People Matter: what it takes to influence a nation

What does it take to influence a nation?

Imagine Thailand believes that people are the major influencers of a nation, it’s culture, it’s values, and its future.  So we, as an organization and as individuals within that organization, dedicate an immense amount of resources toward the people in this country. 

Because people matter, and that matters to us.

On December 26th, 2004, Baan Nam Kehm and it’s neighbouring communities were devastated by one of the worst tsunamis in history.  3,500 Thais and foreigners lost their lives.  Proportionately they suffered the worst losses of any town or city in Thailand.  Families, houses, and relationships were ripped apart in mere minutes, but into the human and physical wreckage came help.  Locals and internationals gathered to help pick up the shattered pieces.  And Imagine Thailand was there.  Right from the start.  And after the initial clean-up, when most aid groups had left, we stayed.    

Because people matter, and that matters to us.

The ravaged community of Takua Pa asked if we could help their children.  Imagine Thailand responded by establishing the Lighthouse Learning Centre, an after-school educational support facility.  Children who would otherwise have struggled in school or dropped out were given an amazing opportunity: help with their studies and a place to be loved and nurtured. 

Between 2004 and 2013 the Centre grew out of a small, crowded house and into a permanent facility with room to grow and the kids kept coming.  In ever increasing numbers.  By 2015 we had again outgrown our space and so we launched the “Container Project”.

By early 2017, thanks to generous donations from many people and organizations, 2 shipping containers were converted into classrooms, 1 part-time and 2 full-time employees were hired, and 65 students from 6 local schools were welcomed into their new learning home. 

9 students, who have attended the Centre for over 10 years, will graduate this year and move onto higher education. 3 of them will be the first in their families to ever graduate from high school despite the tsunami. Their graduation is an incredible, wonderful, almost unimaginable event!  What made the difference?  In their words, “we received an opportunity to learn, but we’ve also been shown we can make a difference, today and tomorrow”.

Because people matter, and that matters to us. 

Each school term, at the request of the local government, our Lighthouse Learning Centre Director, Tak, is asked to lead a Teacher Training Seminar for teachers throughout the region.  One of the attendees commented to her that “one of our girls attends here.  She says she gets more than just tutoring, she also gets love”.  She then asked, “how do you give students love?”. 

Tak responded, “We treat every student with dignity, we tell them they have value, we tell them we love them, and we hug them”.

When Tak visited this teacher’s school the following week, the teacher came bounding up to her with a smile on her face.  “I tried what you taught us.  It’s working!  By showing love to the students, they listen better, they are more respectful, and they are showing love and respect to each other.  And what’s more, I realize how much I need love, too”.  And with that she reached out her arms and asked Tak for a hug.

We believe that when a student, a teacher or a community are shown love and given the opportunity to love, they can make a difference.  That’s what it takes to influence a nation.

Because people matter, and that matters to us. 

Join us this Giving Tuesday as we seek to strengthen our existing relationships within the community, and look for ways to grow our influence, as we grow the influence in others.  But much more than that, we hope you find an opportunity to give and receive love this season.