02.04.2023 - Raymie Aukkarapisansopon

Two weeks ago today, I was added into an instagram groupchat rather spontaneously by Baikaew, one of my closest friends. Confused, I asked her what was up and she filled me in: turns out, her dad had connections with different places that had something to do with charity work and she thought that it would be the perfect opportunity for our small group of friends to do something meaningful for the community. And of course, I was on board!

So we all got to work. I invited more people to join our group, and Baikaew started to do more planning and just like that it was decided that we were to go to Wat Sa Dan School, a low income school situated in a temple. Our objectives were to engage with the students, renovate their basketball court and ensure that they have the supplies needed for the betterment of their education. After raising enough money via a charity fundraising concert we established, a donation box and lots of advertising, we were all packed rather neatly into a red-white ‘MONTRI’ van two days later and shifted out to Suphanburi province to meet the children.

Raymie (left), Wimmy Chawala (right)

we were MCs for the charity fundraiser concert for Wat Sa Dan

Upon arrival, the sun was already making its way to the centre of the sky, melting waterfalls of sweat off our bodies. Before we met the children, we all went to the toilet, and whilst walking to the toilet we walked past the many classrooms that were meant to house the students during a school day. The classrooms were small; half the size of the ones at my school and it was dark, the closed windows barred the sun from entering. Even in the dark I saw the peeled wallpaper coming off the walls and on those same walls I saw no aircon. The world is melting! Especially for us Thais with the ire that was prevalent in our sun; I was there in that school for less than five minutes and there was no aircon– here I was burning for less than five minutes and handling it terribly and some of these people are prescribed to burn perpetually for more than five years of their lives.

Hallway at Wat Sa Dan School

I stepped out of the classroom, I went to the one next to it, above the door (that was left ajar) there was a massive sacramento green sign that read ‘Mathayom 3’ in big, giant gold letters. Mathayom 3 is equivalent to the British Year 10; I was standing in front of the classroom that housed people my age, but what captured my attention was the small board that was glued next to the door - it was a poster of all the names of the Mathayom 3 students in Wat Sa Dan. Ohm, Wawa, Yean…. Their names are identical to some of my classmates back home in Bangkok, within the bounds of the privileged, privileged private school I attend. I met them and their height was equal to mine, their eyes paralleled mine, what humoured them humoured me and the songs they listened to were melodious to my ears… they were like us, and we were like them, the only barrier between us are our circumstances which are so different, so separate, we might as well have been from different worlds. From all the books and treatises I have had the freedom of access to, no words from those books could I find that can possibly describe the longing to irrevocably blur the lines between our worlds and render it equal.

After our unofficial tour and toilet break and a myriad of speeches later, we were led to the basketball court - it had been renovated! Mission accomplished! We played against the staff and the whole school watched both sides fail. I swapped out after the first round and it was then I met Wawa, a girl in Mathayom 2. I chatted with her. She was a delight to be around. She told me about her dreams and aspirations, how she wanted to be a teacher, another set of hands to mould posterity and to teach, to inspire. She promised me a tour of the school and I accepted, before being whisked away again.

Renovated basketball court!

pic taken by Tong Tong Boonchuaysream

We played musical chairs with the younger students and gave out prizes to everyone who won and lost and the ones who had danced well on the sidelines. After that we had lunch, a small white box that contained jasmine rice and pork and we handed it out to all the students one by one. They scattered themselves to eat, some forming small circles on the floor while others on small, packed tables and even staircases. I met up with Wawa again with two other friends and I held Wawa’s hand as she took us to every part of the school imaginable. I saw the posters they made for their lessons, the books they read and the toys that the younger students played with. Wawa was exemplary at explaining things. As we walked we had meaningful conversations branching off from one topic to the next. She would make a great teacher, well beloved and respected by her students and peers. She even showed me her favourite place to put her shoes! (which was a secret place, only I was allowed to know.)

The grown ups then announced that ice cream was to be distributed and excitement was bouncing off of the peeled walls of the school like a dodgeball, an infectious one at that. Me and Wawa were significantly away from the hall in which the ice cream was to be served. Whilst we were walking back, she turned to me and made me promise with all that I had to get her back to the main hall in time for the ice cream. Her voice was desperate and her eyes were wide with worry, and that broke my heart a little more. Fortunately, she did get her ice cream - lime flavoured - and her smile, one that showed her pearly white teeth, stitched my heart back together whilst the cogs of my brain turned and turned and turned as it tried to find solutions to get all the students everlasting icecream for as long as the world was willing to turn.

Icecream at Wat Sa Dan

Baikaew's parents bought icecream for everyone

After the ice cream and a few more activities, we left the school at 13:20 pm. I gave Wawa a big, massive bear hug and told her that I would come visit again. I was then bombarded by love from all the other students - we all were. I spent 5 minutes hugging one small child to the next. Nirada (a friend) even had a kid asking for her facebook and Wimmy took decades to make her way through the younger students who encompassed her. But when we all eventually got on the bus, our hands still waving on their own accord, I knew right then and there that my words to Wawa were not empty: I will revisit Wat Sa Dan again. Even though we’ve given out school supplies and renovated the basketball court and henceforth completed our mission, I am nowhere near done yet.

The Bangkok traffic was horrendous but for the first time in a while I was grateful for it, it gave me ample time to reflect. In fact, I was grateful for many things, most notably my extreme privilege. Spending a day at Wat Sa Dan had highlighted my privilege in very bold colours, like a neon yellow highlighter against white paper. Whilst I am extremely grateful for the luxuries I experience in life, I can’t help but to want to continuously find ways to split my privilege and cut them into slices for Wawa and everyone else at Wat Sa Dan School and the rest of the underprivileged as a whole.

I want to help them, I want to build businesses, empires of gold and silver, to perpetually help these children. I want to go to sleep at night knowing that my fellow brothers and sisters out there are comfortable and happy, living their best lives, following the trail to their dreams, with two gigantic bowls of ice cream in each of their hands and a bright, big smile on their faces.


Let me introduce myself: hello! I’m Raymie and you are now in the root of all my ramblings – welcome to Rickweet! I truly appreciate your presence here!


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