Camillian Social Center Chiangrai is a Catholic-run organization that caters to the needs of disadvantaged Thai children, children with disabilities and foreign children refugees. With support both from the government and private organizations and individuals, they are able accommodate these children in their housing facilities and send them to school. The center also implements community development projects for the nearby Akha tribe village.
I can still recall my first arrival in Camillian. The children were just about to have their dinner so many of them were already gathered outside the dining area. Some children touched my hand and greeted me with their wonderful Hello’s. I saw the curiosity-cum-eagerness in their faces, the kind which would make your heart flutter. I knew right then that the next couple of weeks would all be worth it.
I stayed in the Home of Charity for almost six weeks—the facility which provides home-schooling to the children with special mental and physical needs. My first few weeks were my getting-to-know-you stage. It helped that there were many volunteers when I arrived so my schedule wasn’t tight. My free times allowed me to talk and play with the children, ask the staff about what was going on and help with whatever the teachers need.
It never failed to amaze me whenever I saw the children help each other. They have physical and mental disabilities but whatever they lack they compensate with their hearts. They know each other. They know who likes eating what, who’s picky on their food, and whose medicines those on the tables are for. I was not used to be surrounded with so many children so I was very cautious, but they told me whenever they thought I wasn’t doing it right.
Later on I was tasked to teach English to the children and to the staff. I find it very thoughtful of the management to arrange English classes for their staff whenever they can. Language was such a struggle, but they all tried to make me understand, and that was one thing that made me feel at ease. I saw their efforts in making us volunteers comfortable. My courage, patience and energy were regularly challenged, but after each long day, I always feel that it was worth it. Then I looked forward to the next day.
I thank everyone who made my stay much more wonderful than how I thought it would be. It was a privilege to meet people with such big hearts for service. I truly hope that the center will receive more support so it can extend its current programs and be able to provide more efficient and effective service.
I applied as a volunteer because I wanted to help shape children’s minds. I wanted to positively influence others with whatever little blessings I have. I believe I did, in one way or another. However, I also believe that it was me who was blessed more. This experience, so far, has been the most rewarding experience I had; and I can’t be more thankful to God for giving me this wonderful opportunity.