Volunteer Exchanges of Heart: Amy Fry

Volunteer Thailand, Amy, having a great time with Thai kids.

Amy Fry has twice volunteered with Mundo Exchange and now has assisted her Thai hosts as an orphanage manager; helping new volunteers learn how to work more effectively with the boys. While home in England she is a nurse and helps people there too. Amy is perhaps one of the most altruistic and positive people we have had the good fortune to meet and maintain a growing and important friendship with throughout the years. Although Mundo and Lokgatat do not accept many volunteers at one time, all of our Thailand volunteers who assist in Thailand orphanages, small rural schools and with other community development projects do so with extreme vigour and heart. We are honoured to know them.

 

We sincerely thank you, Amy, for who you are and what you do for this world. We also would like to again thank Sophie, Sid, Mum, Erica and all of your other wonderful friends and volunteers that helped make the lives of children living in the Thai orphanages a much, much better place.  Chock Dee!

 

The following article reflects the volunteer experiences of Amy Fry during her third time helping orphans in Thailand.

Amy using her specialist medical skills with the children

Amy helping Thai orphans

Volunteering in Thailand

In April I returned to Isaan for the third time to volunteer at an orphanage in Thailand. I had volunteered before with my friend Sid and we spent time with the orphan boys during their school break. I returned again and spent more time with these special boys and also explored the Isaan area too. I was then asked to help as the Orphanage Manager with Prayoon, one of my Thai hosts. Prayoon has helped the NGO Mundo Exchange and also helped to found, Laekplian Lokgatat, a Thai community development association.

It was an amazing week with the boys at a local Isaan orphange. This time I brought my sister, Sophie, with me to volunteer and meet the boys. I was very excited for her to see and experience everything I had been ranting about since my last visit. We had done some fundraising before we left England. With the help of my friend Erica and lovely Mum, not to mention all the other friends and family who helped us raise over a £1000 for the boys. The funds bought school uniforms, casual clothing, much needed flip flops, games, toys, treats such as ice-cream, supplies for activities and more needed items for these Thai children.

Each time I return to the volunteer house and the welcoming arms of Nalin, Bobby and Prayoon I feel like I have gone home. They are amazing people and I admire everything they do and are doing for Thailand.

Our visit coincided with Songkran – Thai New Year. I knew what to expect but Sophie had no idea. She was blown away by the wild celebrations. We were lucky enough to be invited to join the neighbours and their family for a blessing ceremony. We were driven for what seemed like miles out into the remote villages, throwing water all the way! By this time it was 5pm and we were soaking wet and freezing cold! Hard to believe one can be cold in April in Thailand, but we had ice water thrown on us, then sat in the back of the truck shivering and throwing water too!

The scared, and fun, water festival of Songkran

Songkran: A Time of fun, family and friends

We finally arrived to be welcomed by a loving family. They invited us into their home and included us in their celebrations. This was so overwhelming, as we were first complete strangers to them but this didn’t seem to matter. The whole family lined up, including us and blessed the elders, wished them good luck and good health. We had just dried off and warmed up by the fire they had lit when we got soaked again!

Going back to the Orphanage was amazing. It was lovely to see lots of familiar faces and some new ones. The boys seemed very pleased to see us and immediately came running over, many of them remembering my name! I never quite get over seeing so many children in one place that seem to be unwanted or can’t be cared for by family. Some of the boys looked like they had grown which was nice to see. They still had their grubby clothes on, many ripped and far too big for them. Personal hygiene education continues to be a challenge when Mundo Exchange volunteers try to teach the boys how to stay clean and brush their teeth. Having said all of that, their big smiles, enthusiastic, enquiring and positive nature paints a very different picture.

Chilling with the boys

We also went back to the boy’s home for emotionally disturbed children.  It is very different. Fewer boys, better facilities but still these Thai children are crying out for love and attention.  Most of these boys have been either neglected, had brain injuries or need more help learning to deal in a world that is a very big challenge to them.  They loved having the volunteers with them as many of them were allowed to throw water on passing cars and people.  We danced, played, laughed and ate some sweets together too.

We had the most unforgettable week with the boys in both homes. The most memorable day for me was when we took the four paddling pools along with balls and filled them with water. We laid them out on the lawn and the boys went crazy! They splashed around in the water, whilst we had a production line going to give them all a wash! We took soap with us and by the end of the day they were all sparkling clean! They also had an ice lolly each whilst playing in the pools. I can’t put into words how wonderful it was to see them playing and having so much fun like children that age should be.

Throughout the week we visited a young sick orphan at a local hospital that I had met during my first volunteering time in Thailand. He is the type of boy that one loves immediately. He was really poorly this time. We took him some games and activities to pass the long days in hospital and tried to get him food he liked to eat. He hardly spoke but we could usually get a smile from him. Seeing this young boy in hospital alone whilst all the other children in the ward had at least one member of the family with them was heartbreaking. We felt completely helpless. Often we were there at meal times but our young boy usually refused the hospital food but would often eat the sausage we got him from Seven Eleven! It was so distressing to see him like this as my last memory of him was when he was tap-dancing and chasing after his toy car. We told him that we loved him, would miss him and hoped that he felt wanted and cared for in the short time we were there.

Time flew by; we literally had something to do every minute of every day. It was a complete rollercoaster of emotions as always. One minute we would be playing with the boys, laughing and joking, the next we would be fighting back tears as we visited daily our young friend in hospital and felt absolute despair for him.

We were so sad to leave everyone, but we knew it wasn’t goodbye. So thank you Nalin, Bobby and Prayoon once again for another amazing experience. I can’t recommend volunteering with you guys enough! It has been life changing for me. I’ve learnt so much about the world, Thailand, its people and culture. I have gained a second family and one hundred plus gorgeous boys that I love so much I think my heart will burst!