In Thailand's Northeastern Region
Geography & Climate
- Thailand is the geographical heart of southeastern Asia, occupying the western half of the Indochinese Peninsula and the northern two-thirds of the Malay Peninsula.
- Its neighbors are Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia.
- At 198,120 square miles, Thailand is roughly the size of France and slightly more than twice the size of Wyoming.
- Thailand contains six geographical regions, based on natural features, basic resources as well as human cultural patterns.
- Thailand can be extremely hot and soggy, with high temperatures, high humidity and substantial rainfall.
- Its tropical climate is divided into three seasons: cool in November to February, hot in March to May and rainy in June to October.
- Nationwide, temperatures normally range from an average annual high of 100.4 degrees to a low of 66.2 degrees.
Thailand is the second-largest economy in southeastern Asia, after Indonesia.
Primary industries include automobile manufacturing, financial services, electronic appliances and tourism.
The country’s unemployment rate is very low (0.7 percent) due to a large proportion of population working in subsistence agriculture or in other vulnerable employment.
The population living below poverty is 13.2 percent.
The child labor (ages 5-14) rate is 8 percent.
Children at Home
Homes in Thailand’s northeastern villages are made of cement or wood, with corrugated iron roofs.
Homes typically have one common room that serves as the living, sleeping and cooking area for the entire family.
About 70 percent of Compassion-assisted children in the northeast have been left in the care of relatives by parents who have moved elsewhere for work.
In some homes, many siblings and cousins live together.
Issues and Concerns
- Adults in the northeast often leave their children with relatives as they seek work in cities like Bangkok, returning home only once or twice a year for brief visits. As a result, children lack parental direction and may fall into drug abuse, gang life and prostitution.
- Impoverished families in the northeast believe the way to a better life is for their daughters to marry rich foreigners. They often pursue this goal rather than education.
- Gambling is a popular pastime and a significant problem for many adults. Children imitate their parents and have their own “pretend” gambling games.
- Children are particularly susceptible to malnutrition. They also commonly suffer from intestinal parasites.
- In remote villages, local clinics often lack supplies and personnel to care for children’s health needs.
Local Needs and Challenges
The lack of consistent parental care is a problem for children growing up in northeastern Thailand. Without guidance, children are vulnerable to addictions and sexual promiscuity.
Farming is the main source of income here. The poor soil supports only a few crops such as rice, sugarcane and yams. Extreme climate changes can also suddenly damage or destroy crops.
Schools and Education
- The school year in the northeastern region has two terms: May to October and November to March.
- Elementary school and secondary school each last six years.
- Although the government provides free education, parents struggle to pay the costs of uniforms, textbooks and transportation.
- About one-third of children leave school by ninth grade to work and supplement the family income.
At the Compassion Child Development Center
A core strategy of northeastern Thailand’s church-based Compassion centers is removing sponsored children from bad influences.
Instead of drugs and gangs, children find a safe, welcoming and understanding environment at their Compassion center.
Center workers provide engaging after-school programs. Registered children also form musical groups and participate in team sports.
Some children come to the centers each day to do their homework or talk to the workers, who help fill the gap left by absent parents.
As sponsored youths grow older, centers offer leadership groups to help them excel in school and prepare for education beyond high school.
By providing alternatives to drugs, sex and bad influences, Compassion centers are helping these children grow into a new generation of leaders who want to improve their communities.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local churches, Compassion is bringing help and hope to children in need in northeastern Thailand, providing them with:
- regular nutritious meals and snacks
- health checkups and medical care as needed
- the support needed to attend school
- health and hygiene training
- access to special services like surgeries and disaster relief
- mentoring to help children discover their incredible value as God’s children