a host family for the entirety of their stay which Victoria said will allow them to fully appreciate the Thai lifestyle and integrate themselves into the culture.

Victoria said: “This is an area of the world where we believe this kind of knowledge will be invaluable in improving not only the education system but the livelihoods of those we teach and the surrounding communities. We cannot stress enough the importance of knowing the English language is to these Thai children who without it would be condemned.”

They are volunteering on behalf of the charity VESL that specialises in education projects and sending volunteers dedicated to giving time to developing the education of communities in Thailand, Sri Lanka and India. The VESL website states: “We are passionate about making each project a success and aim for every volunteer to feel proud of their achievement.” Katie and Victoria are aiming to raise a total of £900 between them for the charity and will also have to pay for their flights to Thailand.

Katie said: “VESL are providing me with the perfect opportunity for me to do what I love, which is working with children and teaching. The work we will do will make a long term difference to the lives of the children in Thailand, without it they will not be able to go further into higher education and get good quality jobs”

The girls are involved with various fundraising events and schemes to achieve their £900 target.

Victoria is doing the Manchester 10km run on 20th May 2012 to raise money, and has been selling handmade cards. She will also be organising a garage sale or car boot sale over Easter and donating all the profits to the VESL organization. Katie is using the social networking site Facebook to raise awareness and encourage people to donate to the charity.

Web pages have been set up by the two young volunteers to encourage people to donate and whereby you can donate online or by text. If you wish to donate you can visit and or you can donate by texting THAI65 followed by your donation to 70070.

Tia Smith is in her second year of a Journalism degree at the University of Chester and is looking for a work placement for up to 5 weeks between May 5th – June 18th, 2012. Contact the Birmingham Press by emailing [email protected] or contact her via Twitter @tiasmithxx if you can help.