Nambucca siblings, Mia (14) and Lily (11) Kelsey, have had their young eyes opened to the inequalities in this world. The pair regularly make the pilgrimage over to Thailand to visit family, but on their most recent trip, they decided to do something to help.
They visited an orphanage for special needs children with a swag of donations from the Nambucca Valley.
“Every year we see the struggle for families with children who have disabilities. They have no opportunities for work or employment and it is so hard to get special needs met, like wheelchairs,” Mia said.
She said their humanitarian mission had taught her to be less wasteful, to appreciate the natural advantages she has (like having a family and the ability to walk) and to empathise.
“Their smiles were the brightest thing you could ever see. My sister and I plan to go back next year, and, every year when we go to Thailand, we’ll go and see them for a few days,” she said.
“Thankyou to everyone for your support.”
This is their story, as told by Mia.
We have recently come back from Thailand, where we went to visit friends and family and do a little project. Before we went to Thailand we did a number of stalls in front of our restaurant and around the community selling our clothes, shoes, accessories etc. We also sold some brand new books from the local newsagency. We collected all the money from these stalls and put it in a big tin jar. This money was for a project me and my sister decided to do.
We wanted to visit an orphanage called ‘the Boonchoo Home for Special Needs Children’. This orphanage had very little staff and over 164 children living there, all with different kinds of disabilities. They were teaching them all kinds of different subjects with little equipment and space. It was about half an hour away from where my village is in Thailand. After all the stalls and kind donations from people around the community we raised over $2,500 which is over 60,000 Thai baht.
When we got to Thailand we went and bought different school supplies such as pens, pencils, books, etc. We also bought them different types of food such as milk, chips, noodles and some hygiene packs and equipment. The last things we bought them was some sporting equipment for games, including handballs, hula hoops and different balls to play with.
One day, during our second week in Thailand, we drove to the orphanage, arriving at about 9am. The children were all sitting around this big stage watching us get out the gifts we bought for them, with some coming over to help us. All the kids smiled and laughed seeing us and some ran over and gave us big hugs. We laid all the gifts on a big table and separated the different supplies we gave them.
We met with the founder of the orphanage called Mrs Boonchoo, who started the orphanage to give orphaned and disabled children a better life and future. We gave her the rest of the money we didn’t use for future needs or expenses. She was so thankful and appreciative of what we had done.
After the children came to say thank you to us they showed us some special dancing before we played handball and hula hoops with them. We had a great time, my sister and I, teaching them these new games. We also helped them with their education and taught some of them a bit of English. After that my sister and I decided we would show them some of our physical culture (dancing) to show them. The kids were smiling and joining in. It was the best feeling seeing them laughing and joining in.
After that we sat down with Mrs Boonchoo and asked her a few questions. She said she had two of her own children that worked there with her. We asked how hard it was to open the orphanage and she said it was a struggle but it all came together and they now look after a number of children. She told us sad stories about how some of the orphans managed to get to this place. One little boy was not even two-years-old when he was left out the front of the orphanage with his dog. It was a truly moving story to hear and think about. Two years later he is healthy and strong getting well looked after.
She told us that most of the children have never known their parents and most of the children’s parents have never returned. She said that it was really hard when the children could remember family members and asked where they were and when they would come back. My sister and I were really upset hearing this but so happy there were all these people looking after these children, and glad that we had helped.
Before we left they showed us some of their handmade crafts. They would make these extraordinary plants and flowers out of clay and soap. Some were little banana trees with little bananas hanging off them and others just magnificent flowers. We bought two to take home and they gave us one for visiting and helping in such a big way. They also made cute key rings and we bought some as well.
As we left the orphanage many kids hugged us and would not let go. It made my sister and I smile. We waved goodbye and went home. It was an amazing experience and we plan to go back to visit them again next year.
We always get asked what our inspiration to do this was and our answer was this. Over in these small countries there are no opportunities for disabled children and no help or funding from the government to families with children that have disabilities. They get no job opportunities or work experience and it cost a lot of money for families to provide schooling and special equipment for these children. It is very different compared to here, in Australia, where there are opportunities for disabled children to get work or have jobs. There are also funds for equipment like wheelchairs etc, whereas over there the government doesn’t provide money for wheelchairs or other needs.
We would just like to say a big thank you to the community for supporting us and to the people that bought from our stalls or kindly donated some money. It was an amazing opportunity and a real eye-opener. It really changed our perspective and made us realise how lucky we are here and the big differences between the two countries. It really made us think of our opportunities that we take for granted, our lifestyle and our family.
Our goal was to help the orphaned and disabled children have great opportunities; to help them be happy, and to smile, even if it was just for a little while. And my sister and I can proudly say that we did that.
Thankyou, from Mia and Lily.