What lies down the track?

In the warm shadow of the overhead Bangkok highway, alongside the railway tracks slicing through the slum structures, in an area full of sights and smells most people go out of their way to avoid; lives Kainui.

Kainui already wears his environment like outer clothes. Although six years of age, he has the size and look of a three-year-old. His constant companion is the television – always on – often showing images children should not see.

His parents are drug users and the slums harbour crime. Few words shock Kainui. His body carries underdeveloped upper arms, smaller and thinner than his forearms. His body also sometimes carries bruising from where his father has hit him while drunk.

Since he was one, Kainui has attended the Home of Praise community centre. Home of Praise is in the slums, in the heart of where Kainui lives. Opened approximately 17 years ago and run by the Diakonia Department of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thailand (ELCT), Home of Praise provides day care including education, food, activities, love and hope for 35 children aged six months to four years. The aim of Home of Praise is to provide a holistic education, helping the child to develop socially and emotionally, as well as academically. In addition, the nursery helps to prepare the children for preschool.

ELCT started this nursery as a recognition of the support and help required in the community. When the community was asked what they needed, the residents all mentioned a nursery for small children. There were hardly any nurseries for this age group there. And today, apart from what ELCT offers, the situation is the same.

Kainui is a very active boy who especially enjoys playing in the Home of Praise playground. He loves cartwheels and fooling around. He finds it hard to concentrate. His body seems to use all his energy for moving around, leaving his brain struggling to develop. He constantly wants attention. He likes English classes and loves it when foreigners come to visit Home of Praise.

His father says he likes Home of Praise very much because there are toys to play with and good food and milk, while at home he has nothing – and no place to move around.

Home of Praise has recently been extended. They were able to buy the neighbouring site and then build a two-floor building that contains two more classrooms, giving them an opportunity to enrol more children. It also gives the children the opportunity to attend the nursery one year longer. Until now, they could only give the children a place until they turned three. Now, they can give the children a place until they are old enough to start in the government preschool. Rather than being enrolled in another kindergarten, they saw that many of the children left Home of Praise, only to hang around in the community.

Like for all of us, what lies ahead down the track for Kainui, is unknown. The now for Kainui though, has moments of love, times to jump with joy, people to smile with and a sense of hope.

The love that comes from Jesus changes the lives of those who receive that love, just as it changes the lives of those who love!

Over the years, dozens of LCA members have volunteered to serve the children at Home of Praise through LCA International Mission. These have included teachers, musicians and those wanting to share the love, they know, as children of God. Almost inevitably, the people who volunteer to help and give of their time, experience not just the joy of giving, but a deep sense of learning and having received blessings. God offers opportunities to give and receive as he integrates us as part of his larger community. To love is to be loved, to give is to receive – all part of an amazing tapestry woven by God.

We thank the Lutheran Women of Australia for their support of Home of Praise and we encourage you to consider volunteering as COVID-19 restrictions are lessened in the coming months and years. Please continue to pray for the children and staff at Home of Praise. Pray for a sense of joy, peace, and love for all those who learn and serve there.

Pray also for God to reveal to you where there are opportunities to make a difference in the lives and faith development of your children, family, and local community and to be his light and love each day.

Nipaporn Kunaruk, Anne Storstein Haug and Nevin Nitschke

About the Author

Nevin Nitschke

Nevin Nitschke is Program Officer for Lutheran Church of Australia International Mission (LCAIM)

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