We like to call Faithful Heart Foundation an “R&R” ministry. What’s the first thing that comes into mind? Rest & Relaxation! As much as we appreciate a little of that R&R, that’s not the one we’re referring to…we are a Reach & Rescue ministry.
Our ministry goal is to reach the vulnerable children in need, and rescue them from the dangers that are unique to poverty here and provide them with a safe and loving environment; a place to grow into healthy, God-loving, people-loving adults.
When we talk about “poverty,” we’re not just talking about being poor (physical poverty). Poverty is a very dynamic, cyclical condition with many facets, and especially in our cultural and geographical context. Let’s look at some of the issues that are inextricably linked to the type of poverty we find here in Northern Thailand, especially among the hill tribe people.
• Homelessness or poor housing & living conditions
• Family loss or neglect
• Food insecurity, hunger, & malnutrition
• Poor water quality & access
• Lack of basic hygiene & increased incidence of illness/disease
• Lack of education or access to quality education
• Child labor
• Discrimination & prejudice
• Risk of trafficking, kidnapping, or being sold though exploitation and debt
• Physical & Mental Abuse
• Alcohol & Substance Abuse
The vicious cycles of poverty highlighted here mean that from the very beginning of life, these tribal people face incredible obstacles to achieving a healthy, happy life.
Take an example we have seen countless times here:
A healthy baby is born to a poor, farming family in a remote part of the country. He would develop much like your child at home, except his diet is seriously lacking in many basic nutrients because the family can’t afford basic things like milk or fruits and vegetables. He can’t focus in school (it is rare that he is even able to attend school) because he doesn’t feel well, because his body is starving for healthy nutrients. But even if he could pay attention, his teacher is only there part of the time. At home his family is loving but his father has an accident while working and dies from an infection because there is no hospital closer than a 3 hour drive and they don’t have transportation. Now his mother is trying to care for him and his other siblings. They are barely surviving and high school is out of the question since he has no money for fees, no school nearby, and a family that depends on him. By the time he reaches his early teens, he marries a local woman in the village, they have a baby, and the cycle starts again.
Children are the powerless victims of poverty. And there has to be a ‘break’ in this cycle if future generations are to have the power to influence their own future. “Nearly all possible effects of poverty have a negative impact on children’s lives. Poor infrastructures, unemployment, lack of basic services and income reflect on their lack of education, malnutrition, violence at home and outside, child labor, diseases of all kinds, transmitted by the family or through the environment. For other kids, their biological development is undermined by the limitations of their environment and education.” (Source:www.poverties.org/effects-of-poverty)
These are the just some of the challenges that disadvantaged people of the hill tribes in Northern Thailand face every day. These are the plagues of poverty that we aim to rescue children from. We pray that God will use this ministry to reach and rescue children, to “stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed” (Galatians 6:1 MSG), to give these children a chance at a better life…we, like our good Father, aim to care for ‘the least of these,’ His children. To do for them what we would have others do for us if our circumstances were reversed: Help them to have a brighter future in this world, and lead them to Christ who is their Hope for eternal life.
“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’” Deuteronomy 15:11