From following Imjai Trip on Facebook, the beautiful photos made me fall in love without my realising it. When I was invited to join the trip which also held activities to mark National Children’s Day, I did not miss this event because I was determined to go since last year.
“Last night it was very cold, at 6 degrees Celsius. But this morning the weather should be hotter, at 10 degrees Celsius,” a staff at a resort in Omkoi district, Chiang Mai province informed us. Her casual facial expression surprised me because for Bangkokians, this is considered to be very cold, that much I can tell you.
Last night I slept up in Omkoi because I travelled with World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT), which organised a trip for sponsors to visit the children in their hometowns. The trip also celebrated the Thai National Children’s Day, with activities heeld at Baan Mae Angkhang School from 13-16 January, 2017. The group of sponsors left Bangkok in the early morning of 13 January, 2017 in 6 vans and private cars. Many travelled by airplane and disembarked at Chiang Mai Airport before continuing their journey by car to Omkoi district. Mr Cheu and Mrs Yui, sponsors from Chiang Mai province drove their own car to enjoy the trip with us. This trip is special because of the high number of attendees, totalling 60 people, comprising sponsors and their families as well as WVFT staff. Everyone was amicable and smiled happily, united by a common desire to give joy to the children up in the mountains.
On Saturday at 8 am, the vans left the resort and headed for WVFT’s Omkoi coordination centre, where they changed to sit on pickup trucks. The weather was very cold. The road was laterite and the deeper we went, the more difficult it became. The path meandered along the mountains, with steep, winding turns. Both sides of the road were blanketed by the beauty of layers of fog. Everyone couldn’t resist picking up their camera phone to take snap shots of the fog blanket. After feeling tired from climbing the mountains and fully satisfied with the fog scenery, we arrived at the place where the Children’s Day activities were held.
Baan Mae Angkhang School received support from WVFT in many sectors, especially education so that the children can continuously study. The sponsors travelled to this place to give joy to 350 students and parents on National Children’s Day by handing out school supplies, health kits, blankets, toys, sweets, balloons and treating them to lunch.
Ms Nipha Thongnok, a sponsor who travelled from Nakhon Si Thammarat province divulged why she couldn’t miss joining Trip Imjai. It’s because she saw the children’s eyes sparkled with happiness when they became the receivers. As a giver, she felt even more joy and satisfaction. The number of mountain curves she had to overcome was no obstacles to her determination. Everyone who joined this trip brought happiness and wide smiles. They were friendly, had great fun and were pleased with fellow travellers. On WVFT’s work, Ms Nipha said, “WVFT has been maximising our 500-600 Baht donation by doing many things to care for our children and other children.” As a giver who does not seek anything in return, she added with happiness and contentment that “it is more blessed to give than to receive”.
In the afternoon, Mr Cheu “Sudkhet Tantrakun” had a chance to meet the novice monk Preecha Kengphasankhun, her sponsored child since grade 1. He had ordained and is currently studying in Grade 10. Once he completes Grade 12, he wants to disrobe to pursue his studies in engineering, which Mr Cheu is happy to give full support. He said that the boy had ordained to help reduce his family’s expenses. “I think it’s good that the boy is studying and is also refined through Dharma. He likes to draw and studies well. I believe that WVFT does a good job in donation management. They send his pictures and school reports regularly. On Children’s Day, he wrote a letter to wish me well. I’m now meeting the boy, which is excellent.”
The next sponsor, Mrs Yui “Sutthada Phanthi” also brought along Bam, her daughter who is studying in grade 11 at Mong Ford Wittayalai School. She wanted her daughter to visit rural areas to do activities for the children. She revealed, “Judging from the difficult commute through the forests and mountains, these people face more hardships than us. Seeing the smiles on children’s faces makes me very happy.” Mrs Yui said she used to sponsor 3 children with WVFT. However, 1 already finished schooling, leaving 2 more children in her care. She is very happy to have joined Children’s Day activities. Despite living in Chiang Mai, she has never been to Omkoi. She is generally impressed with Imjai Trip - the friendliness of fellow sponsors and the amicability of staff. She will not miss joining the next Trip Imjai.
Thank you to all the nice sponsors and followers for hanging out in Omkoi in this trip. See you again in the next Imjai Trip to Thong Pha Phum district, Kanchanaburi province from 11-13 February, 2017.