February 11, 2014
Dear Friends at Xenos Christian Fellowship,
Below is the annual report for the House of Blessing. When we look back at the past 12 years of serving the ethnic minority children, we are thrilled to report 90% of them are staying in school. While we can’t attribute it solely to the education start that they received at HOB, I do know that having the children learn in a safe environment, and helping parents understand the Thai school system must have made a positive difference. We are so grateful for your partnership in this valuable ministry - enjoy the photos and report!
With sincere thanks,
For more information, go to www.hopeforhilltribes.org.
Since 2001, the House of Blessing (HOB) has been serving ethnic minority children from urban slum communities in Chiang Mai, providing a preschool program that stimulates intellectual, social, spiritual, emotional and physical development of the children in their care.
The objectives written over a dozen years ago are still relevant today:
- Ethnic minority children living in the slums will have a safe and stable environment with trusted adults.
- Ethnic minority children living in the slums will be involved in activities that help them develop and prepare them for school.
- Ethnic minority children living in the slums will have proper nutrition and medical care.
- Ethnic minority parents living in the slums will receive instruction concerning childcare and development, AIDS, drugs, sanitation, and hygiene.
The HOB’s goal of having each child continue in public school after graduation from the center has been met over and over. We have had a total of 297 students at the HOB. There are 47 children currently studying. Of the 250 students who have left the center, 54 cannot be followed (slum communities are very transitory). Of the 177 graduates, the teachers know of 17 students who did not continue in public school—which means 90% of our kids are still in school! We are pleased to report that 4 have continued their education beyond the compulsory 9th grade level.
Students: A total of 70 children (13 Akha, 54 Lahu, 2 Tai Yai, and 1 Lisu) attended the center over the past twelve months. Seventeen children graduated from the center in May, and all are continuing their studies. The twenty two students who are receiving scholarships are also being followed with visits to their homes and schools on a regular basis. Presently there are 47 students attending the center. Sadly, two of our students who were brothers died during the school year, due to a drowning accident. There are also 4 students who have left the area, with 3 known to be studying and 1 who is unable to be followed.
Daily studies: Education and Development: The staff represents two tribal groups (Lahu and Sgaw Karen). There are the three qualified teachers, one teacher’s aide who helped for part of the school year, a cook, and two drivers who take the children back and forth from their homes to the center. There are several volunteers who assist with the program as well, including ones from America and Japan. The teachers have planned a curriculum designed to develop a child’s language, listening, reading, and writing skills, as well as promote their physical, emotional, social, and spiritual growth. The children are divided into three groups for their lessons based on their ages and abilities.
Health and Hygiene: There is also an emphasis to teach good hygiene, which includes proper use of the bathroom, handwashing, tooth brushing and general cleanliness.
Special Activities: Highlights include
1. Parents meetings: Two meeting were held during the year (one on Christian family life and the roles of parents and the other on citizenship laws).
2. Parents also attended the Christmas celebration, and each class presented special musical numbers during the program.
3. Field trips included visits to the Chiang Mai Zoo, the Night Safari, and the Ratchapruek Gardens.
4. Guests are always a fun break in the routine, and 115 guests were welcomed to the HOB this past year. Some provided special programs, like a clown and a singer.
5. The Japanese, through the GGP Fund, provided the majority of funding for the daycare/boys’ dorm building, and an official visited the program and was well satisfied with how the HOB is doing.
It is wonderful to not move (ever again)! In the first years of the project, we were changing locations about every 2 years. We love using the spacious classrooms, the covered playground plus the basketball court, and a spotless kitchen to prepare meals for the preschoolers.
We were able to purchase a second vehicle this year to help with transportation.
The rice program funded by friends in Norway is in its 5th year and is a huge success. Parents sign a contract stating their daycare student will not work on school nights in exchange for rice for the family. Most families are faithful to fulfill their contract, and we have children who are rested when they come to school.
The IMEMF staff helped to build a walkway in one of the slums. It had been extremely dangerous for the children in the rainy season.
Parents are able to work outside the home because they know their children are being cared for.
Families receiving scholarships are grateful for the help in keeping their students enrolled in public school.
The lunch money program started by International Ministries has 15 regular donors, and the additional monies have been most welcomed.
The different communities have a deep sense of trust of the day care teachers, and call them when one of the day care children is experiencing abuse or other deep issues.
While we still have scholarships for the most needy (22 students are receiving extra help in this way), more children are staying in school with only their family’s assistance.
While we love the having a stable location for the HOB, the location from the slum communities is a bit far. We are thankful we have been able to buy another vehicle to help with transportation issues.
Families continue to face problems as in the past, including low income, lack of regular work, no vocation, not owning a home, no citizenship, and divorce. There are parents struggling with AIDS, ones who use their children to work, and others who are abusive to one another and their children. The HOB staff teaches child rights and protection issues, and works with the Social Welfare department, but there are limited resources and answers to this issue. The teachers carefully monitor that no graduates are leaving school because of lack of funds or to work.
Health needs, including tooth decay, lice, pink eye, rashes, colds, and coughs continue to be a problem.
One Child’s Story
"Tee" is a 4 year old Lahu girl who is in her first year of kindergarten at the HOB. She has an older brother who recently graduated from the center, and also an older sister. The family has many social issues, stemming from the fact that the father struggles with alcohol and drug abuse. While drunk, he would physically abuse his wife, and she left him with the three children. The oldest child is only 10 years old, but she has helped in raising her younger siblings this year, and Tee comes to school clean and fed. She is a bright student who enjoys her studies. The daycare teachers interact with the father to work through his addictions, but the problems continue.
More Photos from the House of Blessing
Field trips to the aquarium provide a fun way to learn!
Up close and personal with animals at the Chiang Mai Zoo!
The rice program is in its 5th year, and has been a great success.