A cinder block building sits in the middle of Omkoi, a village, about four hours away from Chiang Mai, Thailand. Every weekday, small children pour through its door to begin memorizing beautiful characters comprising the Thai written language. To villagers, this building represents hope and progress.
It is, of course, a school.
The school was built last fall after The Exodus Road hosted a team of volunteer workers from The Grove, a church in Chandler, Ariz. Those volunteers worked tirelessly to construct the building, adding to some prior building that had already been started. They hammered boards, built walls and even found ways to help pay for the project, while living in the remote village for several days.
They knew the area, like many in Northern Thailand, desperately needed more schools.
The new buildings sits between the Tung Kwang and Baan Kun villages, neither of which have educational facilities. Every day, children as young as 6 have to wake up early and trudge up to five kilometers to the nearest classroom. After lessons end, they have to walk the entire way back.
Now, the youngest students are learning close to home. The new school in Omkoi targets 4 and 5 year-olds who, previously, had no educational opportunities, at all. They had no bright classrooms in which to learn to read, and they had no cheerful teachers to help them learn to count.
The Exodus Road partnered with Sean Abbott at True Vine Farms to change this. True Vine is a collection of organic farms throughout the Chiang Mai area that provides locals with fresh, environmentally responsible produce. Sean desires to improve general life in the area and has promoted education as a means of fighting human trafficking. Needless to say, Sean’s goals and dreams align with ours.
So, when an opportunity arose to partner with Sean and True Vine and to help create a new space for education in Omkoi, we readily agreed.
Now, the village is a different place. The school is already holding classes and jump-starting education for tiny students in surrounding communities. The government also has assigned a teacher from a nearby village to begin lessons, and local residents have volunteered to cook lunches for the students. The villagers have welcomed this gift.
The building also has dual purpose now and serves as a daycare as well as a school. Parents have a safe, secure place to bring their young children before returning to work in their fields.
A solid partnership between our organization, True Vine Farms and The Grove changed the community in and around Omkoi, and that community will feel the effects of that change for years to come. Students will have more opportunities and parents will continue to work without worrying about children at home.
The Exodus Road wants to continue projects like this and transform life in more than just brothels. Through our partnerships, we want to affect communities throughout Thailand and we know that education is a crucial factor in keep kids safe.