Thai Food

Thai Food

Thai food is the national cuisine of Thailand. Elements of several Southeast Asian traditions, Thai food is known for balancing sweet, sour, salty and bitter tastes.

Thailand Northeastern Region

The Location


The Population


The Religion


The Weather

  • A woman works in the field near her home. At best, families in the northeast raise meager crops, not nearly enough to support themselves. Thailand man hoeing plants
  • At their Compassion center, these children have the opportunity to develop their bodies and minds. They also learn about the love of God. Thailand young girls at desks
  • These flower garlands are purchased and given as offerings to Buddha in the local temple. Northeastern Thailand is a stronghold of Buddhism, as well as spirit worship and witchcraft. Thailand women selling produce
  • Because malnutrition is common in this region, children receive nutritious meals at their Compassion centers. Thailand smiling boy closeup
  • Compassion center workers follow a curriculum of learning activities that lead children to develop their potential and strive for a future free from poverty. Thailand children raising hands in class
  • The Isan region is well known for its beautiful hand-woven fabrics. Each unique pattern has a specific meaning. Thailand smiling woman weaving

Overview: Northeastern Thailand

Thailand’s northeastern region is a vast plateau that extends across more than one-third of the country. Although the primary livelihood in this region is agriculture, the land is arid and the soil poor. Farmers coax small crops from the ground, but the yield is not enough to provide adequately for their families.

Thailand’s northeastern plateau is tough land to farm. Here, farmers are at the mercy of the region’s unpredictable weather. The monsoon season generally brings heavy rains that destroy crops and flood homes.

On the other hand, plant-killing droughts are common in the summer months, when temperatures reach 106 degrees. During these months the local water supplies typically dry up, so not only is there no water for the farm fields, but families also have to spend their meager resources to buy water for drinking and household use.

Dependent on the unpredictable rainfall, people in the northeast practice Buddhist superstitions to please the “god of rain.” One ritual, the Bun Bang Fai, or Rocket Festival, is held every year in the second week of May. Homemade rockets launched from bamboo stalks are shot into the sky to appeal for rain.


Culture Corner

(Papaya Salad)


10 small green chilies
5 cloves fresh garlic
1 cup dried shrimp*
1½ tbsp. sugar
2 cups shredded green papaya
½ cup shredded carrot
½ cup string beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tbsp. fish sauce*
3 tbsp. lime juice
½ cup thin tomato wedges
¼ cup peanuts

* Available at Asian markets.


Use mortar and pestle to crush chilies and garlic. Add dried shrimp and continue crushing. Add sugar and stir with pestle. Transfer to mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.


Life in Northeastern Thailand

Northeastern Thailand is a vast plain covering one-third of the country. The Mekong river marks the eastern border between this region and Laos. The region is called Isan in Thai.

Isan people have strong Laotian roots. Their dialect, cuisine and beliefs are similar to those of the neighboring country. Primarily Buddhist, northeastern Thais also practice spirit worship and witchcraft.

The climate in this region is extreme. In the summer, droughts are common. During the fall rainy season, flooding often occurs. And in the winter, temperatures drop sharply. These extremes, combined with poor soil conditions, make farming, the primary economic activity of this region, difficult. As a result many adults leave their families in the countryside for months at a time while they work at menial jobs in the region’s cities, or in Bangkok, the capital city.

Children at Home

Homes in Thailand’s northeastern villages are made of cement or wood, with corrugated iron roofs. These small 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.


Community Issues and Concerns thailand north east community

Adults in the northeast often leave their children with relatives as they seek employment in cities like Bangkok, returning home only one or two times a year for brief visits. As a result, children lack parental direction and may fall into drug abuse, gang life, and sometimes prostitution.

Also, poor families in the northeast believe that the way to a better life is for their daughters to marry rich foreigners, and they pursue this goal, rather than education, for their girls.

Gambling is another issue and a popular pastime. Adults gather at one another’s homes in the evening to gamble. Sadly, children imitate their parents and have their own “pretend” gambling games.

Children in the northeast are particularly susceptible to malnutrition. They also commonly suffer from intestinal parasites. However, in remote villages, small local clinics lack the 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 drug and alcohol addiction and sexual promiscuity.

Another local challenge involves farming, the main source of income here. The poor soil supports only a few crops such as rice, sugar cane and yams, and extreme climate changes can suddenly damage or destroy crops.


Schools and Education thailand north east education

The school year in the northeastern region has two terms. The first semester is from May to October. The second semester starts in November and goes until the beginning of March. Elementary school and secondary school each last six years.

Although the government provides free education, children’s parents struggle to pay the additional costs of uniforms, textbooks and transportation. About one-third of children leave school by ninth grade to work and help provide for their families.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

At Compassion-assisted child development centers in the northeastern region, children receive tutoring to help them excel academically, as well as vocational training in such skills as baking and motorcycle mechanics. The centers provide a nutritious lunch on activity days, and most important in this strong Buddhist region, the children have the opportunity to learn about God’s love and gift of salvation in Christ.


Working Through the Local Church

In Thailand, as in each country where Compassion ministers, our program of assisting children in need is carried out through local churches. That’s because local church staff know well their community and its needs, and they are dedicated to the church’s God-given role of bringing justice, hope and redemption to the poor.

One Compassion center director says, “Some parents may be skeptical about our program, but when we tell them about the benefits for their children – such as the health checkups, free meals, and educational activities – they don’t have any problems. They know we will be teaching their children about Christ, but they trust that we will not coerce them into conversion.”

How Compassion Works in Thailand thailand north east compassion in thailand

Compassion's work in Thailand began in 1970. Currently, more than 36,700 children are registered in 228 church-based child development centers.

For more than 40 years, Compassion has been partnering with local churches, helping them provide Thai children with the material resources and learning opportunities they need to rise above their circumstances and become all that God has created them to be.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

As a Partnership Facilitator for Compassion Thailand, Kanokwan summarizes her role: “I guide churches in their partnership with Compassion and encourage them to fight for the children with the resources they have.”

Currently, Kanokwan oversees 13 church-based child development centers. Getting to these centers can be a challenge – nine hours on a bus, three hours on a van and another hour of walking. But Kanokwan doesn’t complain. “My favorite part of the job is visiting children’s homes with center staff members,” she says. “It is encouraging to see staff interacting with children and parents with such love and care. It affirms why I serve at Compassion – to create choices and provide hope for the future to the children.”


Prayer Requests

  • Pray that families dependent on farming will have a successful growing season and abundant harvest.
  • Pray that parents will understand the importance of education and support their children’s academic endeavors.
  • Pray for children and families to come to Christ in this firmly Buddhist region.
  • Pray for the health of children in the northeast who have limited access to medical care.
  • Pray for the parents of Compassion-assisted children who are working in cities far away from their families.