Early in the morning of November 7, the regional volunteers went to the Deutsche Bank Bangkok office where they were welcomed by the Bangkok branch Corporate Responsibility team. After a three-hour ride, the group reached the school and were introduced to the Rong Rein Khong Noo team, who briefed the volunteers on the required tasks. Before long, everyone had broken down into teams to start work on the school with help from the Rong Rein Khong Noo team. The teams worked at fixing planks to the building frameworks for walls, or painting the interior of the building.
While the planks seemed light in the beginning, after an entire day, they started to feel heavier and the volunteers started to feel sore. The various tasks helped in team building, with some volunteers helping to hold on to the beams, some drilling holes and nailing the planks to the structure, and others helping to steady the chairs that volunteers needed to climb onto to reach the top of the building. At the end of the day, the team went to a nearby temple, which houses 100 orphaned children studying at the school. The volunteers had the opportunity to interact with the children and also to take a look at the mattresses and bedding that they helped to raise funds to purchase.
The next day, more work was done to complete the walls of the classrooms. Some of the volunteers started working on murals on the classroom walls while others worked on assembling desks and benches for the classrooms. Swings, slides and see-saws in the playground were coated in bright colours, to the delight of the children, who were so pleased and excited that they jumped onto the swings and slides before the paint had dried.
On the last day, the volunteers and the children jointly painted pottery receptacles for the garden and decorated a tent with balloons for the closing ceremony. Finishing touches were added to the building, including a second coat of blue paint on the exterior and installation of the blackboards in the classrooms. During the closing ceremony, the volunteers were treated to an hour-long martial arts performance by the students under the scorching mid-day sun, which closed with a comedy act and roaring laughter from all around.
The anticipation from the children was clear for all to see. When the building was finally opened, they flocked to the building which would soon be their new classroom. At the end of the day, every child went home carrying a balloon with a huge smile on their face.
As the volunteers prepared to depart, an informal line of children bidding the volunteers goodbye formed on both sides of the roads, as the vans drove past waving children taking the long walk home. The volunteers went to lend a hand but received much more in return – from acquiring new skills, to getting to know the children and to fellowship with colleagues from the region. It was indeed a memorable once-in-a-lifetime trip.