Sophie shares her experience and gifts with Thai children
Thai Mundo Exchange and Laekplian Lokgatat team was very fortunate to volunteer at the Thai orphanage with Sophie Fry. For 2 years we had heard so many great words about Sophie from her sister, Amy. They were all true. When we first met Sophie, it was immediately recognized that we had another extension to our wonderfully crazy, global volunteer Thai and farang family!
Sophie and Amy had fund raised for the Thai orphans while in Britain with their wonderful and giving family and friends. They brought much needed funds and supplies to Thailand for the orphanage and orphan boys. Sophie and her Thai hosts helped confirm what items were truly needed to help the boys feel and look good, learn, and also better fit in with their peers and in Thai school classrooms. Sophie, Amy and their British friends bought uniforms, toys, educational activities and supplies, love and so much more for their new young friends at the Isan orphanage and for children with emotional problems too.
Sophie spent long days with the orphan boys helping them with games, participating in Songkran life and giving the orphans love and caring that came from her heart. In the evenings Sophie along with Amy, Evan, Effie and other Mundo volunteers and friends visited sick and terminally ill children in a Thai hospital.
Exchanging ideas means we all learn something
Songkran at night
This year our Mundo Exchange volunteers and interns decided that Songkran water games were great and should not be missed but also decided that taking time to thank and show respect to Thai friends and especially elders was equally important. Sophie was brilliant at participating in each of our cultural outings and celebrations for Thai families and elders. Sophie helped honour Thai elders and leaders, friends and even participated in Thai family celebrations and ceremonies.
As a volunteer Sophie never stopped. Even when she was feeling ill, she found the energy to go and show respect for and help her new friends, the Thai orphan boys.
We miss you very much Sophie, but we have the wonderful memories of you and know we will be a volunteering and teaming together again soon. Your ability to show compassion, love and also tolerance for cultural, economic and social differences is appreciated by all. Sanook Mak, Sophie!
(Below you can read about Sophie’s story and experiences while volunteering with Mundo Exchange, learning from and with Thai children and adults and giving so much to those she encountered and exchanged laugher and tears with along her volunteer way.)
The Spirit of Volunteering: Sophie Fry
I travelled to Nong Khai in April with my sister Amy. She had already been twice before but I had never been to Thailand at all. We stayed at the volunteer house for 10 days, spending most of our time at the local Isan orphanage. Nervous at the thought of what it was going to be like, everyone at Mundo Exchange made it very easy for me to fit in. Our Thai hosts, Prayoon and Nalinrat, taught us about Thai culture and some Thai language. This was really useful and enabled me to adapt quickly to the Thai way of life.
I was so excited to volunteer at the orphanage and meet some of these wonderful boys Amy had been talking about for months!
The first day with the boys was brilliant. I was amazed at how happy and smiley they were. They were very affectionate and wanted to hold hands and hug you lots. It’s a great feeling being able to show them the love and caring that they may not be able get on a daily basis.
After seeing how little the boys at the Thai orphanage had it made it very easy to start spending the money we had raised to help these Thai boys. We spent months at home, back in England, fundraising so we could take as much money as possible out with us to help these Thai children. We did various events with friends and family – including Car Boot sales, a swap shop (swapping old clothes amongst friends), selling cakes and other evening events. We raised nearly £1000!
With the kind help of Nalinrat and Bobby we managed to buy so much for the Orphanage – clothes, flip flops, school uniforms, toys, games, ice creams, paddling pools, hair clippers and more. This was just amazing being able to buy all these things and personally give them to the boys, knowing they will get some enjoyment out of it, even if just for one day, month or year.
Some of our days with the boys were really overwhelming for me – lining up the orphan boys and dressing each of them in brand new clothes. This brought tears to everyone’s eyes.
We planned our activities on a daily basis to ensure that the boys would get the most out of our time with them. Although we planned as much as possible, the time of year we went was Thai New Years or Songkran. Songkran activities took up much of our time with the boys. But having said this, we couldn’t have timed it any better! Songkran was just fantastic – an event words cannot really describe. This is a must see if visiting Thailand! We spent days and nights ‘playing water’ with the boys, the locals, the neighbours ….also this was a much needed break from the boiling hot weather we experienced!
I learnt so much during my time in Nong Khai – this was purely down to taking part in this cultural exchange with the Mundo Exchange team and doing everything the Thai way, with Thai people! This was such a memorable trip – all thanks to our hosts at Mundo Exchange and Laekplian Lokgatat. They were fantastic and all such amazing people. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone thinking about getting involved with volunteering abroad or at orphanages.
It really was a priceless experience for me. There is not a day that goes by when I don’t think about the beautiful Thai boys at the Isaan orphanage
…By Sophie Fry
Volunteers Evan and Sophie with host Nalinrat
We miss and communicate as much as possible with Sophie. The boys at the orphanage still ask about her and the other volunteers who came to help them during their holiday from school.
Our Mundo team congratulates all volunteers in Thailand and elsewhere who give so much to communities in need. If you are traveling through Isan look us up and volunteer or just visit. We interns and other members of Mundo’s team know of other charities that arrange volunteer experiences throughout the world that also offer high quality cultural exchanges. Let us know if we can help. Our next project to help orphans in Thailand will be in October. If you have any free time we are still looking for a few great volunteers to help and be the orphans in Thailand.