Halfway March, seven girls graduated middle or high school! They will now set off for further education in a college or university.
We know that it can be hard for the girls to go to school and meet all required expectations. That makes it even more wonderful to see these seven girls grow, learn and be ready for their next step in life. We are so proud of them!
To celebrate, we hosted our annual graduation party. It’s a time to reflect and be grateful. Some girls really speak from their hearts on these evenings and express their thanks to the ‘mothers’, their teachers and sponsors. Without them it literally would not have been possible!
One girl expressed it well: “Baan Phak Phing gave me the opportunity to go to school, something I never thought to be possible when I still lived at home. Because of the financial situation of my family, I needed to work in the rice fields instead.” It’s amazing to see lives changed!
In 1987, Christine Overeem left the Netherlands and moved to Thailand to start Baan Phak Phing (‘shelter’) together with her co-worker Heidi. This safe house for abused girls has been a safe haven for many. In 2018, Christine handed over the work to the Thai staff under whose guidance the girls are in good hands. Until 2020, Christine remained connected to the Dutch Baan Phak Phing Foundation as a board member.
It is hard to put into words just how much groundbreaking work she has done for these girls. We are incredibly thankful. Christine, thank you for your passion, tireless efforts, and love for these girls, and for the great teamwork with the foundation in the Netherlands. As a founder, your name will always be associated with Baan Phak Phing. It truly is a great legacy.
Christine has entered a new season in her life and continues to build others up through a new ministry: Heart to Heart Thailand. Together with a small team, she uses her experience and knowledge to disciple, and train leaders in both the Thai and international community. Heart to Heart Thailand offers coaching, debriefing sessions, Bible studies and a prayer ministry. They also aim to support the local church.
Last month we welcomed three new girls in Baan Phak Phing. The first girl, only six years old, was very sad. She kept on crying. Then another girl stepped in and played with her so that the girl could be distracted from her fear and sadness. This new young girl didn’t own any pyjamas so the staff took her to the shop to buy one. When they came back, another mom asked what she had bought. When the girl showed her new pyjamas the mother joked that she was jealous and would want pyjamas like that for herself. Then the girl answered she was way too big and it wouldn’t fit. Everyone laughed and eventually even the young girl joined in with a smile from ear to ear and a twinkle in her eyes. It made our hearts melt, we were so happy she could forget her pain for a moment. We are happy to say that she now has found her way and is settled within the family.
The other two girls came a week later. They are sisters, aged 7 and 8. When they arrived there was a lot of paperwork to be done with the staff from the government children’s home where the girls came from.
We are thankful that we can offer these girls a safe environment and we hope they will be able to feel at home.
“Ah, we’re almost home!” The two girls had just finished school and were looking forward to dinner. They could almost smell the food, that’s how close they were. When they were just about to pass the neighbours’ parked car, the car suddenly started moving. Without indication, the neighbour took a turn. There is no way they could stop in time, so they collided with the car and fell off their motorcycle. Ouch!
This accident happened a little while ago. Both the girls and the neighbour got a good scare! Thankfully the neighbour immediately got out of his car to help. Because it was in such close proximity of the house, some mothers could immediately assist as well. All in all, the damage could have been way worse. The girls had a sore mouth, a loose tooth and a painful knee from the fall. The motorcycle was only slightly damaged, but the neighbours’ car has a big dent and now the door won’t open and close properly anymore. We are thankful everyone seemed mostly okay!
A girl of only nine years old, recently came back to live with us. She used to live with us before, after she had become the victim of abuse. Back then she was not even six years old. After a few years in Baan Phak Phing, she went back to her mother because it was safe again. It’s absolutely heartbreaking, but over time the situation at her home deteriorated and the girl fell short of protection again. This led to another abuse situation.
In the past weeks, our psychologist and the leader of the house where the girl lives have helped the girl share her story with the police. The investigation is still pending and this means the girl had to return to the crime scene to testify. Once the investigation is over, the case will be brought to court and the girl is expected to show up there as well. This is an extremely difficult time for her. It feels like she needs to revisit her trauma over and over. It’s absolutely horrible. Despite the pain and hardships, we are thankful that we are in a position to offer her support and protection in this time of need.
A young couple wanted to get married and was on the lookout for a good location. They also hoped to find people willing to help them with the preparation of the party. Well, I can tell you one thing: the ‘mothers’ of Baan Phak Phing got very excited when they heard this news. They enthusiastically proposed for the wedding to take place on the property of the girls’ house. It wasn’t just any couple after all. The mothers and girls all know the groom. He has been around for fourteen years and regularly helps with the IT, printers and website. The bride is also well known by many.
That’s why the staff offered to take care of all the food and drinks. Quite a challenge, because they expected 160 guests! On the big day itself, not only the mothers but even the girls all helped out. They also helped decorating the yard. You should have seen how lovely it all looked! It was a great party and the happy couple is extremely thankful for all the help and love they received.
Most people enjoy a good party but everyone has different ideas on what the best way to celebrate is. Some love large crowds, others are content with several close friends nearby; some prefer to dance and sing, others would rather keep things peaceful; some would like a full on meal, others just want a nice cup of steaming coffee; some readily dress up, others keep things casual; etc.
In Baan Phak Phing, Christmas is a huge deal and we celebrate it big time. For us that means dancing, playing games, singing, listening to a story, acting out sketches and sharing an elaborate meal. We invite former girls, our neighbors, friends and family over so that we can celebrate with a large group. Thankfully, we were able to celebrate Christmas despite Corona. It felt like such a privilege, we are so grateful. When it came to New Years, we were still able to celebrate, though we usually keep that a bit smaller anyways, with ‘just’ our large family. All the girls and co-workers came together for a lovely and long Thai barbecue. In between bites, we played games and danced. We also shared a story and even sang karaoke. It was such a pleasure to be able to start the year together like this.
This month two of our young adult women will go study at the university. One of them will study logistics and the other will study nursing. Neither of them knew how they were going to be able to do this without their own laptop, they were quite worried about this. It was amazing when, a little while ago, we got a donation to buy two new laptops, one for each of them. I wish you could have seen the joy on their faces when we told them they didn’t have to worry. The laptops have been purchased and set up for them with all the software they will need.
On behalf of the two young ladies we want to thank the sponsor from the bottom of our hearts for this generous donation.
In order to stay healthy, the girls eat fruit and vegetables every day. Usually, we go to the market to buy our groceries, but with a garden like ours we thought it would be a great opportunity to actually grow some fruit and vegetables ourselves! Gardening is not only educational and saves money, but also a lot of fun to do together. The girls aren’t always too excited to start doing these chores, but that’s okay. Every one of us sometimes has to do something we don’t necessarily love after all. Thankfully, the girls really enjoy the time they get to spend with each other and the mothers once they have started. It is very rewarding for them to see the plants sprout and eventually produce the fruit and vegetables they themselves get to eat. Yum!