On March 23-27 this year, I participated in the noble project of the Thailand SSEAYP Alumni Association and Fund for Friends. It is called For Hopeful Children Project (FHCP). This project was established in 1991 to cater for underprivileged children calling them hopeful children to basically create positive hopes in them to live in a competitive society by providing opportunity for physical and mental development.
The said project was first implemented at the Phayathai Orphanage in Bangkok with 150 children. On its second year it was done in Rayong province to let the children experience the beach. This year, there were a thousand delegates who participated in this project with a million budget and it was held at the camp of Royal Thai Marine Corps in Sattahip in Chonburri.
Being the country leader for the Philippines, I brought to Thailand the youth volunteers namely: Fatima Fae Tolentino, 16, Kristoffer Guerrero, 16, and Joebel Bautista, 11. We took a PAL flight and when we landed in Bangkok airport, we were fetched by Dr. Surasin, one of the staff of the project. She drove us through Sattahip and it was around four hours.
It was already late when we arrived at the military camp. The founder of the project Mr Visit Dejkumtorn was there to welcome us and we had dinner together. Then we proceeded for orientation at the other building. We were the first delegation who was introduced. There were delegates from Japan, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. I saw some old friends.
On the next day, we welcomed all the participating hopeful children from all over Thailand. There were about a thousand children. I have seen wheelchair-borne kids, blind, kids with physical disabilities and orphans. After all were in, we directed them to the food fair where stalls of food and whatnot served to the children fromThai noodles, meals, sweets to even fried ice cream.
After lunch, the kids were treated for a swim in the beach. The area was cordoned by military men to safeguard the children. Everyone enjoyed the water. They even played with sand and there were some games too.
Early dinner was served late afternoon. A dog show and a sky diving were showcased to the children. After that we had an opening program with the chairman of the military wives. There was presentation of gifts from each country. I offered abel cloth as gift. Cultural performances were presented by different groups of children. There were groups of indigenous children of Thailand as well.
On the following day, we did a round of enviroment clean up. This is to teach them to care for the mother earth. Another exciting event that these children enjoyed was cruise around the bay. Each of the delegates was brought inside the barge. I was able to talk to some of the children. We came back for lunch and there were some workshops and games.
At night, there was another set of cultural presentation where Kristopher and Fatima performed Philippine folk and pop dances while Joebel did the narrative intro.
We had a closing program where we received our certificates from the commandant himself VADM Pongsak Phureeroj and eventuallly bid goodbye to all of the participants.
On a side trip we were taken at the Noongnoch Village inPattaya where we saw different animals. We had lunch and rest. Then we finally headed to Bangkok for overnight with Mr Visit. The Japanese delegates treated us for dinner then my friend Nery took us to Khaosan Road for the children’s shopping at the night market.
On our last day in Thailand, we were sent off by Visit to the airport and bid him farewell and we expressed our gratitude for the great opportunity.