We are five months into our Building Family Dreams program and have started planning with the families what they will do for income generating projects. We were so excited to be blessed with exactly the right amount of funding we needed to implement this plan just as our previous funding fell through. It was nothing short of a miracle and we are so grateful to Wessel and Ut Huisjes for connecting us with their church in the Netherlands that provided this financing for the families.
Of course, before embarking on any business venture, one needs to have a business plan and know how to manage their finances. This is incredibly difficult to do when you don't know how much money you will make from one month to the next. We are hopeful that having these individual businesses will provide some more stability for the families.
To learn about financial planning, Minh Dao, one of my Covenant church teammates, generously prepared a workshop in both household finances and business planning. The families have never had this sort of financial exposure before so it was a whole new experience for them. They were very interested, but it will take some more encouragement and support from our team to make these small businesses a success. We are excited to be a part of this new phase in the life of this community. We have families interested in raising chickens, pigs, hand sewing, machine sewing and running a noodle shop.
While the parents were learning about budgeting, the kids were learning too. They each got $300 in Thai baht (the current minimum wage) and we set up an area to go through all the different things we need in life: food, housing, gas/petrol, and clothing. Plus, we had to plan for savings and entertainment, of course. It was fun to see them try to figure out how fancy of a house they could live in and still have money for video games. Some kids had to borrow from their more frugal friends before we got to the end of the game, while others lived as cheaply as possible and had lots of money left over at the end of the game.
Then they got to exercise their creativity muscles by making piggy banks to save all their spare change. Even though everyone decided to save money in the bank in our game, it will be interesting to see whether any of them follow through this month and use their banks.