In 1981, the Good Shepherd Sisters came to Nongkhai, a small city in northeast Thailand along the Mekong River.
It was clear to the Sisters that the local people, disadvantaged in so many ways, had no choices available to them. Lacking education or training, employment opportunities were limited. Good Shepherd implemented development projects and village outreach programs with the local people which continue to be a source of empowerment, improving the quality of life for all involved.
Good Shepherd Volunteers in Thailand have the opportunity to fill important roles in economic justice projects and the village outreach program. The skills of the volunteer and the needs of the site are taken into account while developing a unique role for each GSV. There are typically two to three volunteers in Nongkhai, and they have the opportunity to work in the following programs.
Hands of Hope
Hands of Hope is an income-generating project begun in 2005 for those living with HIV/AIDS. Due to their illness, the workers at Hands of Hope have found it very difficult to secure work elsewhere. Facing discrimination in their village communities, the people have found support and unconditional acceptance at the Good Shepherd ‘Friendship Centre’. They work together to produce beautiful handmade cards, decorations, mobiles and gifts, exclusively using Thailand’s famous ‘saa paper’ – made from the bark of the mulberry tree. These fair trade crafts are sold locally and to international partners in Australia, Europe, and the United States through HandCrafting Justice. More than the monetary benefit, the men and women at the Hands of Hope provide friendship, encouragement and hope to one another. Good Shepherd Volunteers provide creative and administrative support to this fair trade program.
The Care Center
The Care Center, a multifaceted semi-residential health clinic for patients living with HIV/AIDS. This program offers volunteers the opportunity to provide health support to patients in a variety of ways, including but not limited to nursing, massage, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. Volunteers also support patients in participating in community building activities, games, and exercises. The volunteer need not have specific health training, but professionals from any medical or health field are encouraged to apply. Prior experience providing support and friendship to the elderly or the sick is desired.