Poverty, illiteracy and trauma are building blocks erecting an environment of vulnerabilities and hopelessness. GRACE exists to foster social change through strengthening families (because we know a healthy family unit is vital to stand strong in the challenges) and eradicating (getting rid of) the vulnerabilities of human trafficking and explotation; specifically, we work with families with children at high-risk of being victimized.
Hope comes with celebrations and is the essence and Spirit of Christmas. The GRACE family resource centers in Thailand met to celebrate and share Hope. Effectively addressing the vulnerabilities is at the core of what is done because of your generous donations. Bimonthly provisions of nutritional supplies ensures families have rice, cooking oil, fish sauce, oyster sauce and soy sauce throughout the year preventing food insecurity. Educational scholarships and free access to a formal after school program and day programs during school holidays enhances learning development and comprehension with a focal directive to promote critical thinking skills. Wellness support ensures medical needs are provided and access to adequate health, dental and vision care are accessible.
The children completed Christmas wish lists and happily received items on their lists. A nice dinner was served for the families and community volunteers as they celebrated Christmas with the staff of GRACE. Your donations are building these relationships and making an impact. The images include our GRACE families paying it forward on mission to share hope with people visiting the beaches.
Enjoy the pictures.
One of the ongoing activities of our GRACE team is to conduct home visits. Our director and field operations coordinator visited the homes of twenty families.The insight into a family's living conditions help us to more effectively provide practical services. We learn much about their economic and social situations. We gain insight into the environment in which children live. We see the poverty firsthand. We better understand their struggles and challenges. We are then more equipped to assist through providing nutritional, educational and wellness support.
Your donations are directly impacting this and following generations. You are effectively empowering families to reduce the risk of impoverished-related vulnerabilities which often lead to children being trafficked into sex and labor industries or exploited through begging for food and money. You are effectively eradicating illiteracy through providing them with access to an education. Your donations ensure better nutrition and wellness.
Although you see the GRACE staff visiting these children, it's you, too. Envision yourself in the photographs with these families as you essentially were participating in a virtual home visit.
Ken has developed into our little engineer. At the beginning of the after school program in January of 2017, Ken was of low self-esteem and had a sense of defeat. We learned mom had moved out the previous month. We also learned his teacher at school shamed him often to the class telling him he would never be anything more than poor. The staff of GRACE encouraged and assisted him with his homework. His regression soon transformed into him learning English, finishing his homework in an adequate time, playing with new friends and building impressive structures with Lego blocks (bridges and cranes). His dad works in construction as a crane operator. Mom has since restored their relationship although she works out of town. Ken is always excited when she comes home for the weekends. He likes giraffes, the color blue, eating fried rice with pork and cake, math and playing all sorts of games. Ken's story has always be one of my favorites. It's through generous donations from you, our supporters, that we are able to make such a difference in the lives of children, like Ken, from Georgia to Thailand. His story is just one of many and, with continued support, could be one of hundreds or thousands who's lives are impacted in such an incredible way.
About GRACE in Pattaya: Mai and Chan are making home visits to evaluate each family. Many are suffering with Omicron. Nevertheless, they are excited to open soon for day camp. A couple of our families are moving to their home provinces to help their older generation with work; some are going for the summer and will return before school starts in May. Some schools are providing classes to help children catch up as many fell behind this year. Many of our children were directly impacted as the main public school did not provide an online option and was closed most of the year. Our GRACE day camp program has a strategy to help the children and parents are eager for our opening. Many people have moved to the city seeking work. The cycle begins again as the city is very transient. Mai and Chan have already identified several new children for our GRACE program. Please continue to pray for our staff, kids, and families as they navigate these waters.
Our goal is to prevent trafficking of children. Occasionally, a child enters into our after school and day camp program in need of protection from their predators.
It was a seemingly very long two months when the stepfather was arrested and charged with two years of sexual abuse. He admitted to sexual abuse and providing child pornography of an eight year old child. The mother became belligerent, threatening her own mother’s life and attempting to kidnap *Precious Gemstone. The grandmother informed the police of her daughter’s behavior and intention to kidnap her from school. The police were rescuing *Precious Gemstone from her classroom as the mother was storming the school’s administrative offices with threats demanding her daughter. *Precious Gemstone was ushered to an undisclosed safe haven shelter for long term care. The mother attempted to remove her mother’s report from the police to learn GRACE was the initial report. She then threatened our staff. All the while, we are praying and trusting God as our Provider, Protector and Strength. The stepfather was found guilty and sentenced to twenty years in prison. He was required to pay retribution of 1,500 baht to *Precious Gemstone (that’s equivalent to approximately $50 USD).
Due to this situation, our Director represented GRACE on the municipality committee of child protection, working alongside the authorities and other NGOs in establishing policies and procedures for reporting child abuse, exploitation and trafficking cases. Since August of 2018, GRACE is aware of twenty-one cases within our care in which children or their parents experienced exploitation or human trafficking situations. These situations are heavy. We have experienced the forced marriage of a fourteen year old, a twelve year old being trafficked into a brothel (a different brothel than where her twenty-five year old mother works), a set of teen siblings forced to work in agricultural fields, a young mother selling her infant to black market adoption agencies, a seven year old girl dancing at local bars in the evenings, others in debt servitude, boys placed into temples to serve as novice monks and beg for food and offerings, and a mother’s agony over her nineteen year old son disappearing from fishing boat labor. These do not include the numerous children living as orphaned children to a single father, grandparents, a guardian, or a slum community leader because their mother is ‘working overseas’ or ‘working in the city’ [in the sex industry]. These cases are of those we directly serve through GRACE in Thailand.
For these and those whom will need advocacy in the future, your generosity ensures hope.
Amidst the glimmer of soon returning pre-pandemic normalcy, the Delta variant came upon Thailand as a monsoon. With hopes of economic recovery associated with tourism, hope was beginning to spark across the centers, with staff and families, and tourist on mission to contribute to society goodness. The spark quickly faded and extinguished into friends and families of GRACE not having access to the vaccinations and young families testing positive with the coronavirus. "When will it end?", a lady asked with a sense of despair.
Most of the children have no access to school with the complete shutdown. Curfews are activated. No public gatherings. Only banks, grocers, clinics and hospitals remain open.
But GRACE.... where the staff established a schedule for times of distributing nutritional, hygiene and educational supplies to the families and children of GRACE. Social media outlets have provided socialization opportunities for the families to stay connected. They encourage one another and share hardships. Determined to gain strength collectively and win the battle against challenging times resulting from the economic and health disaster, families are finding hope in the new normalcy.
Your support matters as these parents are suffering in the worst economic condition of their lives. Thank you for helping us to ensure essentials are available. You matter. Please consider donating to help with the multitudes of our families who have no job nor current source of income.
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