Breaking the Cycle
Chaimon’s home is a construction site, the one where his father works. His father came to Ratchaburi in Thailand from Burma, a place Chaimon has never been, so he feels neither fully Thai - something the locals are quick to remind him - nor fully Burmese.
During the day Chaimon attends a school nearby. He has reached Grade 6, something that makes him both proud and a little nervous. Nervous because he knows that at Grade 6 the boys from his community are expected to quit school and join their fathers in working for the construction company. But Chaimon has been doing well at school and he has a dream to continue his education, perhaps to become one of the few to escape the grinding poverty shared by everyone in his community. His family needs the money he could bring in by beginning work, and they are reluctant to invest in his schooling when these non-Thai kids will never be awarded graduation certificates; but Chaimon knows he could do more for his family if only he could finish school.
Some time ago, Chaimon and some of his friends met a group of YWAMers working in Ratchaburi. This YWAM team were all too aware of the perpetual cycle of poverty experienced by the families living out their lives in and around the construction site that Chaimon calls home. The team began to work among the community, originally part of the Mon people of Burma. They work mostly with the kids and share the message of Jesus, one that is good news to the poor and the oppressed.
Over the past 2 years, Chaimon has joined a group that meets every week to talk about the truths found in the Bible and to discover how to apply those truths to their own lives. The Ratchaburi YWAMers taught them that if the lessons in the Bible are true, then they are as true for kids growing up on a construction site as they are for anyone else. As Chaimon put it, “When P’Noiy [the YWAM team leader] told me about Jesus I was very impressed about God and Jesus because He helped to heal the sick and the blind.” Chaimon became a follower of Jesus for himself.
At that point, Chaimon decided to take the YWAM team at their word; to believe them when they said that God cared about him and would answer his prayers. He had previously asked his parents whether he could continue his schooling into Grade 7. They had said no; the US$30 needed each month for school was a luxury they could no longer afford, not with younger children still needing to be paid for and Chaimon perfectly capable of holding down a paid job.
So Chaimon took what he had been learning about prayer and asked God to change the minds of his parents and somehow make them willing for him to stay in school. As the time for class registration drew near, he felt encouraged by his prayers to approach his parents a second time. They said yes! Chaimon could hardly believe his ears! He and two other boys from the community – it hardly seemed possible that all three sets of parents had agreed to this, but they had – will be the very first boys from among this group of Thai/Burmese labourers to continue their education beyond Grade 6.
The YWAM Ratchaburi team believe that God has a special plan for the children of this community and for their parents. They believe that, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, God is able to make a way out of poverty for people like these, a way for them to live in dignity. As well as teaching the ways of God, YWAM is working to help find sponsors for the children’s US$30/month schooling. Their hope is that these kids will grow sufficiently, in learning and character, to take the first steps out of poverty on behalf of their families. By learning about the love of God they have been given the gift of hope, and the opportunity to dream.