Christina Overeem, one of the co-founders, is, after 28 years, saying good bye to Baan Phak Phing. She looks back briefly on what was built over the years and how Baan Phak Phing has grown.
Looking back and looking ahead
“It all started in 1990, somewhere in Bangkok in a small street. Together with Heidi and Phouang, we took the first girls into our home. They had been rescued from brothels and couldn’t return home. This was the start of Baan Phak Phing. We moved to Chiang Rai after 6 years in Bangkok because most of the girls came from the North of Thailand. In Chiang Rai our work started to grow and we began taking in girls who had been abused by people in their immediate environment.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Thai people started taking care of their own people, outside of their immediate family. My vision has always been that Thai people would end up running this House of Refuge. The daily care of the girls has always been taken care of by Thai “mothers” but until recently I was always the leader of the house. That has now changed. Over time my vision for Baan Phak Phing has become the vision of the “mothers” as well and 4 of them have grown into the leaders of this work. Together they decided that they wanted to be responsible for the ministry. One of their first questions was: “Do you trust us?” Without even having to think about it, my answer was: “Yes.” I started to move into a supporting role and they became a team of leaders. Meanwhile the Bak family had been working with us for several years and Peter and Tatjana took over responsibility for the administration and finances. About a year and a half ago a young psychologist joined our team and I was able to help her settle into the work of counseling the girls with their individual traumatic experiences. Now, after 28 years, I feel like my vision has been fulfilled.
Living and working in another language and culture hasn’t always been easy. At times the concern I felt for their well-being weighed heavily on me but one thing was very clear to me: Never give up, look for solutions together. People have often said that our work is like a drop in the ocean. But I tend to think more of a pebble that gets thrown into a pond and creates ripples that keep getting bigger. It only takes one person to bring change in their environment.
My calling hasn’t ended but has expanded to include other places where I get to share my experiences about working with our girls. I also help the staff of those places to see how they can continue to do their amazing work without losing hope. I will stay in contact with Baan Phak Phing here in Thailand and will continue in my position on the board in the Netherlands. In one of the last sessions with one of the girls she told me: “Baan Phak Phing is my home.” Thailand is my home and I hope to live here for quite a while longer.
God knows the past, present, and future.”