When my father first got involved in charity work in Thailand I often wondered what made him dedicate so much effort to it.
When he came back after building the school in Koh Prathong he was full of stories and information about the children he met and how we could help them. This was his first visit in 2005 and one that would change our whole family’s direction and way of thinking.
In 2006 my brother Paul and I were granted authorised absence from school so we could spend a month in Thailand and get to meet the children at the orphanage and have a chance to see firsthand what all the fuss was all about. On that trip we made many friends and we finally understood the concept of having absolutely nothing, which is hard for people over here to comprehend.
This Easter break we once again went over to work in an orphanage called Baan Kingkaew which is further north, in Chiang Mai. There were 16 babies who were about 1 year old in group one, about 30 children 18 to 36 month in group 2 and in group 3 children were up to 5 years. After this if they are not adopted they go to Vieng Ping where they will stay until they are 18 years old. At Baan Kingkaew we also met volunteers from Japan, Tasmania, USA and Australia as well as many local people.
Vieng Ping Children’s Home is for the older children and overall there are about 400 children there as well as a section for children with HIV.
While I was there I learned a lot about the orphanage which we are supporting. With going there regularly, I learned how the place was run, and subsequently the best ways the money we raise over here can be spent. Sometimes it’s in areas of essentials, such as new cots, or new tables, but sometimes it’s the little things that you just don’t think about, like a blender to help with making up baby food, or a climbing frame for the older kids to play on.
I think that from this experience I have learned that even the smallest bit of help is greatly appreciated, whether it is from one of the nurses who now has a blender to sort out the baby food meaning that she has more time to spend with the kids, or from the head of the orphanage who now knows that she has enough to keep the food coming in for the next few months.