Volunteering for the Fr. Ray foundation was an incredible experience.
I spent a little over six months volunteering at all the projects in 2003. It was such a wonderful experience that I just had to come back! I have since decided to live and work here in Thailand so I could be close to the Fr. Ray foundation. I must admit that I never would have known about Thailand if I didn’t get the opportunity to volunteer here in Pattaya. Once you come here, there is a part of your heart that stays here forever.
Although I enjoyed working at all 6 projects, there was one project that truly captured my heart: the Home for Street Children.
I will never forget the first day I went to the home. The children had not spent time with the volunteers in 5 months and many of them hadn’t even been at the home for that long, so most of the children were afraid when we showed up. I must admit that I was a bit nervous going there for my first time too. Many of the children ran away and stared at us from afar. The volunteers went and introduced themselves to one of the workers and a few of the kids who didn’t run away. We started singing Christmas carols to get ready for our big night of caroling on Christmas Eve. As we were singing, more and more children came around to see us and to see what we were doing.
When we showed up the next day, more children showed up. Everyday after that, we had more and more children who wanted to join in the fun. Now, there is no fear of volunteers; just excitement. It is now to the point where the children chase after the car that brings the volunteers over there. The kids look forward to seeing the volunteers, playing with the toys that the volunteers bring over, and just spending some quality time with them. I don’t know who is more excited, the kids or the volunteers.
These kids come from very sad backgrounds. Everyone has a story that is sadder than the first. Many have been abused or neglected. Some have even done illegal things like stealing just so they can survive. They have spent most of their young lives learning to depend on themselves and not to trust others.
It took a while for me to gain their trust, but now that I have it, they have truly opened up their hearts and taught me what unconditional love is all about. They taught me the true meaning of love, friendship and family. All of the children at the home for street children have become a part of my “family”.
If you want to experience unconditional love, spend some time with the kids at the home for street children.
Carrie – U.S.A.
Volunteered from Jan 2003 – July 2003