About International Humanity Foundation

Half of IHF's mission is to educate the poor and the other half is to educate the world about the poor. Our vision is to strive for a world of leaders and citizens who have interacted with, and are truly knowledgeable about the world's poor. We believe in a "pass it on" philosophy where education is free and available for all who seek it. Those of us who have received a free education pass it on by helping others less fortunate by teaching, interacting and learning. With just a few hours a week, our volunteers, children and sponsors are changing the world we live in. IHF is a non-religious, non-political, non-profit organization that strongly believes in an equal opportunity for all and in preserving the cultures, traditions and beliefs of the marginalized communities it works in.

Protecting elephants: Common Purpose Nationwide

by Ushmi, Co-Director, IHF Chiang Rai

It was Friday 13th March- a day many would remain cautious and park adventures of any kind aside… if one lived around superstition, of course. For us, here at the Chiang Rai Center, it was just another hot Friday. The kids had just begun their holidays and before they returned to their village for their long break we decided to have an outing together. I love elephants and the children love Chiang Rai Beach, so we compromised… to do both!

We took a long tail boat from Chiang Rai Beach to the Ruammit Elephant Camp. It was just under an hour of meandering along the River Kok. GorgeIMG_2058ous landscapes draped with hills, forest cover, plantations and scattered inhabitants were but a taste of our view from the boat. The river water splashed onto us, as if to be part of the boat ride package, cooling us from the scorching sun. We passed children playing, jumping from rocks into the water, fishermen hard at work and many other boats filled with tourists, perhaps heading to the same attraction.

The Ruammit Elephant Camp is at the Karen Village, a home to almost 30 elephants of ages from 5 to 75 years. Elephants have served the people of Thailand for years, from logging, to transportation, and most importantly in battle.

But elephants’ lives have been threatened over the years, for reasons including increased land domination by humans and climate change, amongst other endangering factors. Elephant numbers have reduced at an alarming rate, from over 100,000 to almost 6,000 wild and domesticated elephants within 10 decades. Protecting elephants soon became a common purpose nationwide.
IMG_2038The Karen Village was an area where elephants served a significant domestic purpose. Logging was as a result of agricultural expansion for northern Thailand- an economic activity that provided a significant and increasing source of income for the Thai. However, as negative consequences became obvious to the government, a ban of logging was passed in 1989. Elephant camps developed as elephants for tourism became an alternative income provider.

Once we arrived to the camp, the elephants were not ‘parked’ as I remembered from my last visit. The elephant carers were also relaxed, and piles of bananas and bamboo (elephant food) were left in abundance for the elephants to eat at their leisure. Everything seemed different… but isn’t that the feeling every day in Thailand? We were petting and feeding the elephants. The girls were shy, careful and perhaps scared. Nupon and the rest of us were feeding them, stroking and ‘feeling the love’.

We were intrigued about the age of the elephant and that’s wIMG_2067hen we found out. The carer said the elephant was 75 years old. A massive grinned filled his face as he said, ‘it’s his birthday today- it’s the birthday for all the elephants in Thailand!’ I didn’t quite understand and then looked around- there was no elephant riding, no chains, it was what he said- Thai National Elephant Day! We spent an hour spraying water on them, feeding them and just enjoying their company. And then they were let free into the forest. They were free for the day… but they were free.

This day is marked to show the significance of elephants in Thailand, especially through the strong connection between the elephants and the Thai. But most importantly it has become the day to raise awareness about protecting and conserving the elephant population and their habitats.

Friday 13th may be bad luck for some but for us at IHF Chiang Rai, it couldn’t have been any luckier!

Happy 1937!!

by Helene, Work-Study, IHF Bali

From my arrival in Bali I knew that Saturday 21st of March 2015 would be a very special day. From November, all my Balinese friends asked me if I would still be in their amazing island for what they call “Nyepi”. Months before this day, all the youngsters from almost each Banjar (community in a neighborhood) start building Ogoh-ogoh. They are  giant monsters which are meant to scare demoP1080472ns on the day before Nyepi called “Kesanga”, cleaning the island from evil spirits for the new Balinese year (to let you know we entered year 1937). All Balinese families were in the street that day to watch boys and men carrying Ogoh Ogoh over bamboos, turning and jumping, while many others were following them making as much noise as possible. It was truly a very exciting moment to share with my friends.

From 6am the day after, Nyepi started for 24 hours. Everybody has to stay at home (tourists also), not making noise (we can speak normally but no music for example) and1901413_804319582950173_6767599353571264133_n no light at all at night. For very religious people, they even do not eat and meditate until the next morning. We spent the whole day cooking, swimming in the pool, eating and talking. I was already so quiet… But it was even more amazing at night when there was absolutely no light. We all lay down to watch the stars while hearing the waves from the distance.
I love the way Balinese people talk about Nyepi. They say they give their island a rest, they let it breath for one full day. From my point of view they still have a lot to do with plastic to respect their land but this quietness was truly stunning. In an utopic world I would import Nyepi all over the world.1513737_10152770438438589_4012417732694382136_n

New faces at IHF Nakuru Center!

by Martina, Voluntourist, IHF Nakuru

First week as a volunteer at IHF Nakuru Center:

The Children were so excited about my arrival; they were all kindly introducing themselves and (I’m not sure why) girls thought that my name was funny!image (3)

They though that my Italian name is not enough and that I should start thinking about an English name!! Just after I figured out that they all have double names, the original one given by the family and the English one.

I got introduced to so many of them, that after one week I couldn’t really remember all their names!! It was quite challenging!!

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This week I had to help the kids to write letters to their sponsors, and I was surprised how all they are really grateful to them. Apparently having sponsors supporting them is really important, because by this way they get monthly donations from them and even in special occasions such as birthdays they receive special donations. The kids were really happy to receive these donations so they could buy the school stuff that they need, or even visit their families.

Now is the dry season, it means that it hasn’t been raining since December, but the kids are happy anyway! I still haven’t seen any of them crying or being upset.image (2)

I’m starting to believe that I will have to learn a lot from these kids!!!

Ice skating for Ade and Rahma’s birthday!

by Ade, Co-Director, IHF Jakarta

In the early Sunday morning, Arnau, Ayu, Ade and Rahma prepared to go ice skating. This was not our first time practicing this sport, but our third or fourth. However, Dania, our local volunteer teacher who decided to come with us had never try ice skating before. We called a taxi to go all together and arrived to Mal Taman Anggrek around 08.30 AM. It was really surprising to see most of the shops in the Mal closed as it was very early.2015-03-15 09.38.052015-03-15 09.39.06

We also invited Dita to do Ice Skating. She was one of our great local volunteer in Jakarta center. We were so happy because at the end she could join. Actually, this plan was actually the idea of Arnau to celebrate Rahma and Ade’s birthday. In the Ice Skating rink all of us were falling again and again but we were happy because we were getting better and better. Doubtless Rahma was the best among us, she was very good at it. We also took a lot of nice photos to remember this amazing day!2015-03-15 09.26.292015-03-15 10.48.12

After we finished ice skating we didn’t want to go home, so we walked around the Mal and found a good place to sit together. In the small café, we ordered some nice drinks, talked each other about activities at IHF Jakarta Center and played some games about the countries in the world. It was a really great day. We will never forget it and I hope we can do it again next time.

Happy Birthday Rahma and Ade! Wish you all the best! :D

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Sahat: New Co-Director at IHF Medan Center

by Sahat, Co-Director, IHF Medan

As the new Co-director at IHF Medan center, I am so glad and feel interesting when I was teaching in the Penguin class for grade SMP on every Monday and Wednesday. The class has been running as usual and we had a great introducing between me and the students. We loved to know each other and it was a great time for us as well!

The method for the teaching was trying to increase the students’ intrinsic motivation to learn more about English. We had a nice game it called “Head and Tail” which is the students sat in groups that consists of 4 to 5 students and they tried to worked in a team by finding some new vocabularies. Each group which could not give the right answer they would get less point. So, they were very eager and compete to one another group in order to get more points for their own group.SD 3 in group work

For the math class of SD 3, they made such a fun math for drawing activities about making geometry in cartoon papers. They did it in group works, they enjoyed it very much because it made them mSD 3ore understand of their lesson teacher was guided them and help in every group which is need it!

In every class, it is very expected for the teachers to create and make the classroom situation being live and fun of learning. Moreover, as the function of the teacher is just to encourage the students’ to have more awareness to be independent learners. By doing so, the students will have a good awareness to motivate and courage the ways of their leaning for themselves.

Finally, we had a really nice moment in the class during the teaching learning process; I was really so heart beating to see them especially when they enjoyed for the game and we have been successfully and proudly to make the environment of the classroom more fun and happy!

Dinner with the best company!

by Laura, Co-Director, IHF Chiang Rai

Last week we received at the center a lovely visit. Two Thai friends came to cook dinner to treat the kids, and us…

Early in the afternoon Ushmi and our friend Ari went to buy everything needed for the feast: chicken, pork, fish, all kind on vegetables and fruits. We have no idea of cooking, so we left the experts doing the hard work. Ari and the kids start peeling, cutting, chopping all the ingredients, seasoning the meat and cooking all the appetizing courses.

Nupon and Sukanya prepared our handmade barbeque at the garden and named themselves the ones in charge of the fish, which was delicious. Our other friend, Mee, arrived with ice-cream and sodas. The unable-to-cook set the table and everything was ready.11051523_1633827060174728_1076487494_n

Lab Hed (Mushrooms Spicy Salad), Moo tod Prik thai Dum (Pork with Garlic and Pepper) and Tom Yum Kai (chicken spicy soup) were the main dishes. Yummy!  The cooks were so great that they even prepare special food for our likes, vegetarian for Ushmi, no spicy for me…

The dinner was really funny, all of them speaking in Thai, we trying to understand what they were saying and to repeat the things they taught us, the kids laughing at the jokes our friends made…we even have a little concert when Mee took the guitar and started singing their favourite songs.

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Now, we are just willing to repeat a dinner like this one!

“All by myself”

by Emily, Co-Director, IHF Banda Aceh

I was goofy this week. I found myself singing, “All By Myself” in my best Celine Dion impression to the amusement of the SD 2 and 3 children. The things that happen when you suddenly switch from 2 roommates to none. Our wonderful co-Director, Timea, has fulfilled her commitment with IHF and left Banda Aceh to travel around Southeast Asia. She is missed. After all this time together, I consider her a sister and sincerely wish her the best on her next journey.

Coincidentally, Dustin left soon thereafter for a visa run, leaving me quite suddenly alone at the center. After 7 months of not spending a single night by myself, it was shockingly silent in the evening. I found myself locking the doors a little earlier than usual, listening to the bumps in the night with a little more intensity. I messaged Anggara, one of our local math teachers, at 2 in the morning to report that I had heard rustling in the trees outside my window.

“Just go to sleep,” he wrote. “Nothing bad can happen in Banda Aceh.”

Sure, sure. Tell that to the violently rustling leaves, I thought. In retrospect, it might have just been the wind. Maybe.

The next morning in classes, my students eagerly enquired after Dustin’s location (they have come to terms with Timea’s absence, although they don’t like it). I explained where Dustin was. Eventually, everyone realized that all this information meant one thing and one thing only: I was alone at the center.

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And thereafter came an immense flood of invitations, from our local volunteers, parents, and some terribly concerned eight year olds. They could stay with me, I could stay with them, we could all stay somewhere else together. Indonesian culture is incredibly communal. Individuals rarely seek alone time, and some of my kind rescuers had trouble understanding my polite refusals. I value my alone time, and I wanted to take advantage of my first and possibly last opportunity in Indonesia.

“But aren’t you scared in the night?” One of our math teachers asked.

“Pffff.” I shrugged nonchalantly. “Of course not!”

I think somewhere in the background, Anggara was laughing at me.

My time alone did a lot for me, actually, other than get my adrenaline irrationally pumping. I got to sing and play guitar louder at night, as I wasn’t disturbing anyone by doing so. I taught a lot, which I always enjoy immensely. But mostly, I was immeasurably touched by the concern for my wellbeing expressed by all the wonderful people in my life here. I was reminded that bad things really don’t happen in Banda Aceh that often because most people are caring and considerate above and beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. These parents and university students and children offering to change their schedules for me weren’t doing so out of concern for my safety–of course I was safe! They wanted me to be comfortable, to feel looked after, to not be lonely even for a few nights iAceh 2n the city they want me to call home. I was hit with this wave of affection for Banda Aceh, and I think it will last the rest of my life.

When Dustin finally returned, the children were happy to see him and so was I. It was a nice recharge to have some alone time, but it felt right for him to be there too. I’m now off for my 2 week annual leave–it’s Dustin’s turn for alone time–and it seems strange to go right after being drastically reaffirmed in my happiness. But I will return refreshed, and the return will feel like a real home-coming. There’s something very special in that, something I treasure.

I want to express my appreciation for the all people who’ve made that feeling real for me. The people who’ve left: our short-term volunteers and Timea, who taught me everything I know about this jobAceh 4 and was a constant support system. The person I live with, Dustin, who cooks me amazing dinners and always thinks of a rational point I haven’t considered yet. Our housemother and the local volunteers, who comfort me at 2 in the morning and are an inspiration, with their patience and kindness toward the children. The parents, some of whom drive far distances twice a week so that their children can be part of our program and have more opportunities in life, and who will always bring me food when they have it and give me advice if they think I need it (I usually do). And my IHF family–The co-Directors at other centers and on other continents who send me encouraging emails and impress me with their dedication and competence.

How hard is saying goodbye to IHF…

by Timea, Co-Director, IHF Banda Aceh

When I decided to join IHF as a Co-director, I was in a strange place in my life. I did not really know what I wanted; all I knew was that I needed change. And I got it. In the best possible way. My time with IHF has completely changed my life and I could not be happier about it.

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Managing an education center for children from poor family backgrounds in Banda Aceh, Sumatra is a challenging, sometimes exhausting and very demanding, yet a wonderfully rewarding job. The tasks are so varied; there is no point in even trying to describe them. They range from basic administrative tasks to supervising roof repairs and to teaching children. Which is the best part, really. Knowing that you actually make a difference by providing education to people who really need it and thus help them to have more chances in their future lives is the best feeling ever. They are keen on learning and so hungry for love. However, it is not only the children who learn from us. They teach us so many things about their culture, patience and respect for each other. And you realize that you need their love, too. At least I do and I’m glad they found me worthy of it. I believe this is exactly what IHF’s ‘Pass it on’ philosophy means.MR4
IHF gave me so much more than just a job. It was a very real exposure to a new world; I found true friends, learned a lot and gained so many new skills. I am sad to leave all this behind but I know that my fellow Co-directors will keep up the good work, they are all wonderful people. I hope we meet again soon!MR 1
PD: All of us will miss you Timea!  And we wish you the best in the future! :)

Do you know how to move around in Thailand?

by Nadine, Voluntourist, IHF Chiang Rai

Before you come to Thailand, you know and hear that Tuk Tuks are THE typical means to get around.

And it’s true. First stop was Bangkok and I had to deal with a taxi aNadine - Taxit the airport. Finding a ‘taxi meter’ was not difficult. But on the way the driver told me I would have to pay the meter plus 50Baht for taking me from the airport plus 75Baht for the highway fee. He wanted me to pay while driving. Of course I refused but really feared I would be left in the middle of the way. He grumbled, at least I didn’t understand! Finally I arrived safely to my hotel and my total fare was 445Baht.

It didn’t start so gloriously but the adventures began nonetheless.

The following day I decided toNadine - wind in her hair explore Bangkok with a Tuk Tuk. First thing, from yesterday’s experience, was to bargain the fare. 300Baht? No way! Next try… 600Baht! I laugh and I move to another. 100Baht for two or three hours? Ok, and off we go. Wind in my hair and bumpy ride, but fun. Very very fun! The driver stayed with me for at least four hours and I visited all the places I wanted to.

The next experience was heading up to Chiang Rai in a VIP bus. Wow! I didn’t even realize the 12 hours had passed. Very comfortable, lots of space for my long legs and a massage seat. I even got a drink and a snack included in my ticket. And lunch too, at the only stop we made.

In Chiang Rai, contrary to what was planned I found otherwise. Nadine - Tuk TukNo one was waiting for me and I showed the taxi my address, in Thai, I got an ‘OK, OK’ and he left!!! Suddenly the lights at the bus station went off and… panic! Finally one taxi arrived. I gave him Laura’s phone number so that this time he understood the directions to the Center.

Northern Thailand… In Mae Sai, no Tuk Tuks but motor-taxis. Not my cup of tea as I am not the most confident on a motorbike, but it was good… and relatively cheap.

Tuks Tuks are my favourite by large… with Ushmi of course!

Nadine - Tuk Tuks are the best

Working hard for a better place

by Julie, Executive Director, IHF Nakuru

After a lovely holiday this week I was back to the centre and the most fantastic surprise. The children and Directors have worked so hard and completed all of the works needed for our public health inspection. The place looks so smart! We have new showers, beds, bedding, mosquito nets, shnew beds etcoe racks and storage in the dorms. The floors have all been properly sealed and painted with red oxide and new sinks and running water installed to promote hand-washing. The outdoor latrine has been completed and is very swish with tiling throughout and a tank for hand-washing just next to it.

The kitchen has been finished and new plates, cups and spoons purchased. The children can now all sit together as a proper family and not have to eat out of communal bowls in their dorms. We had our first family dinner together in thnew outdoor kitchene new dining room and the kids obviously love it. There was a lot of chatter and like a proper family meal a great deal of exchanging of views and gossip.

The public health inspection day dawned on Friday and to keep us on our toes the inspector arrived an hour earlier than expected. This was fine as the Directors and children had been up to 11pm the night before tidying, fixing nets, and making the place spick and span for the inspection. The inspector was a local lady and she told me that every day for the last year she has driven past the centre to work and so has witnessed how hard we have been working on the improvements. She seemed very impressed and was really happy with all the new facilities for the children. We admitted that we have not had time to paint everywhere yet but she was understanding and knew this was next on our agenda. Finally she left stating she would give us a very positive report – phew!Resuming the football

After all that work we all took the weekend off to return to our passion of playing and watching football. Kiptoo got the best spectator position up a tree. He invited me to join him but I gracefully declined….

Kiptoo up a tree