This beautiful account of the volunteer experience of Niamh from Ireland was reprinted with permission from the Father Ray Foundation. The original post is available on their website. The Father Ray Foundation takes care of 850 orphaned, abused and disadvantaged children and students with disabilities in Thailand. Click here for more information about their volunteer program.
I arrived at the Fr Ray Foundation in October 2009 intending to stay for six months, but pretty soon I realised that I would want to stay for longer, so those six months quickly turned into twelve, and even that’s not been long enough. During my time at the foundation I taught English at the [Redemptorist Vocational School for People with Disabilities], the [Father Ray Children’s Home] and the [Father Ray Day Center]. Not having taught English before this was quite a challenge, but everyone was really supportive and I can say it was probably the most enjoyable, and certainly the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I also visited the [Pattaya Redemptorist School for the Blind] three afternoons a week, and on Saturdays spent time with the kids in either the [Father Ray Children’s Village] or the [Father Ray Outreach Work & Drop-In Center] (one of my favourite places!).
The bond you make with the students and children in the various projects is incredible, they are the most warm and wonderful people you could ever meet. Watching the students in the vocational school, and how they cope with the challenges they face every day is a humbling experience. They never complain and always to come class with a smile on their faces, ready to learn, it’s a privilege to teach these young people, but I also think I have learnt a lot from them as well .
Being a volunteer is also a lot of fun, nothing wakes you up first thing in the morning like singing “Fred the Moose” (a volunteer favourite) with 30 eager four year olds. The friendships you make with the other volunteers is also wonderful, it’s great to have such support around you.
So as I near the end of my stay at Fr Ray’s I can say the past year has been the most amazing time of my life. The work the foundation does is so important, especially when you see first hand the difference they can make in someone’s life. I know I’ll miss the students and children when I go home but I’m already planning my return trip!