ICare celebrating 10 years of progress in Thailand

Photo courtesy of the ICare Foundation

The Danish-Norwegian founded ICare foundation hosted their 10’th year scholarship award ceremony this weekend. The schedule was tight with more than 30 scholarships being awarded and dinner at the local orphanage.

The Wat Sa Kaeo School was packed with people listening to the success stories of children fighting for education this Saturday, 11 May 2024. The event was hosted in the Wat Sa Kaeo school’s gym. Rows and rows of chairs were lined up in the entire hall. It was the largest event to date for the ICare Foundation with 32 scholarships handed out.

There are different kinds of scholarships that ICare offers to the students. At this event there were 8 Scholarships for further education at Technical College, 11 to the Hospitality program, and 13 for the University scholarships.

The entire event was MC’ed by the Swede Jonas Anderson, best known for the Thai country music which he creates.

A thoughtful choice of venue

The event took place at Wat Sa Kaeo School. This was not a random choice. This school works with the Wat Sa Kaeo Orphanage, which is the largest orphanage in the country. The orphanage has over 1000 children staying with them. The Wat Sa Kaeo is one of the first places where the ICare Foundation began to do its work.

Many recipients of the scholarships were from the orphanage, and it definitely sets a tone of hope for the future of the kids to see their friends getting help to continue their education.

At the event the children who received the scholarships were expected to stand at the stage and share their stories to the hall full of people.

The V.I.P’s in the front rows included among others the Malaysian Ambassador to Thailand, H.E. Datuk Jojie Samuel M C Samuel, the former Thai Minister of Education and Agriculture, Mr Somsak Prisanankul, and Mr. Tong Wah Low from Brunei, one of the first sponsors of Scholarships.

Behind them were rows for the private sponsors. They came from various countries. Germany, Denmark, The U.S., and Malaysia. All gathered to watch the 32 scholarships being handed out. To hear the stories and observe what they are actually supporting.

Tokens of gratitude for the sponsors. Photo by Lærke Kobberup
Photo by Lærke Kobberup








“I am small, but I have big dreams”

So spoke one of the girls receiving a scholarship to study engineering. She stood proudly next to Jonas Anderson, who was easily two heads taller than her. Jonas Anderson was translating her speech to English for the international sponsors, as the girl thanked the ICare foundation for their support, and promised to pay it forward.

Seven girls and one boy represented the scholar receivers by telling their stories to the audience.

“Normally we hear the stories from all the recipients,” Micheal Andreassen, Director of the ICare Foundation, explained and continued: “However, this year we have so many that we had to just go with representatives”.

Gratitude, Humbleness and many other emotions were present in the speeches from the children. The tears started to pour as they shared their stories of convincing their parents to let them continue education. All of them had to choose between family and education.Mostly they had chosen education to help their families long term.

They all promised to spread the word of ICare and help create opportunities for other children. The last speaker, a young boy who will study at Technical College, finished his speech with a very authentic compliment:

“When I grow up I want to be like Michael,” he stated, referring to Micheal Andreassen the Director of ICare, who was clearly touched by the sentiment.

Photo by Lærke Kobberup
Photo by Lærke Kobberup








The work getting recognized

The Ambassador of Malaysia in Thailand, H.E. Datuk Jojie Samuel M C Samuel, has been at his post in Bangkok for six years. This was the last ICare event he will be able to participate in. He expressed his deep respect for the work that the ICare Foundation does and hopes that he can continue to support them, even when he isn’t Ambassador anymore.

“I would like to follow Mr. Low’s example,” he said referring to Mr. Tong Wah Low from Brunei, who was the initial supporter of the scholarship program. Every year he returns with donations from a list of friends. This year the list has 110 names on it.

“ICare represents the true spirit of generosity,” he pointed out.

He finished his speech by focusing on the students. Congratulating them, and urging them to recognize the gift they had been given, to express gratitude, to commit to their studies, and eventually to pay it forward.

The Ambassador was obviously moved by the stories of the children, and seemed very grateful to be at the event. He was joined by a rather large delegation from the Malaysian Embassy in Thailand.

Michael Andreassen giving his speech. Photo by Lærke Kobberup

Looking forward to the future

Michael Andreassen looked determined and moved when he stood in front of the full gym ready to finish off the first part of the event.

“I am not going to take much of your time, but I just want to acknowledge the work that these children have done. They are the true heroes of the story of today and they are the world changers that are going to go on and change, not only themselves, not only their families, not only their villages, but the country of Thailand, which we all live in and love so much,” Michael, who usually smiles all the time grew serious as he continued.

He explained how it is in his opinion possible to change the world. These children are the proof of that. He believes in what they can do in the future. He is grateful for the sponsors continuously backing the ICare Foundation, and making it possible to create this change in the world. Fighting the twin pillars of poverty and ignorance.

“As a new addition the scholars have a small symbol of gratitude for their sponsors,” he said as he walked away from the stage.

A half circle of chairs got arranged for the sponsors to sit on. The children gave the sponsors framed pictures and statuettes. These pictures and statuettes had the children’s faces and names on them. They were supposed to represent gratitude.

Sponsors receiving tokens. Photo by Lærke Kobberup
Sponsors receiving tokens. Photo by Lærke Kobberup







The essence of the event

Before the event I tried to get a statement from Michael Andreassen about what this kind of event meant for their foundation, and he quickly deflected revealing where his mind truly was at:

“A better question would be what it means for the kids, because this shows them that they can truly make a long term difference for their family and their village,” he explained.

This quite accurately explains the events character. Empathy and hope. All about the kids and how to help them. Making their lives better.

The event ended at one of the places where the ICare Foundation began, at Wat Sa Kaeo Orphanage. Jonas Anderson entertained the children and performed his music for them. All the children got an envelope with money, some milk, and candy from the sponsors. Afterwards the sponsors and children ate together. Blurring the lines and showing what the reality of life is for many children in Thailand.

Photo by Lærke Kobberup




About Lærke Kobberup

Lærke Kobberup is a Journalist working with ScandAsia at the headquarters in Bangkok.

View all posts by Lærke Kobberup

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