GRACE Smiles: Dental Hygiene Project

by Global Relief Association for Crises & Emergencies, Inc.
GRACE Smiles: Dental Hygiene Project

Project Report | Jul 31, 2023
The Story Behind His Smile

By Angie Sullivan | Cofounder, Project Leader

You are making this impact for many families; ensuring adequate dental care and beautiful smiles! THANK YOU!!

THAT SMILE!! Trauma to Triumph (A GRACE Boy’s Story Behind the Smile)

Our family resource center opened in January of 2017. The families associated with GRACE began sharing with their friends and family. Our registrations tripled within the first month. One such family invited their neighbor; they registered.  The neighbor had cousins who joined the following week. Mid-February, the cousins’ mother met with our director. She had nephews in desperate need of GRACE.

The boy was only ten years old. A couple of years earlier, his mother abandoned their family of five to work in the local sex industry. His father, in an effort to obtain good karma for the family, became a monk residing in a local temple. His toddler sister was sent to another province to reside with their maternal grandmother. Abandoned and all semblance of family broken. He immediately became the caregiver of his eight year old brother.

The red light district looms near, attracting vulnerable families who are struggling financially to provide for their loved ones. A vice to society, seductive of wealth, entraps many impoverished, illiterate, and hopeless individuals. The lures of provision, escape, and hope encapsulate their victims.

The routine of monks in the temple is to begin walking the community at sunrise in order to collect their offerings of food and money. They return to the temple before noon to collectively consume the food gathered that morning. The monks fast and pray after noontime. The cycle repeats each day.

The boy and his younger brother were permitted to stay at the temple with restrictions. They attended the temple school but without the resources of books and supplies. The boys would return to the temple after school to a fasting environment. Both became very malnourished. 

As previously mentioned, their parental aunt learned of the GRACE family resource center through a neighbor and enrolled her three children. The next week she convinced her brother to allow enrollment for the two boys. They began immediately. Socially underdeveloped, their excitement was seemingly uncontrollable as they entered the center to access games, toys, trampoline time, and kids from various backgrounds. They had no experience completing school assignments as the other children; their assignments were waived due to their father’s status as monk at the associated temple. They were academically underdeveloped. They were nervous to attempt English language lessons but encouraged by the other children and staff. They received affirmation and grace as they began new studies. They were fed dinner each evening which began a steady expectation for nutrition. The center provided food for the aunt to feed them throughout the weekends. Soon, they entered with giant smiles on their faces in the setting of their GRACE family.

Four months later, the boys moved in with their paternal grandmother, at which time their younger sister joined them. The five year old girl was enrolled at GRACE upon starting kindergarten. They were together and happy.

Supporters of GRACE provided sponsorship to enhance the boy’s educational, nutritional and wellness development. Provision included school uniforms, supplies, books, wellness care with dental supplies, personal hygiene supplies, minor first aid, eye examinations, nutritional supplies for his family, a bicycle for transportation to/from school, trips to the sheep farm and a cruise ship exploration, and much more. He was developing and establishing as a leader among his peers.

Then, he was gone. Our GRACE family staff and children were broken. We missed him. We hurt for him.

The boy was commissioned to be a novice monk by his father at the young age of twelve. He moved into a monastery three provinces northeast of home. This would be his plight throughout the next few years. I encouraged our staff to remember the boy and pray he is reminded of the love and encouragement he received while at GRACE.

His two younger siblings were devastated. Their countenance diminished and encouraging them became near impossible. Upon reaching age twelve, the younger brother reluctantly obeyed his father’s commission to become a novice monk. Their mother re-established her relationship with the little sister during the pandemic shutdown of 2020-2021. She returned to the sex industry in 2022. The sister was broken; abandoned, again. 

The boy completed his journey as a novice monk in December of 2022. He received a certificate but not an education. Upon returning home, he contacted the director of GRACE. He was eager to reestablish with his GRACE family. Soon, he will celebrate his seventeenth birthday. He works at a local hotel restaurant. He attends a local technical school on the weekends to complete assignments required for a high school diploma equivalency certificate. He desires to complete technical college studies in hotel management. 

The boy reached out desiring to meet with me (Angie) during my recent time in Thailand. He expressed his gratitude and appreciation for GRACE and the family he has been provided through us. He acknowledged the blessing of opportunity and love. He reconnected with our staff to study the English language in order to advance his career opportunities. 

Today, he triumphs and exhibits the denotation of “Once GRACE family, Always GRACE family”. 


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Project Leader:
Genie Boynton
Cartersville , GA United States

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