I reached out my hand towards her powerful trunk, to be received with a soft, warm sniff from this incredible being standing in front of me. Her eyes gently peered down to me, curiosity coming across both of us as we looked at each other. “You are so beautiful,” I whispered as I stood next to her, completely in awe of her presence, her wisdom and energy.
I opened the message app on my phone to see a new National Geographic article that was sent to me sitting in my inbox. I’ve always loved National Geographic (I mean, who doesn’t?) and look forward to the educational content and photography of the publication. I clicked on the link which took me to an article that was published a few of weeks ago which discusses the reality of tourism with exotic wildlife.
Tell me about your greatest fears, about what you want to do with your life, about what makes you tick. I would love to know what you value on this planet and about your connection to the earth. Do you have a connection to nature? Do you love the oceans or the mountains? What about animals? What do you hold in your heart that makes you feel joy?
When we set off on our Never Forget journey earlier this year, our first priority was to figure out how we would best participate in helping the endangered Asian elephant crisis in Thailand. The Thai elephants, after all, are the reason why Never Forget exists. Six of us from all corners of the world came together for our one common goal: figure out how to change the hearts and minds of people from around the world to care for elephants just like we do.
As we stepped out of the tuk-tuk into the bright sunshine, I shielded my eyes to talk to our driver. “We’ll meet you here when we’re done,” I said with a little hesitation in my voice. “Yes, yes, ok,” he replied as he jumped in the back of the tuk-tuk, ready to take a nap. Maria and I looked at each other with trepidation and slowly walked up to the ticket counter, uncertain of what we were about to experience.
They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, and well, Visitor Village won’t be either. While we’re not here comparing our quaint community in the hills of Northern Thailand to the iconic city of Rome, it sure does feel like we are building something bigger than ourselves.
It’s a bit of a funny experience founding a nonprofit. As you get to know us over the coming months, you’ll see we have so much passion for our mission and creative energy in effectively communicating our purpose to you. Harnessing the enthusiasm from 6 passionate volunteers from different corners of the world into a structured “check the box” process of founding a nonprofit was no small task.
“They’re just over this hill,” Yo explains to us as he parks the truck and quickly turns off the ignition.
Holly and I look at each other in excitement, each with our eyes bright in anticipation. It’s the first time for us to meet the first herd of the newly-rescued girls, Mo Beu Bae, Mae Tau Po and Mo Tau Bae. “What will they be like?” we ask ourselves.
A name usually tells us about a person’s lineage and has a way of tying a grounded past with the uncertain future. It tells a story of past experience which interweaves into the present. A name defines you and simply put, it makes you: you.