Learning, Thinking, Growing, and Healing

group of people gathered around two graduates, smiling

Once, *Bam, a woman in our program at The Well, complained to me about having to learn English. She was too old to learn a new language; what was the point? I explained that even if she never used it, learning English would help her focus, improve her memory, and strengthen her brain. She didn’t learn English but she kept coming to class and she grew healthier. I know using her brain to learn something new was part of that. (She went on to work in a ministry that includes many foreign, English-speaking volunteers; funny how that works!)

At The Well, we know that the heart, body, gut, mind, and all the other parts of us are working together, all the time. We aim to be holistic in our approach, so we provide everyone with opportunities to learn, from in-house classes to university support.

Education breaks cycles—all kinds: addiction, poverty, trauma and generational cycles. Education teaches that our lives can be different. It can increase resources and enable freedom. When we talk, think, read, and talk some more, our behaviors, emotions and thoughts can change. Learning new information and skills affects our brains, increasing neuron growth and even changing brain patterns that have been altered by trauma.

Beyond the classes we provide at The Well, like Bam’s English class, we support women studying for their secondary equivalency tests (similar to the American GED). Many of the girls and women we meet are at risk because they lack a diploma; many drop out after 9th grade. This has its challenges, but there is a government equivalency program, and some universities with a dual-credit option.

Some students, or their children, go on to study at universities (or even further) and we support them holistically there, too. We do ask our students to apply for government loans, which are good and fair, and then we may also help with a stipend for expenses, along with social and emotional support.

Children of students at The Well are participating in our school break enrichment program.
(This one dressed up as Elsa for the occasion.)

This school year, we need to raise about $5,000 for our scholarships and educational stipends for our secondary and university learners. Our recipients include:

  • One young woman in her last year of university, a daughter of a woman from The Well.
  • A young man in University studying electronic engineering who has been part of The Well since he was a preschooler!
  • A high school student who struggled in public school, but is thriving in a private one.
  • A high school student in a vocational High School (auto mechanics). 
  • We are also considering several women who might be a good fit for dual credit option would require, since these are all moms who need to work. Jim and I are looking into this; still need to crunch some numbers.

These individuals are hard-working, deserving, and are real learners who are ready to break cycles—which is why we call this giving fund our “Future Leaders” fund. If you’d like to set up a recurring or one-time gift to the Future Leaders fund to help us support them, click here.

Whether it’s a university class or a small English lesson, learning means growing. I’m learning how to work in a team, how to teach, or how to navigate Thai culture. Right now, I am also in the art class my daughter teaches at The Well, and I’m learning about the elements of art. Now, I am seeing lines, hues, tints, tones, space, and texture, and I am learning how all these elements of art work together. Sometimes learning new things can take one’s breath away.

Will you join us in this learning-growing-healing work?

Pray with us for our October children’s program. Every year we run a children’s day program during the October school break here in Thailand. This year we have some wonderful Thai leaders and 12 children. Pray for healing for children and their families as we have this chance to build relationships and enrich their time off school.

If you’re lead, make a donation to the Future Leaders fund, or set up a regular gift to provide consistent support. Any amount is helpful, of course, and a gift between $30-100 every month will provide for one student. (This varies based on the student’s needs – let us know if you have questions!)

Talk to us. We know we’re not the only people who are trying to help people break cycles through education. We’d like to learn and share, even have a network.

Faithfulness, Butterflies, and a Few Good Men

Our ministry to women has always included men. Once during our first year in Bangkok, Jim and I met three young ladies at a park, to get to know them outside of their work in bars, and they brought two men with them – a boyfriend and a brother. The guys were as curious as the girls about what we were doing. Ever since, we’ve had many men at the edge of The Well. Some hope to work, to learn guitar, and to make friends. Some have hung around trying to sell drugs or stay in unhealthy relationships. But all of them, probably unbeknownst to them, bring a deep desire to find grace and love.  

We sometimes hear from Thai women we meet in the bars that they are looking for a foreign husband because “Thai men are no good” – they made bad husbands and bad fathers. In America, we use the word “players”; in Thai, they’re called “butterflies.” They flit from woman to woman – and never stay long.

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Enriching Children

March, April and May are the hottest season in Thailand. School takes a long “summer break” and our moms need reliable childcare, so we provide a holistic enrichment program for the children of The Well including science, art, and a lot of fun.

We thought you might like to get to know some of the volunteers, students, and teenagers who created a great summer program. Read on to get to know their names and faces – and thank you for supporting them with your gifts and prayers!

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Becoming the Moms We’re Called to Be

We believe in whole families here at The Well. Over the last six months, we’ve been doing some serious work on parenting education and support. We have classes for groups of mothers and one-on-one coaching. I’ve heard wonderful stories, but even with this focused approach, I still hear discouraging reports. A staff member pulled me aside to tell me of a mom hitting her 4-year-old. Another woman told me she hits her child with a hanger because he will only obey if he is afraid.

Improper parenting does not seem natural to me. None of us are born perfect parents, of course, but I believe people learn neglect and abuse from the generations before them. In parent education, we contend with automatic responses that come from memories of abuse and neglect. We invite women to end generational patterns, which isn’t something they can do quickly or easily. Our goal is to help them do very difficult work.

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A Day in the Life of a Mom at The Well

The typical “human trafficking” tale is simple: a villain lures a girl with promises of a good job, but she ends up trapped and sold. We’ve all heard some version of that story – but we’ve never heard it from a woman at The Well.

The real-life stories are never simple. Instead of being tricked by a trafficker, girls meet tricksters like peer pressure, teenage romance, or illicit drugs. They’re often trapped by abuse, economic hardship, or a mental illness.

Most women at The Well are young single moms who ended up working “at night” to support their kids. These women are a key reason we focus on holistic family recovery, from keeping nursing babies next to mom to offering parenting classes and support.

We want you to understand what we do and why, but we also want to keep women’s’ stories private. This essay is a fictionalized day in the life of a young mother who is new to The Well.

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