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I stumbled across the Fr. Ray Foundation whilst searching for volunteer work abroad. Four months later in July 2008, I was boarding my flight to Bangkok. I arrived at the Fr. Ray Foundation in the middle of the night after a long flight from Australia. It wasn’t long until the other volunteers took me under their wings and explained the ins and outs of the Foundation and .…my toilet that I needn’t have spent an embarrassing amount of time searching for the flush button on!

Alesia – AustraliaA usual day for me at the Fr. Ray foundation included breakfast at quarter to eight, from which I ran down to my English class for an 8:20 start. I taught the PE2 (empowering people with a disability) class and loved every minute of it. My students were very understanding: “Tee-cher I think you go dancing last night….you I think….no sleep,” and smart: “Tee-cher we think you look slim today.” My students were from all over Thailand and ranged in age from 23 to 49 and are the most respectful people I have ever met.

After my class I would visit one of the old folks Auntie or Mr. Lee. An endless supply of fish food and Coca Cola’s will see your relationship with Mr. Lee flourish and gossip will see you do well with Auntie.

Alesia – AustraliaAt quarter to eleven each day I headed off to the Fr. Ray Day Care Centre. It’s at this time that the children have finished lunch and are outside playing. If you’re brave enough you can join in throwing the numerous balls around or just sit on the edge with the littlies dodging strays. I would then join the production line of showering, powdering and dressing children into their pajamas before patting them off to sleep.

Each afternoon the volunteers visit a different project. Monday is the Drop in Centre (take an endless supply of cards and you’ll do fine), Tuesday to Thursday is the School for the Blind and Friday afternoons were free. At the School for the Blind we teach English, go on beach trips, sing songs and dance. The students are all very keen to learn English and I was always surprised by the random English words they would be eager to tell me each Tuesday when I turned up, “Hamburger! Jingle Bells! Family Mart! (Thai equivalent of the 7/11).”

Alesia – AustraliaOn Saturday mornings I taught English/Australian to 3 students who are heading Down Under on a student exchange program this year. They love the word ‘mate’ and have no trouble using it. “Excuse me, I go bathroom, Mate.”

There is never a dull moment at the Fr. Ray Foundation and there is always something to do in Pattaya. There is also plenty of opportunity for short breaks to Bangkok, Koh Samet, Ayuddthaya and don’t forget your visa runs to the Cambodian border (which are an adventure in themselves….who doesn’t love lunch at a make shift casino!!).

Right from the start you are included in the ‘Fr. Ray Family,’ and it doesn’t take long for it to feel like home. I’ve had heaps of fun, learnt so much and have made so many friends during my time as a volunteer that I cannot wait to return.

And to my fellow volunteers: “What happens in Thailand….stays in Thailand!!”

Alesia – Australia

July 2008 – February 2009 & January 2010 – May 2010

Categories: Volunteer's Stories