This past November my brother Phil and I had the most wonderful opportunity to visit my sponsored child Pleang (her name means music in Thai).
I was born and raised in Alberta, Canada. I had not traveled much while growing up and only started to see other parts of the world about 4 years ago. After travelling through Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, South Pacific, South East Asia and North America, I keep going back to Thailand.
On my most recent trip to Thailand, I was able to visit the Chiang Rai Children’s Village. Although stressful, it was one of the most memorable and enlightening experiences of that trip or of any trip.
As I had traveled several times to Thailand and Chiang Rai, I endured no travel stress, but I had never met a young girl that I was sponsoring before. Nor had I been in a meeting where english was not the primary language. Not knowing what to expect, or how well the communication would be, I felt a little stressed.
Being concerned that Pleang enjoyed our meeting and that we would be able to connect was the source of my stress. It was stress well worth the reward of meeting Pleang.
Pleang is a young girl who I started to sponsor after another sponsorship ended. I wanted a different situation in my next sponsorship and when I heard about SOS, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. I enquired about visiting the village and was told that was possible. I knew then that I would go and meet Pleang. I have always been a bit sceptical of these organizations and wanted to see for myself that the children were cared for and that my sponsorship money was being put to good use. I primarily wanted to meet the beautiful young girl with the infectious smile that I had been sponsoring.
I knew very little of the SOS Children's Village when we arrived, but by the end of the day, I felt like I was a welcome part of the SOS family. Pleang is at the village with her biological brother and sister. When I asked how she likes it there, she responded that now she is happy.
This particular SOS Children's Village consists of twelve family homes, a community house, staff accommodation, and the necessary administrative buildings. There is also a SOS kindergarten for about 100 children, both from the SOS village and local community.
Accompanied by Pleang, her house mother and an SOS representative, we had a tour of the SOS Village, the house and the school. I was so happy to see that the SOS Village truly was a home for these children. The sight and sound of laughing children filled the air. We spent some time in Pleang’s family’s house, eating snacks, trying to communicate with each other (and succeeding), and of course taking pictures. I look forward to being able to visit again. The stress will be less, Pleang’s English will be better, and my Thai will be better.