Through the gift of some special funding, the Lutheran Hour Ministries center in Thailand—known locally as Journey Into Light (JIL)—did a project to help school children in Guiburi District, Prachuap Khiri Khan Province. With the title of “Bright Teeth and Happy Feet,” the project addressed a need the JIL director and staff discovered during the Christmas school outreach in December 2010. They learned some schools didn’t have their students brush their teeth after lunch. This was because these schools had insufficient money in their budgets to provide toothbrushes, toothpaste and cups for the students.
Last month, the JIL director and some staff visited seven schools in Guiburi District. They took gift packs for each of the 643 students. These contained two toothbrushes, two tubes of toothpaste, one plastic cup, a pamphlet explaining why it’s important for the students to brush their teeth every day and a Christian pamphlet. Each student also received a paper model of teeth, so they could practice brushing their own properly.
Another observation concerned these students’ school uniforms, which include socks because a lot of bacteria can be picked up by the children’s feet. That’s especially important in rural areas like Guiburi District. During the Christmas school outreach program, the JIL director noticed that many students didn’t wear socks or that their socks were worn with holes. So, the gift packs also included three pairs of socks for each child.
The JIL team was assisted by Pastor Wichian Rakkhanto from Guiburi Full Gospel Church and some of his church members. Several dentists volunteered to teach the students proper brushing techniques. Pastor Wichian and his church members made all the arrangements for doing the project at each one of the schools and arranging for the dentists to help. Pastor Wichian also invited the students to visit his church on Saturday mornings to receive free lessons on playing the guitar, drums and keyboard. He then closed each program with prayer.
At each school JIL staff led the students in fun activities and singing songs about the importance of brushing their teeth. They also sang a Christian song about God’s love. The students were very happy to get the gift packs and really enjoyed the activities and singing. It was a good way for them to have fun while learning important information about oral hygiene.
All the school principals agreed to allow time and supervision for the students to brush their teeth after lunch each day. Pastor Wichian and the dentists plan to visit the schools one to two times a month to see if students are following through with this. It’s also a good opportunity for him to build relationships with the principals, teachers and some students, which can help with sharing the Gospel in as many schools as possible.
Included in these schools’ regular curriculum is a class about some of the world’s different religions. Several school principals invited Pastor Wichian to teach the section about Christianity. This will give him an excellent chance to get involved in these schools and to share God’s love through his teaching and the help he offers.
Because the JIL director was able to purchase supplies for the gift packs at a greater discount than expected, some of the money for the project wasn’t spent on the seven schools in Guiburi District. As a bonus, the JIL staff plans to repeat this project for an additional 774 students at one school in Samut Songkhram Province and two schools in Suphanburi Province in June.
We thank God everything went so smoothly with this project and that we’ll be able to help more than twice the number of students we expected.
For news updates from Thailand please visit the LHM-Thailand blog.