–By Amy Sabpisal–

Sarnelli House in Nongkai is home to many orphans and children formerly afflicted with HIV or AIDs. Every year, RIS high school students visit them with lots of donations for each house for their basic needs and also fun equipment for them to share. We also love visiting the House of Hope to donate diapers where the young toddlers are raised.

My friend Mika and I have visited Sarnelli House for 3 years in a row, and per the suggestion of Ms. Kate Introna, who is the permanent nurse there, we decided to set up a small library for the children for our main CAS project this year. It was quite alarming to realize that these children had little to no access to books and since they have very limited English, all of the books donated needed to be in Thai.

This project required us to reach out to the RIS community and our friends and family to ask them to donate new or used books that are appropriate for primary students in grades 1–6. We wanted to donate as many books as possible so that these children would have a lot of books for them to be able to enjoy. Thus, we contacted the Elementary section and asked if we could run a Thai book drive for 2 weeks. The new principal, Dr. Josh, was extremely helpful and allowed us to put a box for the donations in the ES breezeway and helped us send out an email to all of the ES faculty. We were also able to make an announcement during their assembly. We are pleased to say that the book drive was a great success with 5 full boxes of novels and even some comic books.

In order to collect money for bookshelves we sold food and drinks in the breezeway at school and managed to raise 6,000 baht. In the end, we bought four colorful bookshelves, carpets, and big pillows for the library. As you can see in the photos, today the children happily lounge on the pillows in the space we turned into a library. We hope that this project will truly make an impact in their lives by opening up a world full of stories for them to practice their reading skills and allow them to use their imagination.