Partnerships - Don't Leave Home Without Them

Bennett Cohen had anosmia – he couldn’t smell a thing and had almost no sense of taste.  Yet he wanted to go into the food business.  His old grade 7 buddy and best friend, Jerry Greenfield, wanted to go to medical school, but gave up after getting turned down twice.  The two decided to team up and make bagels, but equipment costs were so high they gave up on that too.  Undaunted, they rented an old gas station and tried their hand at selling ice cream.

John Winston was bright but failed his final high school exams and admitted to being a slacker in art school.  He was far more interested in girls, friends and music.  His mom taught him to play some chords so he started his own band that, ironically, he named after his old school, Quarry Bank High.  Over the next couple of years, the Quarrymen added a couple of teenage musicians, changed their drummer, then settled on a new name.

Partnership – an arrangement in which two or more individuals pool experience, skills, knowledge and other resources.  A strategic partnership can lead to the “whole being greater than the sum of its parts”.  In other words, one plus one can often equal three, and in some cases a whole lot more. The tree that stands alone burns bright when fired by lightning, but surrounded by vast hillsides of timber, the scope, impact and power of the blaze become staggering.

Gifts, connections, passions and experiences from one sharpen, inspire and motivate others to dig deeper into theirs.  I hear the mind and heart of my partner, which reminds me of something significant, which in turn triggers something my partner hadn’t fully developed, and on it goes.

Imagine Thailand is, and always has been, all about partnerships.  Canadians, English, Thai, Burmese and Karen in partnership with each other and, most importantly, in partnership with the one who guides us, calms us, walks with us and quickens our understanding to better know the hearts of these beautiful people.

Because of Imagine Thailand partnerships:  more languages are spoken, meaning more people are reached in the language they know best.  Public schools here and in Burma are connected with Canadian students – the Asians learn English, the Canadians learn the value of service.  Donors in Langley, Calgary, Toronto or St. John’s are connected with refugees and migrants on the Thai/Burmese border through a cup of clean water given in his name.  Buddhist university students who will shape Thailand’s future are connected with English speakers and teachers who passionately express their love through the medium of language.  Schools in Takua Pa so want to learn English that they invite Imagine Thailand workers to “teach our children, and please share about your faith if you would like”.

We believe we are here for two reasons – because it is asked of us and because we can.  May we bring honour in all we do, and may we serve these people that he loves so much.

Which brings us back to Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.  Today, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream operates in 39 countries worldwide (including Thailand!) and is worth over $70 billion Canadian.  And that taste and smell problem of Ben’s?  That allowed him to focus on texture, thus providing their ice cream with that extra something that people love the world over.   

And what about John Winston and the Quarrymen?  John Winston Lennon, his teenage guitarists Paul McCartney and George Harrison, and their drummer add-on Ringo Starr became better known as the Beatles, the biggest musical act of the 20th century.  The team of Lennon & McCartney is the most successful song writing partnership of all time.

The power of partnerships is not lost on Imagine Thailand, and your supporting role is no less a factor in ensuring that the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.  We are better because of your partnership.

Partnerships – don’t leave home without them!


Engaging with Entrance

Imagine Thailand’s commitment to invest in emerging leaders has taken on many forms over the years. Much like the young adults we work with, leadership development is diverse and varied. We believe in not forcing students into our models, but rather embracing ways to connect with young leaders. One expression of this was a cafe where students could meet in a third space and connect with others, their studies, and engage with topics of faith. In 2013, our student coffeehouse, Passport Cafe and Gallery, merged with Entrance Coffeehouse and Studio. You can read more about that partnership HERE.

Located next to Chulalongkorn University, Thailand’s oldest and one of the most prestigious universities, Entrance is a wonderfully inviting space where students come to be part of community. For many students, living in small dorms with little or no communal space or kitchen facilities, investing in studies, and keeping up with family life, leaves them with little time or space to reflect, to dialogue, or to ask questions where they might not otherwise be able. These factors draw students to Entrance - plus the coffee is good!

Hannah is our Imagine Thailand team member at Entrance. She’s been there since the inception and her work focuses on connecting Entrance with the university community and the approximately 40,000 students in attendance. When you sit with Hannah, it won’t take long to realize that her years of relationship with young Thai leaders has given her a rich view into the lives of those who will soon be shaping Thailand. Chula, as it is lovingly called, turns out leaders and these grads are going places. And before they go, there is a small window of time where Hannah and the Entrance team can invest into them. We believe the students carry those investments all over the nation and across the world.

To connect with the community at Entrance, check them out online or if you’re in the Sam Yan area, stop in at 148-152 จุฬาฯ 5 แขวง วังใหม่ เขต ปทุมวัน. We’d love to meet you there!



เนื่องจากครอบครัวเป็นขุมพลังที่สำคัญที่สุด เป็นจุดเริ่มต้นในการวางรากฐาน การให้ความรักแก่เด็ก การทำงานกับเด็กและครอบครัวจึงมีความสำคัญมาก

วัยเด็กเป็นเวลาของการเล่นและเรียนรู้  ปัจจุบันการขาดวินัยกำลังเป็นปัญหาสำคัญในเด็กไทย และส่งผลต่อเนื่องไปจนถึงวัยผู้ใหญ่ การฝึกวินัยในเด็กไม่ใช่เรื่องง่าย แต่ก็ไม่ยากจนเกินไป หากคนในครอบครัว มีความตั้งใจจริงเพราะสิ่งนี้จะทำให้ เราเห็นการเปลี่ยนแปลงในตัวเด็กอย่างแน่นอน

ปัจจุบันนี้มีปัญหาเกิดขึ้นทั้งกับเด็กและครอบครัว ความเสี่ยงหลายอย่าง เช่น ยาเสพติด dการใช้ความรุนแรง การข่มขืน การทำร้ายกันและทารุณ ผู้ที่ทำงานกับเด็กในฐานะครู ผู้ให้คำปรึกษา/บำบัดรักษาเด็ก ทำให้เราเห็นได้อย่างชัดเจนมากขึ้น  เด็กและครอบครัว เติบโตมาอย่างขาดระเบียบวินัย การอบรมสั่งสอน ซึ่งอาจเป็นเพราะครอบครัวยากจน สภาพแวดล้อมไม่ดี พ่อแม่มีการศึกษาน้อย ไม่มีเวลาอบรมลูก หรือแม้กระทั่ง เด็กที่มาจาก ครอบครัวร่ำรวย พ่อแม่มีการศึกษาสูง ดังนั้นจึงจำเป็นอย่างยิ่งที่เราจะต้องช่วยเหลือเด็กและครอบครัว เพื่อช่วยสร้างและวางรากฐานที่ดี ให้กับเด็กและครอบครัว เพราะวัยเด็กเป็นวัยที่รับสิ่งต่างๆเข้าไปได้ง่าย เราสามารถปลูกฝังสิ่งที่ดี ให้กับเด็ก เมื่อเขายังวัยเยาว์อยู่ได้  ดังในพระคัมภีร์ สุภาษิต 22:6 กล่าวว่า

จงฝึกเด็กในทางที่เขาควรจะเดินไป  เพราะเมื่อเขาเป็นผู้ใหญ่แล้ว  เขาจะไม่พรากจากทางนั้น 

ผู้ที่ทำงานกับเด็กมีส่วนช่วยครอบครัวมาก เพราะพ่อแม่ ผู้ปกครอง เป็นผู้ที่มีบทบาทโดยตรงในการปลูกฝัง/สร้างวินัย การให้ความรัก และเด็กจะเติบโตเป็นผู้ใหญ่ที่ดีและมีคุณภาพ ดังนั้นการทำงานกับเด็กและครอบครัวจึงสำคัญอย่างยิ่ง โดยเฉพาะการให้ความรัก กับเด็กอย่างสม่ำเสมอ


การสร้างความสัมพันธ์ที่ดี ให้เกิดขึ้นระหว่างเด็ก พ่อแม่ ผู้ปกครอง เพราะความสัมพันธ์เป็นที่พื้นฐานของทุกสิ่งทุกอย่าง ไม่ว่าจะเป็นการรักษาเยียวยา ร่างกายและจิตใจ เพราะหากไม่มีความสัมพันธ์ที่ดีต่อกัน ก็ยากที่จะช่วยเด็กได้ การมีความสัมพันธ์ที่ดี จะทำให้เด็กรู้ว่าเราทำสิ่งต่างๆลงไปด้วยความรัก ดังนั้นแม้เราจะติ ดุ เข้มงวด หรือตั้งกฎเกณฑ์ที่ลูกไม่ชอบก็ตาม เด็กจะพยายามทำจนสำเร็จ โดยให้แสดงความรักกับเด็กและครอบครัวอย่างสม่ำเสมอ  แสดงความสนใจต่อตัวเขา มีเวลาให้เด็กและครอบครัว


การยอมรับนับถือในตัวเด็ก โดยการที่ให้ความรักและความอบอุ่น ให้เวลา  ให้โอกาสเด็กตัดสินใจในเรื่องบางเรื่องเองบ้าง อย่ารีบร้อนตัดสินความคิดของเด็กหรือการกระทำของเด็ก ให้รางวัลหรือคำชมเชยกับเด็กบ้างเมื่อเขาทำดี  ฝึกวินัยตั้งแต่เยาว์วัย และสร้างความสัมพันธ์ที่ดีต่อกัน เป็นสิ่งสำคัญในการที่จะสร้างอุปนิสัย และบุคลิกที่ดีให้แก่เด็ก ทั้งจะนำไปสู่ชีวิตที่ดี มีคุณภาพและประสบความสำเร็จ ในอนาคตได้อย่างแน่นอน




Songkran 2017

The celebration of a new year is a natural point to reflect back and then look forward. Here in Thailand the festival of Songkran is how we celebrate the new year (though technically the calendar does switch over on January 1st). So while people across the country are returning to life as suual following ringing in the new year with giant water fights and time spent with friends and family, we here at Imagine Thailand are taking the opportunity to reflect back on 2016 and our work in Mae Sot.

Clean Water Projects are a large focus of our work in and around Mae Sot, a small city on the Thai-Myanmar border. In this past year 8 new water filtration systems were installed in the Mae Sot area with 2 others being installed in other parts of Thailand. This brings us to a total of having 65 water systems installed in Thailand and another 10 in Myanmar. We work with migrant schools attended by mostly Karen people displaced from Myanmar. The water filtration systems not only provide clean water to the students and staff at the schools where the systems are installed, but entire communities gain access to clean water. We estimate that 13,000 – 15,000 people have access to clean water through our Clean Water Projects. Sustainable access to clean drinking water changes communities.

In addition to installing the water filtration systems, Imagine Thailand also provides system maintenance and maintenance training so that these units can serve communities at peak performance. In this last year we have provided maintenance services on 25 systems and have trained 35 people to maintain their own filtration units. The goal is to empower and not to make people dependent on us or our expertise.

The installation of these water systems provides our staff with a great opportunity to visit rural (and often remote) villages. Relationships have flourished and trust has been built. In addition to our Clean Water Projects, we have been able to take nutrient-rich soy milk to the children in many of the communities we work in. We produce our own soy milk at our centre in Mae Sot and we provide thousands of cups of soy milk each month to children in the Mae Sot area and across the border in Myanmar. This soy milk production helps boost the diets of students and creates jobs in the community.

Through the generosity of others we have been able to provide over 1,600 children with a personal cup. A cup may not seem like much, but it helps with hygiene and it’s a small way of telling a child they are thought of and valued. They have something to call their own.

We have the privilege of facilitating teams from Thailand and abroad who come to serve the schools and community groups of Mae Sot. This past year saw us welcome just over 100 people in 12 months. While this takes many hours of planning, the value of these visitors far outweighs the investment of hours. These volunteers bring countless hours of people-power, resources, energy, awareness to local issues, and fresh eyes to the work that we are doing in Mae Sot.

Seeing what has been accomplished is worth celebrating and we know there is a journey ahead. As we move forward into 2017 / 2560, we are excited for the Clean Water Projects underway. We will purchase and install 5 new multi-stage water filtration systems in migrant schools and children’s homes in the Mae Sot area at a cost of $12,000 which will bring sustainable access to clean water to 3,000 people. Additionally, multi-stage filtration units require different types of filters. When schools cannot afford to maintain or replace their filters, we work with them to find solutions. This year we will be working with the maintenance and labour of 39 multi-stage water filtration systems in Mae Sot migrant schools at a cost of $8,000. This will ensure that 5,000 people keep benefiting from clean water access that has impacted their communities. There are ways for you and your community group to be engaged. Connect us for more information.

Numbers make things measurable and we need them. What we cannot measure is the depth of change in a person’s life as they gain hours back from not fetching water, grow in physical health as they are not exposed to waterborne illness, or the financial breathing room that comes from not having to buy drinkable water. Even more immeasurable is how a child feels when told someone cares for them. Deeply. These are the things we’re reflecting on this Songkran. 


The Clean Water Project: 2017 Focus

Having water and having clean, safe, drinking water are not the same thing. In the border region where Thailand and Myanmar meet, there is no shortage of water. Towns and villages draw from the Moei River or local wells. For those using pipeline water, there is an understanding that what comes out of your tap should not go into your body. Whether it’s issues with filtration or the poor quality of the pipelines (usually as a result of installation practices), residents understand the health risks. Villages removed from town centres rely on well water or water diverted from nearby streams. This untreated water poses a health risk.


The daily impact of unsafe drinking water is felt by many. Diarrhea and stomach issues, weakness, fatigue, and frequent kidney stones are common complications from drinking the water you have and not the clean water you want. The young, the elderly, and those with pre-existing health issues are most adversely impacted. The same water that keeps you alive can also make you sick.


For those that can afford it, 1 gallon of clean drinking water costs around 15 to 20 Thai Baht. That’s 50 to 75 cents. In a country that’s known for it’s heat, in a home where most likely multiple generations live together as a larger family, this can add up quickly. Clean drinking water becomes unaffordable. And just like that it is not a lack of access to clean water, but a financial barrier that stops families from living in good health. For these families they must either boil the water, investing time and money, or drink untreated water.


At Imagine Thailand, we work with the Burmese migrant community on both sides of the Thai-Myanmar border. In many ways these communities have worked to be self-sufficient. Affordable, sustainable access to clean water is one way we are working to empower these communities.


Imagine Thailand partners with migrant schools and student children’s homes because these spaces serve as a rallying point for the community. We assess the water needs of the school and the greater community and install an appropriate multi-stage water filtration system. Once these systems are installed, for 3 years we work together with teachers and locals to provide maintenance and filter training. After those 3 years we are always on call to help with any problems that may come up. We don’t want to make people dependent on us, but we also never want them to be alone. Clean drinking water is something we take seriously.


Access to affordable and sustainable clean drinking water changes so much for a community. It frees up time and financial resources and this makes way for good things. When we complete a new installation, the sense of joy and relief amongst the students and teachers is real. There are always lots of smiles. Clean water goes beyond saving time and money and providing better health - it gives people confidence that what they are about to drink is good for them and good for their children. That peace of mind is powerful.


In 2017, Imagine Thailand continues to work with migrant communities to provide clean, affordable, and sustainable access to drinking  water.


NEW SYSTEMS || We will purchase and install 5 new multi-stage water filtration systems in migrant schools and children’s homes in the Mae Sot area.

Cost $12,000

Impact: 3,000 people

MAINTENANCE || Multi-stage filtration units require different types of filters. When schools cannot afford to maintain or replace their filters, we work with them to find solutions. This year we will be working with the maintenance and labour of 39 multi-stage water filtration systems in Mae Sot migrant schools.

Cost: $8,000

Impact: 5,000 people


If you would like to know more about our Clean Water Projects or would like to invest in the cost of clean water, please contact us here. This #WorldWaterDay, choose to be involved.