Day of disaster,
life of hope
by Sabatino Mangini 01, M04
hree years ago, Lindsey Roy ’04 began to sponsor a child through Compassion International. “By giving up one WaWa coffee a day, I could change a child’s life,” she said. The money she donated helped provide food, shelter, education and healthcare for an 11-year-old girl from Thailand named Nardrudee. “I loved the idea of making a real difference in one individual’s life and building a relationship with her over time,” Roy says. It was a decision that changed her own life, too.
Last December, Roy arranged to a trip to Thailand to meet Nardrudee. Roy’s parents and siblings decided to join her.
A few days before Roy left for Thailand, however, she discovered her meeting with Nardrudee couldn’t occur. Compassion policy required that a translator and staff member be present during the meeting and this arrangement had failed.
Still, Roy was excited to experience Thailand with her family. When the Roys celebrated Christmas day on exotic Koh Phi Phi island, they considered it just one of many memorable moments yet to come on their vacation. But the next day brought disaster.
Roy and her brother, Adam, had been strolling through the village when groups of people began running and screaming in panic and confusion. Originally fearing a terrorist attack, by the time Roy learned that a tsunami had struck the island, she and her brother were stranded atop a mountain.
It wasn’t long before they learned that the resort where they had been staying had been destroyed. “I had accepted the fact that there may be a good possibility that our family was dead,” she says.
The next morning, as rescue ships arrived at the island, Lindsey and Adam descended the mountain. On their way toward the beach, they were overjoyed to spot their sister, brother-in-law, and mother, but their father was missing. “My heart sank when I saw that my dad wasn’t with them, but I figured he must be okay for my mom and sister to be so excited to see us,” Roy recalls.
She was relieved to hear that her father was alive but in a hospital. He had suffered a serious leg injury after being trapped under the falling debris during the tsunami.
Later that day, the family reunited with at the hospital. “He started crying when he saw my brother and me because he hadn’t known until that point if we were still alive,” Lindsey says.
Nearly one year after the disaster, Roy has returned to Thailand. “I found the Thai people to be so generous, caring, and very humble,” she says. “They were so good to my family and the other tourists affected by the tsunami that I would love to volunteer in some capacity there and support their tourist industry.”
Roy and a friend scheduled two months of backpacking through Thailand and, possibly, other parts of Southeast Asia. She looks forward to finally meeting her sponsored child, Nardrudee.
In hopes of enriching the lives of other tsunami-affected children, Roy plans to volunteer at a Thai orphanage or wherever they can pitch in. A volunteer veteran after five spring break trips to Mexico to build houses for the poor and many Rowan service projects, Roy is ready to work. “I have a friend that helped rebuild Koh Phi Phi island,” Roy says. “She was traveling, offered to help and was put to work. So we are open to getting involved.”
Upon Roy’s return from Thailand, she will pursue a master’s degreein counseling psychology. Her goal is to counsel people with physical illness and disease that stems from psychological or mental and emotional issues. “I had planned a degree in physical therapy. But during my undergraduate studies in health promotion, I became very interested in health behavior change and the underlying pschological aspect in many physical disorders,” she explains. “During my last year at Rowan I knew that I would study health psychology in graduate school.”
No stranger to the joy of kindness and sacrifice, Roy’s experiences in Thailand have strengthened her devotion to helping others. “I had a close call with death that has helped me gain a fresh perspective on where my focus in life should be, what’s really important in life and how I want to spend the precious time I have on this earth,” Lindsey says. “By helping those in need, I feel as though I’m doing what I was created to do.”
Sabatino Mangini is a general education curriculum coordinator and English instructor at Katharine Gibbs School in Norristown, Penn.