The Sophie Daems Scholarship Program has as its goal to finance for children under the care of the Father Ray Foundation, either an advanced professional schooling (vocational training) or a higher education (university degree). The program guarantees and reserves the required funds to finance through completion the study that each sponsored child has started. The project is managed by the Father Ray Foundation, and the funds are channeled through A.M.I.E. Belgium.
Our goal is that sponsored children, through this project, will obtain a higher degree, and as such, will have better prospects to acquire good jobs and a better standard of living and brighter futures. Once established and independent, the children, when possible and according their abilities, could in turn contribute something back. Father Ray’s “graduates” could also apply their training and knowledge to work for some time with the Father Ray Foundation, who always welcomes with open arms any additional support. Additional teaching, nursing and administrative skills are always appreciated.
Kristina Dathong (Gift) was our first protégé, since 2011, before the program was started. Meanwhile, Gift has become independent, has a job and is a mother.
In Thailand, the school term starts in May and finishes in March the next year.
In 2012-2013, two girls began studies under the project and finished their first year with success : Ooh at university and Gaw-ria for Vocational Training.
The next schoolyear 2013-2014, these two girls continued their studies and two other girls, Boong and Su, joined the program and started university studies. All 4 finished the year with success. In 2014-2015 these 4 girls all continued their respective studies, and 2 new girls also joined the program : Pop at university and Foy for Vocational Training. But much to our regret Foy had stopped school because she “had” to work to support her grandmother who is ill. For the schoolyear 2015-2016 another 2 girls joined, the twin sisters Amanda and Donna, who both started a Vocational Training. Together with the previous 5 the program then financed the studies of 7 girls. And Ook was be the first, that year, to graduate from university.
At the end of the 2016-2017 school year, Boong, Su and Pop also obtained their diploma. Gaw-Ria ended her studies in Vocational-Training that year and inspired by the other girls and partly thanks to our encouragements, she also successfully started a higher study.
The following school year, Chompoo and Dao were included in the program and we also welcomed a first boy, nicknamed Tom. His dream is to obtain a higher technical diploma. Chompoo stopped shortly thereafter, which we always regret.
And after 2 years also Dao left the program.
In the meantime Gaw-ria has obtained her diploma and we welcome a new student, Deer, for the 2019-2020 school year.
In the end of February 2013, we visited for the first time the Father Ray Foundation in Pattaya, and we were truly impressed by their work, their accomplishments and the scope of the organization : 800 children and 200 collaborators. We were wonderfully received by very friendly, dedicated, and motivated staff.
At that time we could only meet Gaw-ria, while Ooh was up North and studying for her exams. We visited Father Ray again in early April 2014 and this time we met with all 6 girls. They are wonderful children and all six of them are good and promising students.
We went to Pattaya for the third time in May 2015, and were invited by Father Ray to participate in the 2 days celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the Children’s Home. It was fantastic to participate in this in the company of all the girls, who were in holiday that time. And we also got to know the 2 new girls Donna and Amanda. All very nice girls. And they are all very nice and pleasant people at Father Ray’s. We really enjoyed that visit. After that we travelled on to Koh Samui where we met up with Gift and her family.
In November 2016, we visited again the Father Ray Foundation in Pattaya. This time we were accompanied by our niece Laura. During two days Derek of Father Ray gave us a full tour. We visited the main complex with the Vocational-School for the disabled, the Day-Care Center with energetic and happy toddlers, and the Call-Centers where disabled and blind people work. Elsewhere in Pattaya we went to the School-for-the-Blind, the Children’s-Home and Children’s-Village where in the near future a small house will be built in name of Sophie. For more information on the various sections of Father Ray go to http://www.fr-ray.org/en/what-we-do/ . At the Children’s-home we had a meeting with the six girls participating in the program. And in the Children’s Village we saw Love-Rin, the girl that is being sponsored since 2016 by our friend Dirk H under a full-sponsorship (see http://www.fr-ray.org/86/sponsorship-form-frf-en.pdf ), which runs through our Com09 program within AMIE. He himself visited Father Ray a few weeks before us. After Pattaya we went this time to Hua Hin where we met again with Gift and her family.
Laura was very charmed by the encounter with our girls. She was greatly impressed by the size of the Father Ray Foundation (800+ children in their care) and the professionalism of all of their employees, but also of what our contribution represents within the overall.
During our visit in November 2017, we were able to see all of our students again, including those who had already graduated. They are doing very well. A fantastic group together. We also met Dao, and we had a pleasant reunion with Khun Somnuk. And we went again to Hua Hin to see Gift and family.
We did not visit in 2018, but we were there again in March 2019, this time together with our nieces Sarah and Katrin. They were also very impressed with everything Father Ray does and enjoyed the meetings with our students. We also went to The Chilren’s Village where Derek showed us where “บ้าน Sophie” (“Baan Sophie” = the House of Sophie) will be built in the course of that year.
It was for Sarah and Katrin, and also for Laura in 2016, their first trip to Thailand (and Asia) and this visit has shown them a whole different part of the country and life there. We very much enjoyed their company during both visits.
And then came Covid! Just like everywhere else, these were/are very difficult years also in Thailand. Pattaya became a ghosttown. Father Ray Foundation stood firm, and provided computers so that the children could continue to follow the lessons online, including our students.
We went again to Pattaya end of November 2022, after 3 years. We couldn’t see our students because they were at school. We visited the Children’s Village where we could see Sophie’s House. It is a home for a whole group of young girls, and that makes us happy. We missed Derek who shortly before our visit had returned to the UK after many many years with Father Ray.
In the coming years, others will be able to get to know the Father Ray Foundation and our project in memory of Sophie. A visit on site always leaves different impressions than images on television or via other media.
We look forward to returning to Pattaya regularly.
We thank everyone at Father Ray for everything, and also forever Khun (Ms) Somnuk who had proposed this project to us, and Derek Franklin for all the help, the smooth correspondence via email and the reception during all our visits, in the course of all those years from 2013 to 2022.