Stronger community network a key to overcoming poverty
In 1998, I was involved in a creative arts team that spent two weeks within the Klong Toey slum of Bangkok.
We were invited by The Klong Toey Community Center which was established in 1979 by Australian couple Ash and Angie Barker, who share a deep passion for working with the urban poor to bring positive change.
The poorest families who live in the sprawling slum area lack opportunities and access to common amenities. They comprise of Thai locals who have slipped through the cracks into poverty and foreign minorities who have sought out safety in Thailand.
Much like in India, these families remain stuck in debt bondage or hazardous work, they are vulnerable to exploitation.
The centre creates a safe haven in the Klong Toey slum area, drawing youths away from harmful activities and uniting the community in support of each other.
The Klong Toey Community Centre provides a Montessori nursery which looks after more than 60 preschool students. Older Children are given the opportunity to join music groups, youth groups, soccer and basketball teams, language classes and attend camps.
Young men are provided self-esteem and hope building programs, helping pull them out of depression, or dangerous and unhealthy spheres of influence such a gangs and drugs.
For adults, the centre offers counselling services, vocational training and hosts two micro-enterprise programs: a coffee shop and a craft boutique.