Time flies when you are having fun!
Let me tell you a story.
In 2008, Michael Shafer and Evelind Schecter, a former Rutgers University professor and a successful businesswoman from New York, took on a dramatically different retirement plan.
This husband-wife team started a new chapter of their lives in the remote Phrao district of northern Thailand, sharing a life mission dedicated to promoting equality and improving the lives of those living in poverty.
When asked their motivation for establishing Warm Heart Michael’s answer may surprise you.
“A group of very brave young women pushed me into it. In the summer of 2007, I led a program to train 25 young women from the Greater Mekong Region (Burma, Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam) to start their own NGOs. Some had worked in the sex trade or had been labor “trafficked.”
Most were interested in starting NGOs to deal with the issue of what is called “sex trafficking” in the US, but they thought that our understanding of “sex trafficking” was naive and stupid, if not simply deceitful.
I spent hours talking to them.
They told me their stories and the stories of their mothers, sisters, cousins and friends. They showed me the fingers that had been torn off by machines and the scars from cigarette burns. And they told me that they had all signed up to go; the “traffickers” had provided an essential service – getting them to a place of work –and that they had willingly paid for the “traffickers'” services.
Because the work was the best option they had.
We started Warm Heart for them. We never talk about “trafficking.” The mothers of many of our children work in the business. No, Warm Heart is not an “anti-trafficking” organization. Warm Heart exists to improve the lives of young women like those young women we’re talking about to the point that life in a brothel will never again be an option.”
Over the past 8 years Warm Heart has grown tremendously, with many active programs covering a wide area.
Warm Hearts Children’s Homes, the core of Warm Heart, continues to grow.
Today there are 46 children living here, 5 more are away at Technical High School, and another 5 in college.
Giving of themselves to help others is not new to them. While living in the US Michael and Evelind adopted four children and raised 20 others, most between the ages of 8 and 14, kids who had been abused, spent years in foster care, abused drugs, were members of refugee families splintering under the strain of life in the United States.
And they also took care of young, single mothers as well. “Everyone had their chores and encouraged their brothers and sisters to confront their demons,” says Shafer. “We may have had the frankest and most fun-filled dinner table in New Jersey.”
Today the message they give their children is
“If you have small dreams, you will have a small life. If you have big dreams, you may not achieve them all, but you will achieve more than you ever imagined possible!”
Both Michael and Evelind work tirelessly to keep Warm Heart thriving and growing, working towards creating a sustainable future.
But they can not do it on their own.
With a recent influx of 11 new kids, they find themselves in need of some new sponsors.
We are kicking off year number 9 (which in Thai is a lucky number) with a Child Sponsorship Campaign to give support to Michael and Evelind. They are doing all the hard work, all they need is someone who cares and has a little extra money to commit to the sponsorship of a child. If not you, who?
Highlights from this past year
Our Environmental Program has been growing like wildfire (in a biochar oven of course!) We are very happy to announce the we received the following honor:
Warm Heart kicked off a 5 year plan to help reduce the annual smoke that is polluting our world. With a grant from the Canadian government, Warm Heart ran a successful “Stop the Smoke” campaign, working with over 100 farmers in the heavy corn growing area of Mae Chaem.
The Mae Chaem pilot project has taught the Warm Heart Biochar Team how to differentiate among locations and to select the correct technical solution for each.
- Where the bulk of the developing world crop waste smoke problem originates from the fields of billions of widely dispersed small farmers, very low-cost, low-tech machines distributed to individual families makes financial and organizational sense.
- Where the characteristics of the crop result in concentrations of large amounts of waste in central locations, larger equipment is necessary.
- Where the amounts of waste are truly immense (as in Mae Chaem or the Punjab), a switch to an entirely different technology, biomass gasifier power plants, is required.
Warm Heart hopes to begin a collaboration with Chiang Mai University to test a truck mounted biochar system capable of producing 1 ton of char an hour.
Warm Heart is already working with local officials to form a sub-district cooperative to build a 1 MW biomass gasifier power plant that will convert 17,000 tons of corn waste to biochar annually.
Microenterprise has taken on a new look as well. We have expanded our program to include more training material for both men and women to encourage new microenterprise opportunities that will provide a sustainable income while also helping with the environment.
Trekking for Kids volunteers came to Warm Heart and built us a much needed new boys dorm.
They had a blast with our kids during their visit.
This past year we have had a professional nurse’s assistant interning as manager of our Home Visit program. She has done a wonderful job and we are trying to raise money to offer her a permanent position. She has worked with P’Beer, who continues to improve. Dit’s business is growing, he is making money, and beginning to pay back his start up microloan.
Our well was funded and built, once our tower is up the project will be complete.
We have several projects we are working on for the upcoming year, stay tuned!
It’s Our Birthday!
July 4th, 2017 marks the beginning of our ninth year. If you would like to give a gift to help us continue to move ahead we would be deeply honored!
Introducing Warm Heart’s Class of 2017- 2018
We have several children who deserve special mention who are waiting for their very own sponsor.
Most of our new children are starting 7th grade.
This is their chance to make it through high school and beyond.
They all come from remote, hill tribe villages with no schools, families where Grandma has been raising them because parents are in jail or left them at birth.
The families are too poor to keep the children in school, but they know it is their only chance for a better life.
They don’t’ need to be at the top of their class, but show perseverance and drive to study and get ahead.
As a sponsor, you will be giving a gift that goes on giving for generations.
A Great Big Thank You!
We continue to be showered with love from Building Futures Thailand! During this past year they added computers and furniture to the Barb’s Place Education Center they built for us a few years ago.
BFT also helped fund the electric work to do 3phase for our well, and continue to improve our landscaping and additional water catchment tanks. We are so grateful to have Building Futures on our team!