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 stopped school because she “has” 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.
This school year 2016-2017 also Boong, Su and Pop will obtain their degree. Gaw-Ria ended last year her study in Vocational Training, and inspired by the other girls and with our encouragement she also now started higher studies, with success.
Next year there will be two new girls, Chompoo and Poonyapha, joining the program and we will also welcome a first boy, nicknamed Tom. His dream is to embark on a higher technical study
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 https://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 https://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. It was her first trip to Thailand (and Asia), and this visit revealed to her a whole different part of the country and life here. We enjoyed her company very much. In the following years we will invite the other nieces to get acquainted with the Father Ray Foundation and to show them our little project in memory of Sophie. A site visit always leaves different impressions than images on television or other media.
We look forward to coming back to Pattaya on regular basis, probably once every year.
We thank Father Peter, Brother Denis and Mr. Derek, and all people at Father Ray for everything, and also for ever Khun (Ms.) Somnuk who had proposed this project to us.