I arrived at the Father Ray foundation in April 2014, slightly nervous and unsure of what to expect. I settled in so quickly and it has come to feel like home in a way I didn’t think it could. Living together, working together and eating together, the volunteer group has been like a family here in Thailand, and it is so strange to be without them. From all over and of all different ages, we all shared a love for the work here.
I taught at the Vocational School for People with Disabilities for five months, and, despite the challenge of having no teaching experience, found lessons to be such a highlight. The students just love being around you, especially finding out things about your life back home (and they aren’t afraid to be nosy, so prepare yourself for some personal questions!). Living on site with them, we soon build up good relationships and I can’t wait to come back and visit them.
Weekday afternoons were spent at the School for the Blind, and my first week there was difficult, having to completely reassess how to communicate. But, as time went on I learned each child’s quirks, what they liked and how to make a connection with them. Of course, I grew to love them all to bits.
It was easier work on Saturdays, Jenga towers and fierce Uno games with the children at the Father Ray Children’s Home and the Father Ray Children’s Village. I especially loved the Drop-In Centre where the children welcomed us with screams and hugs every visit and we couldn’t get enough of their spirit.
I can’t say how happy I am that I found Father Ray, it is an incredible place full of love, and I know that when I leave, it isn’t the end for me here. If you are considering volunteering, I would highly recommend it, for somewhere that you know your work is worthwhile, as you become part of an already very well established organisation that simply relies on people’s kindness to keep it going. If you come with an open mind and a big heart, you cannot help but love it here.
Lilian – England