A busy day!

The children are enjoying their break from school. This is the shorter of the two holiday periods for our school kids and they are free and restless for three weeks. Actually, most of them are restless, some of our teenage girls have a remarkable capacity for sleeping! We have volunteers from Australia, Germany, Switzerland and the UK at the moment. On top of that, we are lucky to have the company of Wang Chamchoy, a well known Thai artist and long time friend of Sarnelli House, who is teaching our children skills as part of his work with the "Thai Bev" beverage company. We are also being visited by Leon and Henriette Castermans from the Netherlands. Leon and Henriette have been coming for a decade now and, alongside their friends, Ben and Angelique Ummels, run Stichting van Sarnelli, a charity entirely devoted to raising money for the children here. We are happy to have them all here with us.

Last Saturday saw the finals of the week long badminton tournament. Each house has its own tournament so that the kids play against their peers, but this makes the competition all the more fierce. The children play at least three games so they can all feel like they have truly participated. As the week goes by, the numbers are whittled down to quarter-finals, semi-finals and then, the final pair play on finals day. To the great credit of the children, the games are mostly played in good spirits. The losers are naturally disappointed but bounce back pretty quickly. With Fr. Ole's time spent on the football pitch, and now the badminton tournaments, the children are learning how to win and lose more graciously. We have some very good players indeed, and one girl won her fourth consecutive trophy, this one at a higher level, and one of the boys won his third in a row in the junior high school category. We had two first time winners and it was lovely to see them bashfully walk up to accept their trophies in front of everyone, while at the same time clearly bursting with pride. The children are already asking when the next tournament will be and if they can practise before then.

Once the badminton was finished, Leon and Henriette provided french fries for the kids. Leon, with his team of Thor, Chai and Sake, was in charge of cooking, while Henriette, and Debbie Wilson from the UK, served the long line of kids. The children smothered the fries in ketchup and returned for second, and even third helpings. Leon decided to increase his order of french fries by 8 kg this time and it was lucky that he did as there was nothing left by the end of the party. Playing badminton clearly creates an appetite for french fries! 

The busy day finished with a visit from a Nong Khai girls' volleyball team to play against the Sarnelli House girls. Our girls had only been practising for a couple of days and were a little undercooked to begin with. However, they played really well considering the quality of the opposition and although they lost both sets, it was only by a narrow margin and the girls, while disappointed, felt they had done well. The visiting team have been playing together for months and had organised plays and clear strategies and yet, our bunch of amateurs gave them a good match. There was a big crowd cheering on and the atmosphere was great. There is talk of a rematch and our girls have been on the volleyball court for the last two evenings practising. There's a lot to be said for wounded pride! Some of the vocational school teenagers return to their studies this week but the grade school and high school kids are free for another couple of weeks. There will be swimming, football, more badminton and arts and crafts to keep them entertained. We are very grateful to all our volunteers for their time and efforts. The holidays would be an awful lot longer without them. 

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