Thailand is a very beautiful country, with gorgeous land and incredibly friendly people. But, what a lot of people forget about, is that a lot of families in Thailand are living in what is often referred to as the slums.
The slums are communities here in Thailand that are made up of families living off of minimum wage to no wage at all. In Bangkok, the biggest slum is known as Khlong Toey. Many of the families that are living there today, relocated there in the 1950s, when cheap labor was needed greatly. But because of Bangkok’s massive growth over the last 40-50 years, condominiums and apartments were put into place of the low-rent homes that the workers were living in, and the families ended up having to live in little tin houses that are now known as Khlong Toey. Khlong Toey has been growing and is now at 1.5 square kilometers in size.
So for the July HOPP, we’re working with an organization that provides a safe place and a learning place for children who live in 5 of the slum districts around Bearing area in Bangkok.
A little back story:
Back in April, when we were really finalizing the 12 Month HOPP, we knew that we wanted to do something to help in the slum districts, but really weren’t sure what or how. So Brodie and I came together one day to talk about it, and we both thought of our old youth leader, named John Robinson, who we both met at different times, just barely missing each other at the church that he worked at. I remembered that he had an organization helping with underprivileged kids, I couldn’t remember any details of what it was that he did, but we both felt like it was something that we needed to find out, and the fact that we both knew him before we met each other, really seemed like a sign. (I know, it sounds crazy to think that that’s a sign, but bare with me) The only problem with this though, was that we didn’t remember his full name nor did we know how to get into contact with him. Hmph.
After a little bit of time, and putting this program on hold to figure out the other months, Brodie remembered that John had given her his book when she knew him. We ran out to the living room and asked her mother if she had any idea where this book was, but they had just moved house, and they have over a hundred books. We were stuck again. But determined to find it, we walked over to the book shelves, ready to search until we found it. We walked up to one in the middle, and on the first shelf we looked at, his book was sitting there. We saw that his name was John Robinson.
There was no email on the book though, so we looked him up on Facebook, hoping that maybe we could find him there. We did. But, his page was entirely private, which makes sense. So at this point we kind of lost all hope that we would figure out how to contact him. Maybe it wasn’t what God wanted us to do. But Brodie picked up the book and flicked through the pages, and she found a business card for the organization that John had opened.
We immediately got onto our computer and sent him an email explaining everything that had happened and how we know him, and waited for a response in anticipation.
A few days later, John responded and we scheduled a date to go by and see how the place works.
When we went, he explained to us that our email actually went into his spam folder, because we had forgotten to add a subject. But he decided to check the spam folder, even though he never does. He also explained that two of his staff were leaving and he and his wife and kid were leaving for a couple months as well, so they were running very low on help.
It’s really so crazy, because even when we lost hope, God found a way to show us that this is where he wants us to go. He is so incredibly good to us!
So here’s how this place works..
Because the kids are not in the nicest families, they are at too much risk to reveal their locations and names, meaning naming the organization online is off limits. But we are able to explain more about the organization in what they do and how they do it.
John and his family opened this organization quite a few years ago, and it was a pretty quick process. They knew that God wanted them to work with the kids in the area and so they started talking to their friend who had a relationship with the community already, she’s now gone but she played a huge part in starting it up. They started looking for a building, and very quickly they found one that was perfectly placed and a perfect size, so they started renting the place.
I’m not entirely sure how it worked when they first set it up, but it works like this now.
Mondays through to Thursdays, they go to 5 different slum communities and pick up the kids at 4 o’clock. The kids come and we play games with them, such as board games, PS3, Wii, basketball, ping pong, soccer, and bike/scootering. We play with them for an hour and a half, and then have Ha Nathii, which is Thai for 5 minutes.
In Ha Nathii, the two Thai staff tell and reenact a bible story for the children, it usually lasts about 5 minutes. Then afterwards, the kids can continue playing or make a few different crafts about the story. Lastly, the kids come and get a snack that also goes along with the story, and then are taken back home.
And on Fridays, from 4-5 p.m., we teach English classes to some of the children.
We’ve been working with the two Thai staff and John for the last two months while John’s family has been away, and we will continue to work with them. The kids have recently gotten familiar with us and are comfortable around us, which is so heartwarming. But the kids all don’t speak English, almost at all. Which is okay, because we really just play with them, and we also learn more Thai by being around them.
Just last week, I was playing with a little girl, and we were talking in Thai to my best ability, and she said “You speak Thai really well, I’m gonna tell you my Thai name okay?” and I said okay. She told me her Thai name, her nickname, and asked me what my name was and then we sang the only English song she knew, which was Count On Me by Bruno Mars.
There are so many other small, cute stories that we could write, but that would make this post even longer than it already is.
What we’re doing and what the goal is this month:
As much as we would love to invite anyone to come and help and play with the kids, we can’t do that. Again, just for the safety of the children and also because they need volunteers who will go continuously, and not just once or twice. It tends to confuse the kids when that happens.
We will, however, be throwing a fundraiser for them, as they are an organization that relies fully on donations. They need enough money for rent and utilities each month, snacks for the kids, and money to pay the two Thai staff that they are employing. They also love donations for the kids, such as games, clothes, toys, and anything that you can offer, so long as it works. Quite a bit of stuff from last months HOPP is going to them.
On July 28th, we’re hosting a board game night from 2-6 in the afternoon on Sukhumvit soi 30/1, at Belgravia Residences. If you want to come and play games, the minimum to come and play and have snacks is 250 baht, and all the money earned will go towards the organization. Some snacks and drinks will be provided, and you’re also welcome to bring your own. Any ages are welcome, there will be enough games for any ages.
If you’re not in Bangkok, and would like to donate, you can use the paypal link above and add a note saying that it’s for the July HOPP.
Thank you so much for reading, and we hope that you continue to follow along, and hopefully are able to start something of your own in your community.
Much love from the HOPP Team!