Group 1 – Leongatha Adventist Church
The Leongatha Adventist church helped build a meeting room, laid walls for the children’s houses and renovated the office – all in 10 days.
Group 2 – Ringrose Family
The Ringrose family painted walls and laid tiles.
We as a family were thrilled to be able to volunteer at the Kirsten Jade Rescue Centre. Glyndyn and I had wanted to do a family mission trip with our boys, primarily, for them to see first-hand how others live and experience a different culture.
As a family we wanted to give of ourselves to be a blessing to others and yet, how blessed we were in return.
The children were so friendly and embracing of us all especially our boys. We were all so touched by the experience. The evening worship and songs by the children were a highlight as was the beautiful food served each day!
We hope to go back again one day and reconnect with the kids and staff and help in anyway needed.
Group 3 – MASDAC
MASDAC (Melbourne Asian SDA Church) did optometry checks, sorted out our IT issues, painted rooms and still found time to coach homework.
ARCC is a place that highlights the love, hope and joy of humanity.
In July of 2019, I was lucky to have joined MASDAC (a church community in Melbourne) to travel to Thailand and to have met Althea and her children. I was immediately welcomed into their community and was overwhelmed by the laughter and joy of these children.
As an optometry student then, we screened the eyes of all the children and staff there and also helped with educating them with their homework. We also helped with renovating older buildings in the orphanage.
The time spent with the children was so special. I have never experienced this type of unconditional love before and it has pushed me to reflect on relationships and circumstances back home. It made me cherish all the little things in life and realise that whilst our current problems could seem impossible, life moves on and happiness and health are what matters.
After the trip, I noticed a shift in my perspective of stressful situations. I became more appreciative of what I had in life and worked harder to ensure that I made the most out of my fortunate circumstances. I developed a love for giving back to communities and have since been involved with 3 local community projects whilst maintaining close contact with Althea.
I went back to Thailand by myself in November of 2019 because I noticed how behind the children were in class during my first trip and wanted to help them with English and Mathematics this time round. I also helped with setting up computer software for ARCC to ensure Althea’s planning ran smoothly.
I had the opportunity to sit in on their English classes at the school nearby and was shocked by the classroom size. The lack of attention in large classrooms explains why children are so behind in class.
I have been so lucky to have been welcomed into the ARCC family. I love all the children there and miss them all very much. Although I couldn’t visit them in 2020, I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to maintain contact with Althea. I can’t wait until the pandemic is over and I am able to go back.
ARCC gave me so much more than I ever had to offer. Thank you for giving me this life-changing experience.
Group 4 – Collis Family
The Collis family visit and volunteer nearly every year. Their wall murals bring a lot of colour and joy and the children learn new songs and do new activities every time. Check out the tree house mural, the kindergarten wall and the world map in the cafeteria to name a few.
I think we have been to ARCC about 7 times – mostly it’s been my wife, Sally and myself – and usually we have had two or three of our three children with us. Our children are now 18, 25 and 28 years old – and usually they have taken one of their friends. Sometimes our own parents have accompanied us too. So there’s usually about 6 to 8 of us at a time. So why do we keep going back? I could bring the answer down to one short phrase really, “we all fell in love with the kids there” – adding that “we want to see them and be part of their lives”. As a consequence of that, we see that having very busy lives in Australia that provides us with material luxuries and a sophisticated lifestyle, does not necessarily equate with making time for more open and honest connections with people – sometimes quite the opposite.
Being at ARCC is about being in the moment, doing something here and now. While there is a certain joy in practically helping around the campus and working with the children and staff at ARCC, to help maybe provide some material things which they might genuinely need, that is only the vehicle by which we share meaningful time while experiencing their culture, food, language and joy of simpler things. As parents, it is heart-warming for us to see my own children recognise the value of these experiences. It has not only changed our lives, but we can see that it has immeasurably impacted our own children’s – their world view and value system. They want to keep returning with their own friends, with whom they talk often about their experiences. Our eldest son, now 28, has worked voluntarily at ARCC for several months, is well into learning the Thai language, and sponsors two of the children. If the COVID epidemic had not made it impossible, we would have been having two of the 17-year-old children over here to Australia, to share our home and go to our son’s school for two months. We will do that one day. It’s great to remain in touch with ARCC through social media and frequent reports about the children – it makes them part of our daily lives. I don’t believe our family’s vision for the future will ever not have ARCC as part of its bigger picture. I’m pleased about that.
~ Andy Collis
If you or your group would like to volunteer, contact Althea: