December marks the end of my first year as a volunteer at AGAPE, an orphanage in Chiang Mai, Thailand for children with HIV. It has been an incredibly enriching experience and I feel I have received far more than I have given.
After a business career spanning 35 years and two continents, I was seeking a meaningful way to spend my “last chapter”. I found it at AGAPE.
Founders and fellow Canadians, Avis and Roy Rideout have, over the past 18 years, created an amazing project that stands as a testimony to their love and devotion to children who, through no fault of their own, have entered this world with one or more strikes against them.
I spend every afternoon at AGAPE, making sure I am there before the children return from school. I am grateful that I invested the time 25 years ago to acquire fluency in Thai as it allows me to be there as a friend and counsellor to the children. When they get home from school they are tired, hungry and sometimes stressed by a day spent trying to compete academically with children who enjoyed a better start in life than they did.
If I can help just one child articulate their dreams and steer them on the road to achieving those dreams , my time is well-spent. And every now and then I hear Thai words that affirm what I’m doing. “Khop Khun Ka, Khun Richard. I feel better now.”
Looking ahead to Year #2, I want to do more with this column in sharing my daily experiences with the children here at Agape.
Would you the reader help me? Perhaps I can ask for two things:
- A word of encouragement
- An idea for a future story
I’m no praise junkie, but like anyone else, I appreciate encouragement. More importantly, what would you most like to read about from the scene here at Agape Home? I have ideas, but I’d like to hear from you. THANKS in advance.