The Lighthouse Learning Centre is Growing
Takua Pa is where Imagine Thailand began. Here in this part of Phang Nga province, you'll find the deepest impact of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. Even today people are shaken every time they hear of an earthquake, some remain emotionally traumatized, and from time to time someone dies from illness related to the tsunami.
You may remember after two years of working on recovery and development projects, we decided to stay on in Baan Phru Tiew, the community that was created to house survivors of the tsunami. Community members asked for some form of after-school learning centre and six years ago we launched this project. We struggled to find decent space, and often we wondered if we should carry on.
How things have grown in Takua Pa! A year ago 15-20 students would squeeze into a living room the size of a decent walk-in closet. We now rent a small campus with access to two buildings and a large learning centre. With the help of Philadelphia Church in Lewisporte, Newfoundland and Omega Challenge in British Columbia we have the first Google Chrome Computers in Thailand, on-line learning and now up to 60 children who come each day after school.
The Centre is many things: a place of hope and refuge for kids whose parents find it hard to push them forward in their studies. It's a place to be after school, a place for fun and for learning. Children are getting help with homework, learning typing skills, preparing for exams and becoming better students. Our staff follow their test scores, and we can see that 90% of the students are improving at school. We can observe that they are more engaged in learning, prefering to do online learning exercises rather than playing Moshi Monsters. We can also observe that they are becoming better people.
The Centre also provides emotional support and spiritual counsel. Many of the children have made the local church their home. We recently took a team of 12 pre-teens to serve in a migrant school in Mae Sot. Not only did they have a chance. to cross a culture in order to serve other children less fortunate, they had the chance to change. We didn't structure it that way, we just wanted these kids to have the experience, but when they came home their parents started calling our staff. They wanted to know what we did to their kids because they were so different. Their attitude at home had changed so much.
This really reflects the vision of Imagine--to provide an opportunity to young Thai leaders to be involved in the needs around them in their own country and in the process be transformed. Typically we thought the "young Thai leaders" would be students from Bangkok's universities, but we are happy to say, that these young leaders are also the rural poor, touched by one of the world's worst natural disasters, but eager to learn and eager to make a difference.