At GRACE, we love sprinkling our social media posts with the hashtag "Why It Matters" . We've been using it since the get-go, so why does it matter? Why does GRACE matter? Why does Thailand matter? Why does anything we do matter?
I mean, sure, we could hit you with canned answers like "it's our mission to end human trafficking," "kids deserve an education", "to improve their health and wellness", or "we're committed to breaking cycles of poverty and illiteracy." But let's switch things up and let me tell you about Paeng.
Angie was gracious enough to grant me an interview (as if she really had a choice, right?! :) ) so that I could get all the details of Paeng's story.
How old was Paeng when she joined GRACE? Six years ago, when GRACE opened the Korat Family Resource Center, Paeng was just 12 years old.
Paeng lives in Korat. Can you tell me more about the community that she grew up in? Korat, the fourth largest city in Thailand, is known as the gateway to the Isaan region (the country’s northeastern region). Officially named Nakhon Ratchasima, Korat is the largest city and capital of the province.
What was her home life like? Was she attending school? Paeng lived in the “Railroad Slums” of Koart with her grandparents and aunt. This community had around 35 (substandard) housing units and one shared outhouse. Her mother worked in a different region and her father wasn’t in the picture (we were never given details about that situation). Paeng was already attending school when she joined GRACE.
What kind of kid was Paeng like when she joined GRACE? Paeng has always been a quiet and observant girl; she is very smart and creative.
How do you feel that Paeng has benefited from being a member of the Child Sponsorship Program? Beginning in December 2017 [when we first met Paeng], her family began receiving ongoing supplies of rice, cooking oil, soy sauce, and fish sauce – the staples of their diet. Paeng also received new dental supplies every two months; including toothbrush, paste, dental floss and mouthwash. Paeng was enrolled in our family resource center and received educational scholarships that covered the costs of attending public school, as well as access to all activities, including English language classes. We also introduced her to Christianity, and she attended the church located at the resource center.
Tell me about Paeng’s sponsor. How did their engagement benefit Paeng? Paeng had a very engaged sponsor who gifted her with art supplies. Paeng enjoys art and often requested supplies on her Christmas wish lists. Paeng's sponsor also stayed engaged during the pandemic by sending designated gift funds for our staff to purchase supplies and gifts. Paeng's sponsor was very engaged and continues to keep up-to-date with the ministry of GRACE.
Paeng is now 18 years old; what does her life look like now? Paeng's story is a wonderful success! Paeng has been recognized in her school system as having extremely gifted artistic talent. She has been chosen to attend a specialized art school to complete her dual enrollment studies. She was granted residence in the dorms. She is very happy and excelling in her studies. Her family is very proud of her achievements.
What influence do you feel like GRACE had on her? GRACE encouraged Paeng to pursue art competitively and, if she desires, as a career. Paeng is a smart girl and makes wise choices. The GRACE staff have been an encouragement for her to live a life of honor, and to recognize she has tremendous value as created and loved by God.
Do you think Paeng would be where she is now if her sponsor wasn’t as engaged? Paeng always knew her sponsor was interested in her life and praying specifically for her and her family. I am convinced the engagement of a compassionate lady from across the world encouraged Paeng.
If we could speculate for a moment, what do you think Paeng’s life would be like if the GRACE Child Sponsorship Program had not come to her community? Girls are often considered commodities for labor trafficking and sexual tourism in Thailand; especially, if they are illiterate and have no marketable skills. With support from her sponsor to advance in academics, English language, and hone in on her talents, Paeng is well on the way to overcoming these multigenerational bonds.
Paeng's inspiring success story is a testament to the transformative power of support and individual encouragement and a prime example of why, it does in fact, matter.
It matters that you give.
It matters that you're involved.
It matters that you care.
It matters that you advocate.
It all matters.
Your gifts help fund dental hygiene supplies to the children and families of GRACE in Thailand. Because of your donations, these children are establishing healthy habits with adequate supplies. Thank you!