Until very recently this community was called KhamPhang Din, which means “The Dirt Wall”. Since ancient times the city of Chiang Mai has been protected by two networks of walls that fortified the city. The most famous wall is the well-known city inside the moat. This was a sturdy brick structure which enclosed the original old city of Chiang Mai. A less known wall was the Dirt Wall that formed a circle around the surrounding fields and land outside the old city. Just beyond that wall lived those who were considered social outcasts by the rest of Thai society – those who, for whatever reason, where not given the option to live as part of mainstream society. This community of outcasts has lived there for many hundreds of years, even though the city has long since grown up, and around, this community.
In 2002 a Christian Thai couple, Somchai and Poommarin began visiting this area on a regular basis with a deep burden to bring the love of Christ into this very poor and dysfunctional community. As they surveyed the community and talked with its residents they developed a vision to reach out to the youth in the community by teaching English and use it as a bridge to build relationship with their parents and other families. With the help of volunteers from CCF they began teaching English two days a week. They also held a children’s club on Saturdays to spend time with the kids and teach them life skills and stories from the Bible. The ministry quickly grew and each week a group of 25-30 could be found studying English and learning about the grace of God. Nowadays, the English program goes into homes for English tutoring so that volunteers can continue to build relationships with the students’ families. The children’s club continues every Saturday afternoon.
Most of the children who are from this community go to schools at local temples where the education is thoroughly steeped in Buddhism. This is hardly the kind of education that would help them break the cycle of dysfunction and poverty that has held grip on these people for many generations. The main reason that they go to these temple schools is because their parents cannot afford to send them to the private schools which will provide them a better education.
In 2005 FCF began providing scholarships for students entering grade seven to attend Chiang Mai Christian School, which is a private Christian school. Five students joined the scholarship program attending Chiang Mai Christian School and the results for these students have been dramatic. Two of the girls in this program did so well that they were invited to advance to the high school level without taking the necessary entrance exams. The two remaining students entering high school passed the entrance exam with flying colors. In 2012, three of the scholarship students graduated high school and won entrance into two different universities. Two of them – Jane and Nack went to Chiangmai Rajabhat University as Japanese and Business Administration majors. Tip entered Payap University with a university scholarship to major in Food Science.
The students who received scholarships from CCF have found that they are more enthusiastic and optimistic about having a better future than they thought was possible in the past. Additionally, they are more active in studying than the other students who are studying in temple schools. Families of the KhamPhang Ngam slum community are so amazed with the success of these students.
Encouraged by God’s blessings and the project’s results we have developed these goals:
- Continue sponsoring students from the KhamPhang Ngam community to study at Chiangmai Christian School at both the junior high school and high school levels.
- Empower struggling and needy people through career training, health education, environmental awareness, other suitable training, and in prayer.
- Continue tutoring and teaching English to both children and adults (as the community expresses the felt need).
- Bring in a Sunday school teaching couple that also has other life skills teaching experience, such as art, music, sports, social skills, etc. to integrate pre-discipleship and discipleship in the same time.
- Continue to be part of community and share Christ’s love when teams come being available to do physical acts of kindness such as help fixing houses, painting, moving, and other labor tasks.
- Develop home and group visits within the community and cell-groups in different schools and locations.