Sarah, who works in environmental conservation in England, found New Life Foundation on the WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) website. She was attracted by the yoga and meditation classes and that it was a recovery center, though she wasn’t sure exactly what that was.
“It was so easy to set it all up,” she says. I emailed and Julien responded right away and said to come. I got the directions for taking the bus from Chiang Rai to the turn off to New Life. Julien had told me I could hitchhike from there, about 3 km up the road. I was new to Thailand so I wasn’t sure about hitching. But people just stopped. I turned the first one down, still a little uneasy. But my rucksack was getting heavy, so when another one stopped, I accepted a ride. Little did I know, this is how it’s done in our little village.”
Sarah originally planned to stay at New Life for two weeks. She ended up staying 3 1/2 months.
As she got to know residents, she was amazed how open and sincere they were. When they talked about the New Life classes and programs, especially the Enneagram, she was impressed with their self-knowledge.
So, like a number of volunteers, she switched to the residency program. “New Life is a safe place emotionally so you can really learn about yourself and talk with others about it. This is a culture of people learning.”
During her time at New Life, Sarah became aware of how shut down emotionally she was. “I wasn’t really feeling much of anything,” she says. With the help of life coaches and the support of fellow residents, she has gotten in touch with her feelings and learned not only to express but also to trust them for guidance in making choices.
What does Sarah have to say to people considering a volunteer stint at New Life?
“Just do it,” she says emphatically. “You’ll learn so much about yourself.”
–Many thanks to one of our volunteers for this guest post