The idea for Jojo's Sanctuary was first planted in 2013, when our team (Butsaba, Heather and Orawan) worked together at Taw Saeng, an after school program for at risk youth in the red light district of Chiang Mai. We had multiple children come to us in crisis after their parents were incarcerated for a short time due to minor offenses and the children had nowhere to go. We discovered that short-term foster placement options for children didn't exist in our area. While we all had a heart to help children in this situation, at the time, we were not in a position to do anything to address this problem. The three of us moved on to different jobs, but the idea remained.
Then, in April of 2016, an eight-year-old boy named Jojo died as a result of injuries inflicted by his caregiver, a female relative who was not his mother. Heather had known Jojo for several years and was devastated by his loss. Jojo had been living in an isolated rural area, with relatives who had little experience raising a child and had no support system to help when things got to be too much.
Less than a month later, Orawan approached Heather with the idea to create a program for families living in the suburbs of Chiang Mai. This program would provide support and education to children and parents in suburban areas at risk of having higher rates of abuse or school dropouts. We felt that by providing support to families like this, it could help prevent a tragedy like what happened to Jojo from occurring again.
Butsaba and her husband Jay joined the team in May 2016 and Jojo's Sanctuary was born. With the addition of this couple, who felt called to be foster parents, we were finally able to meet the need we had seen so long ago and offer short-term foster placement. Today, Orawan is an advisor, while Heather, Butsaba and Jay run the day to day programming.
Honoring Jojo's memory