It was meant to be a short volunteer trip to a little Thai town. Just a couple of months in the summer of 2001, teaching English in some local schools.
But after hearing that one of their young students was at immediate risk of being sold into prostitution, there was no turning back for our co-founders. They knew they had to do something, and moved to northern Thailand in 2002 to be part of the solution to a problem they didn’t yet fully understand. It was the unofficial start of something big.
Four years later, Compasio officially began its work in Mae Sot, a small town bordering Myanmar. We started out by sitting down with vulnerable women and children to listen to their stories, and we haven't stopped.
We worked to strengthen families torn apart by domestic violence, poverty and substance abuse. And in cases where our efforts still couldn't guarantee a safe family environment, we removed children from their homes with heavy hearts and temporarily placed them in our care until their families returned to a healthy state.
But change is difficult. And over time we agonized over the family situations that didn’t improve, which left children in our care for much longer than expected. Although we offered loving protection in small, family-style homes, we knew that staff caretakers are a poor substitute for the love and care of a permanent, stable family. Our hearts were burdened by this growing problem for which we seemed unable to find a viable solution.
As part of our expansion efforts in 2013, we sought a financial partnership with an Australian organization. Although ACCI Relief was interested in our work, its policy was to partner only with organizations that supported family-based care, not children’s homes or orphanages.
We had a lot of questions, and they had the answers. Their consultants along with the experts in SFAC, taught us how to develop individual care plans and how to identify and train potential foster families. They helped us track down extended family members and showed us how to explore every positive avenue of care. Most importantly, they showed us how to help each child and family transition into their new situation at their own pace.
We’ve now found healthy families for more than 30 children. Some of them are with next of kin; others are with long-term foster families, and some older teens have made the leap to semi-independent living. ( See our process. )
We haven’t closed our doors to children in need. Our emergency shelter still accepts children needing urgent help, and we still welcome children to our transition home. The difference is that we can now work with them toward a solid future in a healthy family.