For the past 4 ½ years, ever since our founders Aaron and Carrien Blue picked up their children and life and moved it all to Thailand in order to directly catalyze the further growth of our vision and projects for protecting at-risk children, the Charis Project in Thailand has been operating as a subsidiary of another Thai foundation. In order for foreign volunteers to be legal (visas, work permits, etc.) in Thailand we needed to work under the auspices of an existing registered Thai national foundation.
We made an excellent relationship with Christian Outreach Center Foundation. We helped them to establish and manage a branch office in Maesot and they authorized our legal status in Thailand. Over the past 4 years, our projects and team has grown from 4 people to a team of 33 people from three different countries, speaking 12 different languages with 8 different projects directly engaging and helping over 150 families per month and ready to reach more.
We had become too big to be a subsidiary of another foundation any longer.
In December 2016 we started putting together the documents and paperwork required to establish our own Thai national foundation. At the end of January we first submitted our application to the district government office. At the end of May we received our foundation documents. Somehow, a long, painful, difficult process went quickly and simply and painlessly for us. Our lawyer (who is an amazing person himself) said that our foundation was his “masterpiece.” He had never seen the process go so easily. We had favor at every step and at every single government office the application needed to pass through.
Now we have a Thai national foundation. Now we can sponsor our own visas and work permits. Now we can own land. Now we have direct relationships with the government officers and offices. Now we can make official alliances with other NGO’s and foundations in the region. This is the next step in our goal to always do a better job of healing families, strengthening families, and keeping families together.
Our new foundation needed a name. Since the Thai foundation is exclusively related to operations and relationships in Thailand we wanted it to have a name that has good meaning in Thai and Burmese language and culture. The Charis Project is foreign sounding and unfamiliar to local ears.
We had been using the name Shade Tree for some of our projects, a name given by a local staff member, because the cultural meaning matches what we are working to do. In Thai and Burmese culture, this name has rich meaning. Under the big shady tree is where the whole community comes freely to find shelter from the hot sun, it is where people go to discuss and solve community difficulties, it has no walls, so it is open to everyone. The name has a safe and happy and open feeling in the cultures where we work. So we decided to call the entire Thai branch of The Charis Project’s operations “Shade Tree Foundation”.
We are so thrilled that this process has gone so smoothly but it has still been a lot of work. We have had to focus significant attention and energy onto this process so that it would be as good as possible. All of us here love what we do because we love healing families, strengthening families, and keeping families together. Even though we know that this process is critical for our long term effectiveness the whole team is looking forward to finishing up with all the administrative and legal processes of launching a new foundation so that we can get back to focusing all of our energy directly onto healing families, strengthening families, and keeping families together.
****We are very thankful for the guidance and partnership of COC Foundation, National Director Jonathan Vickers and the whole team. We would not be able to be where we are now without your encouragement and help. We look forward to being stronger partners in the future so that together we can better bring joy and strength to those who need it in this country and beyond. We are pleased that we have had such a good relationship thus far and pleased that we are going out as friends and partners for the future.
Aaron is the co-founder of The Charis Project. He is the current CEO also. In Thailand he is president and director of Shade Tree Foundation, our Thai partner foundation.