|The Blues, all 7 of them.|
No. It is our goal to foster as much independence as possible in our staff and project managers. This is much harder to accomplish if we are always on site to give immediate help and answers. We have deliberately chosen to live away from the project locations in order to give the staff the space to work and problem solve on their own and only get help from us when necessary. There will be seasons when we will need to be onsite more full time, such as staff selection, and training. But when those are complete we will be stepping back to let things run without us and to let the staff manage things on their own as much as possible.
It is our long term goal to work ourselves out of a job, which involves having people managing the orphan care facilities who can function, direct, and plan with confidence. This is a hard thing to accomplish, especially in an Asian culture where people are conditioned to be very hierarchical and extremely deferent toward authority. We are very excited about the progress that has been made so far and want to be out of the way as much as possible to allow it to continue.
So what are you doing then, if not running an orphanage?
Well, to begin with, technically it's not an orphanage, it's a residential care facility. Second we're teaching people how to run it, with the eventual dream of doing away with the institutional model all together. We're developing educational materials that can be used all over the world to teach people how to provide for the needs of children at risk in their own communities through the establishment of entrepreneurial social businesses. Our prototype orphan care communities in Tak Province and Mae Sot are the developing and testing ground for this curriculum and the place where we refine it until we have something that works, even without us around as teachers.
How are you supporting your family?
It's a combination of several things. We've put all our savings as a family into this. We have also received generous support from people who believe in this project and want to give us the ability to see it through to fruition. In addition, we intend to practice what we preach and create our own entrepreneurial income streams through small business here in country as our visa requirements will permit.
Did you really have a baby at home in your shower in Thailand?
Yes. See details here.
How long will you be there?
We have committed to 2 full years here in Thailand. This is an ambitious timeline in terms of realistically accomplishing the goals we set for ourselves. At the close of those 2 years we will reassess to see if we are still needed here. The 2 primary goals are to bring the Charis Home to 100% self sustaining and disperse it into a community, family style, model of child care. Second, to build from the ground up another child care community in Mae Sot based from the beginning in the entrepreneurial ethic and mindset. Integral to that is to have developed the the training curriculum for use in all future projects as well.
What do you need? How can we help and be involved?
We could use support in every way, financial, prayer, partnerships, networking, connections, etc. Starting up and running a household from scratch, as well as any businesses, is expensive here in Thailand too, thought not quite as much as in the US. If you would like to donate specifically to support us in our work here please designate Educational Development Fund on your check or in a note.
If you have any other questions for the Blues about their work in Thailand go ahead and ask them in the comments. We'll do our best to answer them for you.