by GALE BAILEY
Fellow BWG member, Yvonne Ziegler, had been telling me about her concerns for the welfare of the Laos Hmong Refugees who are imprisoned in the Immigration Detention Centre in Nong Khai and whom she visits regularly. On her last trip, she had also made contact with an Australian nurse volunteer, who was fund raising to equip a new clinic at Sarnelli House Orphanage in Thabo. This sounded interesting to me as having recently been ‘up country’ (actually to Laos), I was keen to explore more places outside Bangkok so decided to accompany Yvonne on her July visit. It would also be a good opportunity to personally hand over cheques from BWG and St. George’s (wearing my two hats again) as both Groups had considered Sarnelli House (www.sarnelliorphange.org) a worthwhile project to support.
To optimise our time, we left on the first flight to Udon Thani on a Sunday so that we would be able to meet the children at Sarnelli House, and caught a minivan into Nong Khai (200 Baht each). Yvonne had pre-booked a guest house on the bank of the Mekong River, called Mut Mee (www.mutmeee.com), which is where Kate Introna, the Australian nurse, was waiting for us. After a sarnie and cuppa, we set off to Thabo which is a few km from Nong Khai. At Sarnelli, we were welcomed by the children who were being entertained by a group of volunteers from Bangkok who go up once a month to bring fresh f