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Acknowledged as


Stichting Light for Asia
NL 70 RABO 0126 9283 39 te Monnickendam
Onder vermelding van “Project Thailand”
ANBI    Algemeen Nut Beogende Instelling

Stichting Light for Asia
Melkkruid 47,
1441 XS Purmerend
T.  06-81513248
E. stichtinglightforasia

Peter & Tatjana Bak
PO Box 61 Muang,
Chiang Rai 57000,

M. Peter      +66 (0) 85 719 9810
M. Tatjana      +66 (0) 81 169 6268


You can read the latest news from "House of Refuge" here.

Chilis and t-shirts


Decorating your own t-shirts can be a very fun thing to do. It’s awesome to see that some of the girls are able to think completely out-of-the-box and come up with some really unique designs. Other girls like to stick to other people’s designs which is completely fine too.
How do you make that very spicy paste that is so unbelievably good with basically every dish? Well, the “mothers” taught the girls just that. You fry chilis, garlic, onion, and some other secret ingredients and then you mash it all together. Everyone had a specific task to complete and thus contributed to the whole process. Once the chili paste was done it was lunch time. During lunch they ate their food with their hand-made chili paste. The girls were very proud of the result and so were we.

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Therapeutic Rice!

altOur psychologist spent her Saturday morning with small groups of girls doing therapeutic activities. Normally they do coloring pages with pencils, markers, or crayons but this time they do it with glue and colored rice. This gives a very unique and beautiful effect. The psychologist tries to use opportunities like this to build a relationship with the girls so that she can start to know them better and so they will begin to trust her and feel at ease around her. Step by step she hopes to be able to help each girl deal with their past.



A Normal Month!

altAugust is a month like any other and the girls at House of Refuge have to go to school. This means getting up early and getting home late. After they get home they still have homework and chores to do and then the day is already over. Of course it is a privilege to be able to go to school but it’s also fun to do other things. In Thailand Mother’s Day is in August and the girls celebrate that the same as everyone else. This year, instead of celebrating at home, they went out into downtown Chiang Rai. During Mother’s Day there are a lot of things to do in the city and shops often have a lot of free items and there are all kinds of fun activities and performances throughout and in the big malls. The girls enjoyed this day immensely.





We have 5 athletes living at House of Refuge right now who are among the best in the region and will soon have an opportunity to break through into the national level. These girls participate in something called Jiu-Jitsu which is a self-defense sport. A couple of years ago we had a volunteer with us for several weeks who taught all the girls self-defense. Due to her participation at a local sports school we were able to send our girls to practice the sport further at this sports school. After a while of practicing on Saturdays it turned out that 5 of our girls really love Jiu-Jitsu and are quite good at it too. The teacher at the school wanted to give them a chance to see if they could get to higher levels in the sport. He, along with other trainers, got them to the point where they started to rise in the regional group. The sport isn’t cheap and we are extremely grateful for the continual financial support of the sport-teacher and his wife as well as the volunteer. They often have to play in competitions and not just in Chiang Rai but also Chiang Mai and Bangkok.
The 5 girls now play at a very high level which takes a lot of dedication because they have to keep their weight in check, so they don’t jump to another weight class, and they have to train every day to keep in shape. They have to do this on top of a full school-week and all their homework but these 5 are fully capable of doing this and they are really enjoying it. They are learning a ton and we have seen them grow a lot in their self-esteem over the past couple of years.
We try to find something that they can learn outside of school for each of the girls, for example: an instrument, something creative, or a new language. When they know what they want we start looking for a good place for them to do this. It is incredibly important to do something you really want and in that way develop new skills.

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Establish, lead, entrust and release!


Christina Overeem, one of the co-founders, is, after 28 years, saying good bye to House of Refuge. She looks back briefly on what was built over the years and how House of Refuge 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 House of Refuge. 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 House of Refuge 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 wellbeing 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 House of Refuge 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: “House of Refuge is my home.” Thailand is my home and I hope to live here for quite a while longer.
God knows our past, present, and future.

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More Articles...

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