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Chiang Rai Center, Thailand

The IHF Thailand branch works with the indigenous hill tribe people living in the tumultuous borderlands between Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), and Laos, and extending as far as into China and Vietnam. The two tribes at our Children's Home are Lahu and Akha. The hill tribes in Northern Thailand face many challenges, and it is our mission to arm our children with the skills, attitudes and character that they will need to have equal opportunities for their future, like other Thai citizens. IHF provides a family support network and gives education to empower these children, alleviating them from marginalization and poverty.

At home, our children speak Lahu and Akha to their tribesmen and Thai when speaking across tribes. Most of our children are Christian, with several Buddhist exceptions, both religions being accepted equally at the Center. The children receive classes in English language skills and help with homework most evenings at the center. This gives them the chance to learn from native English speakers, which is a big advantage over their peers.

The children and volunteers enjoy outings together to local attractions such as the nearby “beach” on the river for swimming and an elephant orphanage. They also have pizza and soda nights to celebrate birthdays and special occasions.

The Center is situated on the outskirts of Chiang Rai town. It backs onto a forest where the children like to play, allowing the home to be in a quiet and peaceful location. The neighbors are friendly and own a candy store that the children often visit. There is a boys’ dorm and a girls’ dorm joined by a common area, where meals are eaten together as a family and where the children do their homework. It is amazing to see how fantastically self-sufficient the children are, with even the youngest being able to cook their own food, help with cleaning, do their laundry and iron.