March 1, 2015
Dear Friends at Xenos Christian Fellowship,
Below is the annual report for the House of Blessing (HOB) for 2014, and we celebrate God’s faithfulness once again. One of the verses that comes to mind when I think of the HOB children is the verse from Jeremiah 29:11 ““For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God gave this promise to the Isaraelites in captivity, when life did not look bright….but God was faithful to bring His children to a better future.I see the truth of this promise today, with God redeeming the lives of children from the poorest families - -we are already seeing hope and bright futures. We are thrilled one of our HOB graduates is now a college student!
We are so grateful for your partnership in prayer and finances that enables us to serve these children. May you all be encouraged with what God is doing with your gifts!
With sincere thanks,
2014 Annual Report – House of Blessing, Thailand
The House of Blessing Day Care (HOB) serves ethnic minority children from 7 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.
Students: In 2014, a total of 71 children attended the HOB; with 52 presently enrolled (their term will end in March). Of those, 19 anticipate finishing their studies and graduating. One shift from past years is that now nearly all of our children are Lahu, because those are the communities that are being served. Besides Lahu ethnicity, there was also one Ahka and one Lisu student attending this school year.
Education and Development: The staff represents two tribal groups (Lahu and Sgaw Karen). There are the three qualified teachers, a cook, and three 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. 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. Health checks are also done on aregular basis.
Christmas Celebration: Parents and special guests were treated to a morning of worship, with special musical numbers by the children. Each child received a new outfit, mosquito net, and blanket. The day concluded with a delicious lunch for all 250 guests. It was a wonderful time of celebration!
- One of the House of Blessing graduates is now enrolled at university! Our goal is to have students stay in school to reach their academic goals, and so to have one of our first HOB students in college is a wonderful success!
- Currently, 194 graduates are attending public schools in Chiang Mai—that means 92% of our students we are in contact with are still studying! Scholarship aid has been given to 130 of these graduates at some time, but only 27 of those children are receiving scholarships from the day care at this time. Most children are staying in school with only their family’s assistance. The teachers carefully monitor that no graduates are leaving school because of lack of funds or needing to work.
- We are blessed to have consistent staffing each year. The families have come to trust the teachers, and the teachers truly know and understand the slum communities. Relationships are solid.
- Parents are able to receive help in caring for their children by attending meetings twice this year. A guest speaker came from the health department to talk about vaccination and caring for oneself. The second meeting had a Lahu guest speaker who spoke on developmental stages and how to raise children.
- Consistent funding is always a problem, but the HOB has been blessed by International Ministries encouraging individuals to give to a lunch money program, and the additional support has been most welcomed. The nutritious meals that are able to be purchased are a help to each family.
- The rice program is a continuing success for the sixth year. Funded by friends in Norway, parents sign a contract stating their daycare student will not work on school nights in exchange for rice for the family. We have noted that most families are faithful to fulfill their contract, and we have children who are rested when they come to school.
- Volunteers from Japan and America add a special dimension to classroom studies.
- We have more children who want to attend school than we have resources to teach.
- Health needs, including tooth decay, lice, pink eye, rashes, colds, and coughs continue to be a problem.
- Regular funding continues to be a major issue, but we are thankful to finish each year in the black.
- 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 these problems.
Stories of Children
Recently, the HOB hosted a college intern who interviewed the mothers of our daycare students. One of the questions that she asked was what they had dreamed of becoming…..and it was a foreign concept to them. Each mother said that women simply grew up, married and had a family in the context of the village. What a difference from our HOB sutdents, who want to be teachers and doctors and soldiers. The following stories are typical of our children at the HOB, who have parents who care for them, but are not able to find work or have health issues. Still, the families are committed to helping their children get an education—allowing them to dream dreams!
“W” is a six year old Akha boy who is studying in the second year of kindergarten. He is a very friendly child with a sweet personality who smiles a lot. W was born in a neighboring province, but moved here with his father who was looking for work. His father remarried once they were settled here, and the new wife also had a daughter who was added to the family. W’s stepsister was a graduate of the HOB, and W began attending. He is doing well in all of his subjects, and seems to enjoy learning. His family is very loving, but even with both parents finding daily work, there is never enough money for the needs of the family. The family participates in the rice program for the HOB, which helps alleviate some of the hunger. W would like to be Spiderman when he grows up.
“B” is a three year old Lahu boy who is in his first year at the HOB. He has an older brother and an older step sister who are also currently studying at the HOB. The parents are industrious and hard-working, but have difficulty finding daily work to support their family. Recently, the mother has been very sick, and had to have surgery for ovarian cancer. She will now need chemotherapy for the next few months. B also has health issues which cause him to have frequent absences, but he is happy when he is able to come to school. B dreams of becoming a soldier.