The changing face of volunteering
Volunteering is a privilege that can be enjoyed by all ages. In return you are blessed by those you are blessing.
Agape is home to 100 children and young people aged three months to 22 years old, who have or who are at risk of HIV/Aids. Located in Chiang Mai in Thailand’s north, the home is providing a loving Christian environment where the residents are given care, medical assistance, education and nurture.
In the past, volunteers at Agape were mostly young people. But in more recent times there has been an increase in the number of ‘young’ 60-somethings looking to get involved in with this rewarding and exciting opportunity.
Three young seniors recently volunteered during the children’s summer holidays. Lurline Butler and Robyn Johnson from Keiraview Uniting Church in Wollongong, and Judith Bond from Campbelltown returned for their fifth year of volunteering.
Keiraview Church and its members sponsor eight children at Agape.
Lurline and Robyn became involved with volunteering at Agape after a younger lady from their Church volunteered for a year. She shared her story in the September 2007 issue of Insights and the article caught their attention.
This year, the three ladies returned to help the seven to 14-year-olds with music, songs, dance, craft, activities, outings and English. While the children do learn English at school, having the three ladies only speak English to the children allowed them to make big improvements in their oral English.
Sharing some stories of giving
Christine Haines, a retired Child and Family Health Nurse, is helping in the baby section where there are ten children ranging from three months to 13 months. Her husband George, a retired gardener, is helping with maintenance and gardening. He also assists with the young children at times. Christine felt privileged to be asked to help bring the newest three babies to Agape. She helped a seven month old boy and has now decided to sponsor him.
Anne Hawkins from Cessnock/Bellbird Uniting Church has been a short-term volunteer a number of times helping in the pre-school with program training and resources.
Peter and Kelly Worner from Mittagong have been volunteering at Agape for 18 months. Kelly is the International Volunteer Coordinator and Peter looks after worldwide sponsorship and visiting teams. These roles have been busy but very rewarding and they would not have missed a minute of their time at Agape.
Agape also has a Mother Baby Unit that cares for women of all ages and walks of life who are affected by HIV/Aids. This unit allows women who are suffering to remain with their children. They are provided with food, shelter, clothing, medication as well as emotional and spiritual support. Another senior volunteer, Diane Wilson from Melbourne, has just finished four months working with these ladies and is planning to return again next year for a similar time.
Agape Children’s home Chiang Mai Thailand will accept volunteers over the age of 20. If you’d like to get involved with Agape but are unable to offer yourself as a volunteer, sponsoring is another way you can help these children.
For more information about Agape, volunteering or sponsoring visit www.nikkisplace.org