As I sit here and type this blog entry, I shake my head in disbelief. Has it really been TEN whole years?!?!
On the 7th April 2006, I moved to the small, rural village of Baan Tuek. I came here with a suitcase and a dream – to create a true sanctuary for the elephants of Thailand.
I was young and determined. I had spent the previous 18 months in the UK, founding our charity, raising funds, working a full time job and doing everything I could to prepare for my big move to build Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary – BLES.
These past ten years have been epic. BLES has gone from strength to strength and when I try and remember all that we have achieved, I feel a mixture of wonder, amazement, pride and gratefulness.
We started off with 10 acres of land and a tent – Anon, me and our four rescued dogs! Everyday we would walk the land and brainstorm ideas. We had a small team of local volunteers who helped dig, build and plant and most of those volunteers are still working with us today!
Slowly, BLES started to take shape. Everyday, I would look around me, embrace the randomness of my new, unknown life and give thanks to the Universe. We worked long, hot days, seven days a week. We were all exhausted, yet energised and excited to be a part of something so very special. Twelve months later, we officially opened BLES to the public and we havent looked back since!
Today, we provide sanctuary to sixteen rescued elephants. We have saved and secured over 750 acres of forested land and established strong, positive relationships with our local communities. BLES is a small drop in the ocean, making huge ripples. It was never my intention to be the biggest or the best. We have never been in competition with anyone and we have never cared for the politics. We avoid the dramas and trouble and instead focus our energies on empowering our mahouts, which in turn, empowers the elephants. BLES does not preach. We do not claim to be better than anyone else. We simply keep our heads down, work hard and stay true to what we believe is right. We lead by example and hope that others will want to join us in our mission to maintain a compassionate world for all the animals.
Ten years of tears, sweat, smiles, worry, work and sacrifice. Ten years of growing, learning, teaching and giving. Ten years of keeping the dream alive and always striving to improve ourselves. BLES is a work in progress and we have many more dreams to realise.
Thank you to all our friends, old and new, for playing a part in this journey – Here’s to the next ten years and all the incredible things we will achieve together!