Last Sunday, a dozen residents and volunteers visited Agape Children’s Home in Chiang Rai to take the children on a special day out. The excursion was organised by Lee, a recent volunteer at New Life. Agape is currently home to 33 children, ranging from 4-18 years old. Some are orphans, some have HIV/AIDS, some have been abandoned or abused, and others have parents to prison. Something they all share, however, is the care and love they receive at Agape. The home has a warm, safe atmosphere with lots of colour, a vegetable garden and pets.
We arrived at Agape late morning to be welcomed by a mass of smiling faces. Introductions made, we all piled into the songtows and set off on the excursion. It was the children’s first trip in over two years so they were understandably excited! The first stop was lunch at a simple Thai restaurant where we all tucked into som tam (green papaya salad), skewered meats, soup and, of course. rice. As an added bonus, the restaurant’s dog had recently had two very cute puppies who received many, many cuddles from all the kids (and volunteers!).
After lunch, we got back in the songtows and headed to a nearby waterfall which we reached after a ten minute walk through some woods. The kids raced ahead, eager to get in the water. The waterfall itself was beautiful. The spray coming off it was incredible – we were all soaking wet before we’d even got near! A fun afternoon of playing in the water, splashing about, ensued. A few silly dances were then needed to warm ourselves up as the water was so cold. We really noticed how the older kids looked after the younger ones, acting as big brothers and sisters which was lovely to see.
We headed back to the orphanage, with a stop for ice-creams en route. Once back in Chiang Rai, it was our turn to be surprised. The children had made us bracelets and posters earlier in the week to say thank you. It was incredibly sweet and demonstrated how much the trip meant to them. Although we only spent a day with the kids, it was sad saying goodbye and there were a lot of hugs all round! It was very humbling and rewarding to spend time with children who have had such a difficult start in life and yet are so full of love and joy.
For 450 baht each, we were able to make 33 kids very happy, for a day at least. This covered the cost of the song-tows, lunch and ice-creams. I really hope this becomes a regular excursion and if you come to New Life, I would urge you to do it. Without a doubt, we all felt that we got as much out of the day as the kids.
Once again, a big thank you to Lee for organizing such a rewarding experience for everyone!
–Many thanks to one of our volunteers for this guest post