In 2007 I started asking myself and my blog readers what could be done about the poverty and injustice in the world, about human trafficking and children at risk.
In 2008 when I first found out about a man named Chala who was taking care of 40 children who were abandoned or orphaned, due to the war in Burma, I asked my readers to help me to help him take care of those kids. Their response was swift and overwhelming and suddenly we had enough money for him to rent a house and put the kids in school.
There were many months of struggle as we tried to figure out how to care for these kids long term and provide enough to feed them, but my readers are my heroes because they came through. Half of our budget last year was donated by people who only know us through social media. This blog is where many people have been connected with the chance to help the kids in Thailand. Many people I know in real life didn't start taking what I was trying to do seriously for a long time. It was the readers at She Laughs at the Days and their networks who cared for and sustained those kids.
We introduced child sponsorship, and people sponsored the kids and committed to monthly support for the Charis Home.
In December of 2009 the internet, via the readers here, donated enough to buy the kids bunk beds, and shoes and clothes. It was amazing.
In 2010 we incorporated as The Charis Project and received 501c3 tax exempt status in the US. Our EIN number is 80-0570774. Check out our Guidestar Profile. Charis is pronounced (Ka-ris) and means gift, or grace.
Also in 2010 we raised $7000 in 3 weeks to buy a truck so the kids could get to school safely, so they could be taken to the doctor. It just made everything easier for the kids and the house parents to have that truck. That truck became their first business venture also, they charged locals for rides into town and to deliver goods to market.
At the end of 2010 we were able to pay a significant down payment on a piece of land to build the kids a home on.
Some of the kids left with their tribal group who decided altogether to start over in Laos thanks to changing policies on illegals in Thailand. Our kids had legal papers and wouldn't have to leave, but they tribe wanted to stick together. I cried a lot about this. Though I didn't write it much. I had to let sponsors know.
We got new kids. Kinds in need are everywhere.
We also started our campaign to find 300 people who would donate $10/month to support The Charis Project. We're not there yet. Rescue a Child
I told you our plan for changing the way we do orphan care as part of IdeaCamp.
We think that our model for self-sustaining homes can change the way orphanages all over the world are run for the better, and make it so that anyone who cares about children and wants to take care of them can do so.
I started introducing you to some of the kids. Meet Suchart
This is Pantawat.
When Aaron got home from his last trip to check on things at the orphanage it got harder and harder for us to stay here in North America. Home is Shifting
We paid off the land to grow food and coffee on for bringing the home income, and built an orphanage, in partnership with a group from Switzerland. The Orphanage is Funded!
We started plans to build an orphan care model from the ground up in Mae Sot and received a grant from the Honors Nature of Giving Student Organization in Texas to do just that. This community will be the blue print for replicating this model all around the world, wherever there is poverty and children in crisis.
In spring of 2013 our family moved to Thailand in order to finish transitioning the home we originally started working with to completely self sustaining, and to be closer in order to develop the community model in Mae Sot. I resigned as CFO at the end of 2012 after learning I was pregnant with another baby! But I'm still the administrator and Secretary for this whole thing. Until we find, and can afford to pay, someone better qualified to replace me in those roles also.
My amazing readers, you, have been around for the whole ride, and are such a constant source of encouragement. I can't believe you have stood by me all this time, and given so generously to help these kids. Thank-you!
I have a liberal arts education, even that is incomplete. I had no idea what I was doing when I walked into this. I knew next to nothing coming into this about how to run a corporation, use social media, administrate anything, or how to run an orphanage. This opportunity landed in my lap after years of wondering what I could do and I just said yes to it. I'm learning on the run and had no way of imagining it would grow so large so quickly. I was convinced that I could never, ever, raise money for anything. You guys proved me wrong. My high school self still laughs in disbelief when ever I say out loud to someone that I am a founding board member, CFO and secretary of a non-profit corporation.
If you want to support The Charis Project you can.
Or through our cause on facebook. Here's our facebook page.