Natalie Cataldo
Natalie Cataldo
Thailand 2018 - 2019
Sawadee Ka! My name is Natalie Cataldo, and I am in Thailand serving as a grant writer for the Wildflower Home in Chiang Mai and the Good Shepherd Youth Center in Chiang Rai. The sister organizations provide free long-term housing, education, recovery programs, and legal assistance for young women and single mothers who have sought help from dishonorable treatment (i.e. racial discrimination, domestic violence, etc.). I am truly honored to be given the opportunity to work with these organizations! Read More About Natalie →

Update: I’m doing just fine!

 Friends and family! I am alive and well!! 

I have officially been in Chiang Mai for 13 days, and it has been a complete rollercoaster of emotions. The first two days of my transition were incredibly difficult. I arrived to the Wildflower Home with a heavy heart as I began to feel the shock of understanding how far away from home I was. This was expected, yet it was hard for me to receive the warm welcome from the residents of the Wildflower Home. I arrived around noon last Thursday to the home and spent the day at the compound settling in to my room and napping. With the help of a nap and a good nights rest I, thankfully, have not suffered from any jet lag. Khop khun pra jaaw (thank God!!).  Here are some pictures of the Wildflower Home!

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Here is the home where the office, kitchen, children’s play area and sewing room are all located! It is a beautiful building and creates a serene environment for all that takes place within in it!

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This is the path that leads to the volunteer home where I am staying. It is a beautiful walk but at night it can be truly terrifying. The women that live at the Wildflower Home are spread out in many different small buildings across the property. Two mothers and six children live in the house with me!

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This is the home where I live. It is located next to the farm on the property, so I usually wake up between 5:30-6:30am when the animals start crowing/screaming/singing/mooing/yodeling/ cackling/whatever they do. 

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The staircase up to my room. You can’t really tell from this photo, but the width of the staircase is quite small! 

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My room! Behind the curtain is a small bathroom. 

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The other side of my room!

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The homes that the Sisters live in. Surprise! I live in a convent! The Wildflower Home is a continuation of The Sisters of the Good Shepherd founded by Saint Mary Euphrasia Pelletier in Angers, France in 1835. Although I am not Catholic and I am not here to further their religious mission, I am excited to learn more about Catholicism and Buddhism (over 90% of the country claim to have Buddhist faith)!

The first week of being here has been predominately focused around getting me settled, mentally and legally. I have been to the malls around Chiang Mai almost every day because the immigration offices or important resources are located within them. I have seen and done a lot throughout my nine days here, and I am grateful to say I have found friends to do things with on the weekends! Here are some pictures of them!

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Since being here, I have written and organized documents for the future WFH volunteers, including “letters of invitation” so they can be granted a VISA to enter into Thailand. For this week, I will begin my position as the grant writer for the Wildflower Home!  I am excited to really apply the knowledge I acquired from learning about grant writing (and social entrepreneurship in general) during my time at Belmont. I think the beginning process will be tricky because there are financial documents that I will need to locate around the office and in the computers. I also will be creating a timeline of grant deadlines so I can be on track with applying or reapplying to the foundations and/or sole funders.

I am really, really excited that I get to be here for 10 months. The transition part isn’t over – I am still homesick at times and I am constantly wishing that the ones that I love could be here experiencing this with me. But I feel grateful to say that this time away from my community and away from the culture I know/love enables me to see how much of my life is truly meaningful. That may be an unexpected ending to the sentence you just read, but I mean it! Life, in all facets, is meaningful and purposeful. And although it does not take opportunities like the one I am on to recognize this, I am thankful that this opportunity is constantly reminding me of this belief. 

I will write soon! Kob kun ka (thank you)!! Thai language tutoring starts this week.

 

 

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