By Sally Golding
Gahtae is a lovely, smiling, happy and healthy seven-year-old girl. Today you can't see a trace of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her own parents. Thankfully, a concerned neighbor reported what was happening to the Social Welfare Department. After some investigation she was moved to Bahn Viengping, the main orphanage in Chiang Mai, where we work.
After the initial health checks and a time adjusting to institutional life, Gahtae joined the adoption program. She can now count in French and is learning the basics of the language, since a family in France is adopting her. Additionally, we have carefully exposed Gahtae to various situations that are totally new to her; amongst them a trip to an airport so she'll know what to expect when she flies to France. She'd never even ridden on an escalator, so you can imagine how many times she wanted to go up and down! We've also been able to take her to Western restaurants where she's eaten steak, fish and chips, spaghetti. A big change from her usual diet of rice, small fish and spicy vegetables, the staple diet of the Lanna people!
Once Gahtae moves to France, the orphanage has an ongoing program to follow-up on her with regular letters and occasional phone calls. And within the first two years she'll receive a visit from a Thai social worker, who travels to check on how the relocated children from the orphanage are doing.
While I will miss Gahtae, who is very close to my heart, I am so thankful to have had a part in preparing her for her new life.
Sally Golding is a Project Manager of the FDSC, an FCF project in Chiang Mai, Thailand