July 19, 2017

Adventist Youth Volunteers Clean a Popular Zoo in Thailand

Arjelo Onde, Southern Asia Division News

A group of Adventist youth recently volunteered at a famous zoo in Thailand to raise awareness for last month’s World Environment Day. The Nakhon Ratchasima Zoo—also known as Korat Zoo—is an approximately 200-acre establishment in Korat, Thailand, and one of the most visited tourist destinations in the country. Managing and maintaining this facility demands careful planning and a large workforce.

The youth group consisted of Adventist young professionals studying and working in Thailand, who called themselves #CareTeamKorat. It is a multicultural group, with members hailing from different countries around the world. It is also the only organized Adventist youth group in the province of Nakhon Ratchasima.

The group pooled their funds and raised money to organize activities to benefit others. For the 2017 Global Youth Day on March 18, they organized a community day. They gave away grocery items and health books, organized a feeding program for children, taught English, and conducted free blood pressure checks for the elderly. After a full day of service, massive rain flooded the area forcing the group to navigate through waist-deep waters on their way home.

That experience didn’t deter them from seeking new service opportunities. To celebrate the World Health Day on April 8, they organized a small medical mission for the local community. They offered free services like Thai massages and saunas as well as simple laboratory tests such as proteinuria test, bile salt in a urine test, blood sugar test, blood typing, and blood pressure measurements.

When they looked for another service project, they thought of the zoo and the environment. The group believes that it is important to maintain cleanliness in the zoo because it is home to animals that need a clean environment to live. So, the group offered to clean the zoo for World Environment Day on June 5.

Their offered reached Airada Dengler, the zoo’s website manager, and foreign relationship officer, who was surprised but happy to hear their request. “It is the first time a group of young professionals offers community services in the zoo,” said Dengler. “It is also our first time to welcome an outside group to help clean the facility.”

Over fifty of these young people were at the zoo that day and even brought some of their non-member friends to join the activity. They raked dead leaves, loaded mounds of them into dump trucks, cleaned ponds, trimmed bushes, and weeded lawns.

As a way of showing their appreciation, the zoo management sponsored lunch and gave the group a free tour on a safari train around the zoo. The management urged them to come back any time to conduct activities at the zoo.

The group hopes to send the message that Adventists care for the environment. “Simple acts of kindness are still, by far, louder than words,” group leaders said.