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 →

Home and Processing

Hi friends and fam!

I’m reaching out you from this side of the world! I’m back in Atlanta, Georgia and maaaaaaann it feels good to be home. Two weeks before I left the home I caught a infection that really took over my body quickly and savagely (yes yes very dramatic but still true). It canceled a lot of my final working days and sent me to the hospital a few times. After the healing process began I was able to visit the home for one final day that ended in a bountiful amount of tears. Saying goodbye to the mothers and children was incredibly difficult, but I hope to see some of them again. Some will be leaving the home sooner than later so that means when I return I will have to seek them out in their villages around Northern Thailand. Sounds adventurous and theatrical!

My final days in Thailand were spent recovering and trying to eat as much delicious Thai food (while also trying to be considerate of my healing) as I could with friends. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out so well. On the morning of my flight out of the country to California, I had some pretty gnarly food poisoning. By the time I showed up to San Francisco, where I stayed a few days to be with my sister Emily, I looked pretty ghostly and had low energy. I miss Thailand a lot, but as you can imagine, it feels great to be home and in good health.

Before all of this happened, we had a wonderful celebration for the opening of the new home for the mothers! It was a great event that included donors, volunteers, and friends of the Wildflower Home. The building is beautiful and is full of sunlight and warm colors. I’ve said this before but I still feel lucky to have seen that project come to life.

So far, the culture shock home hasn’t been too crazy. One of the more significant moments happened when I got to the San Francisco airport.  I was stopped in my tracks because I overheard a girl around my age say something pretty dumb. I thought about how was she said odd (she kept calling things a “cool concept” when in fact they were not concepts at all. C’mon chick) and then realized that, for the most part, I hadn’t understood many conversations happening around me in Thailand. These past 9 months contained more solitude and contemplation than I realized, and there are pros and cons to that reality. There have been some other shocks – like the direct/forceful tone people spoke with in SF and the road rage in Atlanta – that I’m slowly getting used to but not trying to absorb.  I’m still in the habit of taking my shoes off before stepping inside a home and throwing toilet paper into the trash instead of the toilet (sorry, TMI?). We’re working on it.

My next post will be about some tips I would give to future Lumos travelers or those going through the Lumos proposal process. I’m compiling a list of ideas now. If you have anything specific that you are wondering, feel free to reach out.

Thanks for reading and for caring!

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