HUAHIN HOLIDAY 2018
After much planning and preparation, with the help of a team of volunteers, we took the 1Step2Step group of six children on a four-day holiday to Huahin from 22nd to 25th August 2018.
The Holiday was enjoyable on so many levels. Of course, there were challenges, but it was well worth it.
[You can enlarge some of the photographs by clicking on the image]
The volunteers ( http://1step2step.org/holiday-team/ ) arrived in time to meet the children on Saturday 18th August and the children and volunteers started to get to know each other. Some volunteers thought the children were smaller than they expected.
On Sunday the volunteers went to church, Mexican lunch and took a bike trip to Kokred Island.
Monday is when the work began. Those with the least experience were clearly tentative about how they held the children, but over the time with them this got more natural. We did some play and I tried to teach each child’s stretching plan.
The kids loved the attention and most bonded quickly, enjoying having enough attention to go around. They were smiling and interacting loads.
Tuesday was another opportunity for volunteers to get to know their children and we played with the parachute together as a group.
On Wednesday, the children and equipment were packed into the bus and we set off for Huahin. The journey took about four and a half hours due to traffic and rain.
We finally got the kids into the hotel, fed them and got them ready for the night.
The children were split into two downstairs, large wheelchair accessible rooms (three in each): one room for the noisy bigger children and one for the quieter little ones. We put a shower chair in each bathroom and they had all their toiletries too.
Bedtime was different to what they were used to with pyjamas and sleeping bags. They had the mats from home for two or three to share and Mr B was in a travel cot.
The loud room lived up to its name with Mr B creating lots of noise scratching the mesh sides of his cot and thumping the base to see what sensory reaction he could get from it. He eventually settled down and he and all the children got some sleep.
On Thursday, we went to the Black Mountain water park, which was about 30 minutes away. The hotel organised two trucks called Songtels (which have two inward facing row seats.) Mr B and Mr G found this journey stressful, but once there they were both fine. We hired towels, sorted tickets and got drinks, then changed the children into swimsuits and got them life jackets.
There was a shallow pool where the volunteers sat and held the children, so they could float and feel the water, then we played in the small water shoot area and went to the lazy river. This is where you have a ring and float in the ring as if on very mild rapids. The volunteers had the children laid over them and this was very relaxing. Mr C and Miss N even had chance to go around twice as their volunteers loved it so much.
Next two of the smallest children went on the slide, but unlike last time, this slide was much faster than before, so we didn’t think it wise for the bigger children. Mr G was not keen on being held all the time, so he and Mr B had a little rest while the others continued to enjoy the water and then we moved over to the other side of the waterpark to get food.
All topped up the sun cream, drank water and then we went in the wave pool. The children loved this. Mr B tried some surfing and Miss A body boarded. They all loved the vigorous movement apart from Mr G. He went and had a rest on a board under the umbrellas. They all did really well. Just as we were starting to get ready to head home, the rain started and we all stayed in the tents getting ready to head home until it stopped.
We fed the children when we got back (massaman curry without chilli and rice) and then got them all showered and into pyjamas again. This time Mr B and Mr C were quick to go to sleep and Miss N was the loud one. She went to sleep about 10 pm.
The next day we didn’t rush the morning at all. They woke about 7am in both rooms and we changed nappies and took them for breakfast in pyjamas. The children who ate blended food had scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages and salad veg blended with a little soup and that went down well. Then we got everyone clean and in swim wear again to go in the hotel pool.
We had tube rings, inflatable neck collars and pool toys. We had a huge ball that Miss A loved playing with and cups that Mr B enjoyed filling, as well as squeaky floating toys that Miss K enjoyed.
We got the children showered and dressed and had lunch. In the afternoon we went to the mall just 5 minutes down the road. We had a walk round and picked up a few items people needed and then headed back. Some of the children got to pay the cashier too. We went up the escalator and we used the lifts. Some of the children enjoyed the lift and others were nervous, but all managed well. Mr B asked to sit on his walker seat and be pushed for a time without an emotional outburst and was so calm. Mr G really loved the fans that were on sale.
The rest of the afternoon everyone relaxed in the rooms watching Mr Bean. The children had food, this time blended sweet and sour chicken with rice and then the adults ate later. At 6pm the trucks arrived and we headed to the night market.
We sat at the table while the volunteers ate. Two ladies approached us at the tables and asked if they could give the children a toy. We said this was very kind and that the children would like that. They came back a few minutes later with six horse cuddly toys. Miss A and Miss K had them tucked in the seatbelts of their chairs with them for ages. Miss N played with hers with Helen and they were really happy. There was a human statue guy who was letting people paint him and so we helped Miss A do that which she thought funny.
We walked through the artists’ area and some of the children were really looking at the art.
When we got back from this outing, Miss N and Mr C were asleep within 15 minutes of getting ready for bed and they all slept well. Liz and I spent lots of the time that evening packing ready for travelling home the next day. At 2am I woke and changed the nappies.
As this was Saturday and we were leaving at midday, we decided to not do breakfast for the kids from the restaurant, but for all to have cereal mix in the room when they woke at 6 or 7 am. Miss N and Mr G had it with extra banana to fill them more.
About 9.30 am we headed to the beach. We set up the sun-tent and some towels and the kids played with their feet and hands in the sand. We took them down to the sea and let them look and feel the water on their feet. Miss N even got to meet and stroke the nose of a horse. Mr C absolutely loved it. Mr B was overwhelmed at first, but he really enjoyed walking in the water, feeling the different types of sand under his feet and filling the little cups with sand. He found a flower to play with too.
We got everyone showered and cleaned up and all the equipment into the one room and waited for the bus. The children had a final meal of spaghetti carbonara and we finished the packing. We left the hotel with six large bags of laundry, but six very happy children. It was clear the volunteers were very tired.
On arriving back to Bann Feung Fah, the ward mums on duty were ready to feed the children the evening meal they had saved. We got all the equipment off the bus and sorted it to be moved later in the week.
On Sunday there was time for the volunteers to have a debrief over ice cream at the mall. This was an interesting chat and I could see where I had been failing to communicate things on the holiday. I was pleased people were honest and frank about how they felt it went and that they did all have some happy moments. They all felt it was worth it and that the children enjoyed it.
It was a lovely trip and well worth the funds, time and energy. I thank God for providing all the resources we needed and keeping us all safe and well. The ward mum and nurse were so helpful and kind and loving to the children and this was noticed by the volunteers. The nurse organised the children’s medication every meal and bedtime and the ward mum helped with blending up food and feeding when volunteers had their own food to eat.
I know full well that these children are not always easy and do often take more energy than other children would. The fact that the ward mum told me outright that she was surprised how well some of the more difficult children were doing and that she was really very proud of them really warmed my heart. Seeing them sleep calmly and so relaxed after so much laughter in the day times really made me happy.
Thank you to all who prayed, donated funds, helped us getting equipment and supplies and most of all those who gave up their time to come over and volunteer with a joyful heart investing in these children and creating memories that will stay with them forever. Thank you so very much.