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planning to volunteer at Baan San Fan Orphanage

21 November 2010 16,199 views 17 Comments

In a couple of weeks I’m flying to Phuket, Thailand and I’ll be going to the Baan San Fan Orphanage for a two week voluntary placement. (Map)

I’ve been placed through the Work And Volunteer Abroad agency based out of London – they have a roster of voluntary places that they manage, all over the world and across a range of different causes. I found WAVA through a simple web search, they met my requirements in terms of location, timing & price and they have been excellent to work with: professional, helpful, fast. I would highly recommend them.

I’m writing this post to let you know about what I’m doing and because I’d like your ideas and suggestions on how I can possibly bring the most to the orphanage in the little time that I have there. I’ll welcome all thoughts.

About the orphanage

When the 2004 tsunami struck Thailand, Kuraburi in Phang-Nga region was one of the areas that was most badly affected. The Baan San Fan Orphanage is located in Kuraburi and offers care for children and families affected by the disaster. Some of the children who live at the orphanage lost one or both parents in the tsunami. Some of the children are not orphans but their families are unable to care for them.

(photos from the WAVA Limited Thailand Collection on Flickr)

The children can stay at the orphanage until they leave school. The orphanage operates like a Thai family: everyone contributes and younger children learn from older children, so they learn more than just their school education. Activities around the orphanage include: making palm oil from the palm trees, looking after the vegetable gardens and the chickens & pigs, making jewellery, accessories and greeting cards. The latest ventures are mending motorbikes and serving meals in a restaurant.

The orphanage is Christian and the children attend services once a week, but they also learn about Buddhism.

I’m told that when I’m at the orphanage my role will be like an older sibling: get the children ready and to school, then pick them up after school, help with homework, play, other activities, and then dinner and going to bed. In between I can also help out around the orphanage in the kitchen or garden, or I can stay at the school if I want. I’ll wait and see what it’s like but hopefully try and contribute in all the different places.

Your ideas

I’ve already mentioned what I’m doing on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and a few people have given suggestions, thank you.

Let me know

I reckon I will take colouring pencils, crayons and maybe some colouring books. I’d like to take some books to read (suggestions welcome) but I’ll have to see how much I can fit in my bag… I’d like to know more about what you think I should be doing. I’ve never done this before – I need help!!

  • What do you think I should I do before I go?
  • What do you think I should take?
  • What do you think I should do when I’m there?
  • What do you think I should do when I get back?

You can let me know in the comments below or by emailing here.

It’s only two weeks but – without wanting to sound like Maria von Trapp – I’d like to make as much difference / bring as much value as I can in that time. Oh, and it’s Christmas while I’m there – and they celebrate Christmas – so maybe that will help with ideas too…

Ok, over to you. Bring it people.



View Larger Map

other posts on Baan San Fan


Volunteering at Baan San Fan, Bang Wan, Thailand
Boxing Day, Baan San Fan
Christmas Day, Baan San Fan
Christmas Eve, Baan San Fan
“Pi Lucy”
down to business.. Baan San Fan
Christmas preparations Baan San Fan
first 24 hours at Baan San Fan
toys, books and fun stuff to take to the orphanage


  • Gavin Heaton said:

    I would get lots of stories ready. Use ones from your childhood. I am sure that for kids living in Thailand, the stories of snow, childhood and so one would be fascinating. A good fall back is Enid Blyton. The Famous Five books are great for kids 8+ … and for younger, go with the Wishing Chair or Magic Faraway Tree.

  • Marnie said:

    Not sure how old the kids are, but you could also look at games (that don’t require you to take anything!). My daughter used to like ‘duck duck goose’ – here’s a list of traditional games: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_traditional_children's_games.

    Have fun!

  • lucyjjames (author) said:

    Thanks Gavin. Enid Blyton – great idea, loved those books myself. Let’s hope Sydney’s bookshops are fully stocked. And Marnie, what a great idea, thanks for the link. I think I might learn a lot….

  • Emma said:

    Ok, so I had a few ideas… but I love the book idea too. I LOVED the Very Hungry Caterpillar when I was little – I think it captures children’s imagination’s wonderfully and teaches them about nature, life/death, and err well, butterflies. Good for younger children under 5 I would think.

    I also thought you could prepare by taking lots of pictures of Manly/Sydney and where you live and work. I’m sure the kids would be fascinated by hearing about a foreign country, and being able to see it will give them an image to build their view of what ‘international’ looks like.

    I also thought you could write some children’s stories before/enroute/or while you’re there. I remember my mum making up bedtime stories and it really taught me about how to use my imagination and creativity.

    I think I mentioned before that I expect they would love pictures of them and your time there to keep after you have gone. Kids love pictures of themselves, especially portraits or of them at school and its a lasting memory that I expect they would keep with them for a long while after you left.

    The other idea that I love to do (and I do this often!) is to make a video diary of your preparations and your time there. Picture: Day 3, departure… Day 9, Little boy hugged me today…and the like. It would be great for you to keep, lovely for them to see (you could post them a copy) and also great to raise awareness of the orphanage when you disseminate it through your web of many social media strands! Reportage!

    I can also help you with post-production (I’m getting quite good at it after lots of practise!)

    It sounds awesome – what an experience it’s going to be! x

  • lucyjjames (author) said:

    Thanks for all of this Em, excellent ideas, love it.

    Taking pictures there is a good one, I might have to work on the story telling one..

    Video diary I like too, thank you for that.

    Let’s chat more – I like what you’re bringing.

  • liz said:

    Good work with making early plans. I’d suggest chalks and wipe clean books, the fun will last longer. I had some chalks in my bag over the summer and H could just draw on the ground outside. As long as there are some slabs on the ground or cement you’ve got a canvas. Then you can play other games like noughts and crosses and hopscotch. The wipe clean books are good for inside which might not be a place you want to be too often in thailand. We had one that you had to complete the faces. Marbles? Draughts – my brother’s school used plastic milk bottle tops as pieces so losing them wasn’t a big worry. Facepaints. finger puppets. I’ve not looked at the orphanage website so I hope there are little kids too my suggestion are for smaller ones. Well hope in the sense that these things would apply rather than wishing being an orphan on anyone.

    If you need snowy pic we’ve had a bit this morning and there’s more due later today.

  • lucyjjames (author) said:

    Liz, these are great ideas, thank you so much. I’m loving all the ideas that are simple, don’t need loads of materials etc I’ll be taking a lot of these ideas with me. And this is making me remember so much about being little! We used to play marbles at school, and chess, draughts etc. There are younger children, yes, so this is perfect.
    Thank you and enjoy the snow with Chris and the girls. X

  • Cat said:

    Thin kit’s already on here, but Katie says …lots of chalk!! (Comes from her India orphanage experience) Creativity and games on the floor without the need for books and paper! You seem to have lots of very creative friends on here, offering super ideas so I’ll it back and brainstorm for a bit… I’m sure I have a stash of kids songs in my head somewhere from Lourdes trips!

  • Lucy James (author) said:

    Thanks Catherine, the chalk thing is a revalation isn’t it! And I look forward to receiving a mix tape in the post from you :)

  • lucyjjames » Blog Archive » toys, books and fun stuff to take to the orphanage said:

    […] Here’s a picture of all the things that I’m taking to Baan San Fan Orphanage. […]

  • Ricard said:

    Hi Lucy, this is Ricard, Managing Director of WAVA. We love your blog, and are really happy that you are so generous with us – it’s nice to hear friendly, supportive comments online about WAVA! We work really hard to get things right and it means a lot to us to receive positive feedback. We hope you have a fantastic time at the orphanage and that you find it rewarding and enriching. If there is anything further we can do for you, please let us know. We look forward to hearing more about your experiences. Best wishes and Happy Christmas from the WAVA team.

  • lucyjjames » Blog Archive » first 24 hours at Baan San Fan said:

    […] arrival at Baan San Fan I met Gai, matriarch of this plentiful family and an inspirational role model from head to toe. […]

  • lucyjjames » Blog Archive » Christmas preparations Baan San Fan said:

    […] not Buddhist they’re predominantly Muslim, so Christmas is not a big deal here. However, Baan San Fan was funded by missionaries and so Christianity is observed and Christmas is […]

  • lucyjjames » Blog Archive » down to business.. Baan San Fan said:

    […] the way to Baan San Fan with Karen from Andaman we stopped at Wicked Diving in Khao Lak. We were delivering hand made soap […]

  • lucyjjames » Blog Archive » Pi Lucy said:

    […] down to business.. Baan San Fan Christmas preparations Baan San Fan first 24 hours at Baan San Fan toys, books and fun stuff to take to the orphanage Volunteering at Baan San Fan Orphanage […]

  • lucyjjames » Blog Archive » Boxing Day, Baan San Fan said:

    […] Christmas Day, Baan San Fan Christmas Eve, Baan San Fan “Pi Lucy” down to business.. Baan San Fan Christmas preparations Baan San Fan first 24 hours at Baan San Fan toys, books and fun stuff to take to the orphanage Volunteering at Baan San Fan Orphanage […]

  • lucyjjames » Blog Archive » Volunteering at Baan San Fan, Bang Wan, Thailand said:

    […] Boxing Day, Baan San Fan Christmas Day, Baan San Fan Christmas Eve, Baan San Fan “Pi Lucy” down to business.. Baan San Fan Christmas preparations Baan San Fan first 24 hours at Baan San Fan toys, books and fun stuff to take to the orphanage Volunteering at Baan San Fan Orphanage […]

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