Hello there everybody! In 2007, 2008, and again in 2009 I took a trip overseas, through North-East Thailand and Laos. While in Thailand I had organized to spend a week volunteering at an orphanage outside the city of Nong Khai: Sarnelli House.
The orphanage is home to over 100 children and I spent most of my time there making literally hundreds of balloon sculptures, and painting what seemed like an endless stream of fantasy faces (using a kit of professional face paints that I brought along, and then donated to the orphanage), as well as teaching a couple of small craft activities. The interaction with the children also included an afternoon where I sat down with the bigger kids and taught them how to do close up magic tricks with ordinary objects such as coins, rubber bands, and the very well received cup and ball routine!
The highlight of my magical experience at Sarnelli House was the quite extraordinary and somewhat nerve wracking experience of performing a full magic show for 100 children of all ages who had absolutely no English, and me (of course) with no Thai language at all (besides “hello” and “thank you”). I used lots of visuals, vocalizing, and physical humour to bridge the language gap, and during the show had to hit the floor running as I found out the things that worked, and move on quickly from the tricks that didn’t quite translate!!
The show was performed with a tiny little magic kit that I carried all over Thailand, including a few silk handkerchiefs, banknotes, a magic bag, multi-coloured flowery handkerchiefs, an extended “Professors Nightmare” rope routine, with some magically appearing wands for the big finale; plus a couple of other bits and pieces. I really had to work to make a lot out of a little, but it was still very effective, and all the photos show the whole room full of children, transfixed and laughing - the very best reward...
It was an amazing experience and lots of fun - but also very sad. Sarnelli House is the only orphanage in North-East Thailand that cares for children who are HIV affected. Many of the children come from heartbreakingly difficult backgrounds, and it’s a reminder of how very lucky we are to have all the wonderful opportunities we have here in Australia. Id love to go back again to spend some more time, and take some more supplies - and hopefully help to create a bit more fun and enjoyment for the children at this orphanage.
If you’d like to find out more about Sarnelli House please go to: