The Bridge of Hope - Camillian Social Centre

Project code: THCT-1200098

Key Statistics

Camillian Social Centre (CSC), also known as the Independent Living Centre, in Rayong, Thailand, is a relief hub for people living with HIV/AIDS. Rayong is a province in the eastern part of Thailand. It covers over 3,000 Km2 and has a population of 750,000 people.

people live with HIV/AIDS in Thailand
520k
people can be supported through this project
170+
years project duration
3

The centre is located within an urban area where there are various bustling places nearby, including the Provincial Office, a Police Station, Maptaphutpan Pittayakhan School, and Centre Rayong City. This area is also close to popular tourist places such as Chonburi, Pattaya, and Chantaburi.

The centre is a government-approved, charitable, and non-profit organisation. It was established in 1995 as a part of the St. Camillus Foundation of Thailand and is administrated by a Camillian congregation. When it opened, the centre sought to serve local needs of people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS giving priority to the poorest and marginalised.

Since 1999, the centre has been focused on helping internally displaced orphaned children living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. These vulnerable children are orphaned because their parents have passed from HIV/AIDS, they may have been rejected by their family, or their family cannot financially support the care they need. They are alone and subject to stigmatisation in their communities. CSC supports these children in accessing antiretroviral treatment medicine and helps them to gain an education.

For many years now, the Camillian Social Centre has relied heavily on donations. Recently CSC, as well as many organisations around the world, is facing the challenges of financial crisis. Staff have a growing concern surrounding income and the longevity of the centre. As a result CSC is looking to achieve sustainability. In 2022, a team of administrators and young leaders of CSC visited various Social Enterprise Projects, which partner with Catholic Mission in Cambodia, allowing them to accumulate ideas, knowledge, motivation, and see the possibility of achieving their goal.

Partner capacity

Catholic Mission's partnership with CSC began in 2019 as a Pontifical Mission Societies project allocation. During a monitoring and evaluation visit, our staff found significant untapped potential in skills and capacity to increase the centre's financial sustainability and encourage further community engagement.

A barber chair was discovered in the staff room where a teacher with barbering skills cut both students and members of the communities hair. Additionally, another teacher had excellent cooking skills and made delcious Thai sweets. As part of the discovery phase our Program's Team implements, these skills are great foundations to build upon. Our team continued to work with CSC to figure out where Catholic Mission can add value and what would work for them.

During this time CSC explored options of their own. They were able to acquire a donation to purchase a coffee machine which they used to create a stall they moved around the community and had great success. This simple mini-project had a significant positive impact on the children from the centre, they found as they engaged more in the community it equipped them with customer service skills and also reduced stigma about HIV/AIDS.

With collaboration and support from the Catholic Mission team, the project ‘The Bridge of Hope’ for Sustainability of CSC Rayong, was born. The title of this project comes from the partner’s message to pass hope down from one generation to the next. This work will be based out of the Independent Living Centre for Youth, one of eight projects run by the Camillian Social Centre in Rayong.

The Bridge of Hope’s goal is to establish training for teenagers of CSC by setting up a social enterprise café, a soccer field which can be rented out, a barber shop, and an organic farm. The café will be called La Vivo Café, meaning ‘life’ in Esperanto – the language of hope and equality of humankind.

Project visit to Cambodia

In June 2022, a team from CSC consisting of two teachers, a priest, a brother and two students travelled to Cambodia to meet Catholic Mission staff at the Regional Mission Development Office and visit a range of social enterprises run by the Prefecture in Battambang. It was a very informative and inspiring trip that solidified their goals and gave them confidence in their own capacity to deliver a similar business model. Catholic Mission will continue to foster this kind of collaborative approach into the future between local
partners.

About the project

With this project, CSC can provide greater quality of life for vulnerable children living with HIV and affected by AIDS. This work will increase access to necessities including medication and healthcare, as well as education promoting prevention of HIV/AIDS. This integrated approach allows a range of project objectives to be met, including:

  1. The practical act of setting up a café, soccer field, barber shop, and organic farm, within the first year of this project period.
  2. After construction, the Bridge of Hope will generate a projected 450,000 THB (approx. $20,000 AUD) within the first year of management.
  3. This project will result in a practical training centre for marginalised people with a capacity to support at least 50 persons per year.

This project with not only generate income for the centre, but it will also develop participants life skills, reducing dependency and enhancing human dignity of all those involved.

Those benefitting from this project include those directly participating such as the 24 orphaned teenagers living with HIV and affected by AIDS at CSC, plus the three carers onsite. Indirectly, 26 orphaned children, 73 HIV patients, nine volunteers, and 36 staff, will be able to access the facilities and reap the benefits from this work. Nearby communities will have a communal space to gather, support those in need in their area, learn about people living with HIV/AIDS, and reduce stigma.

The Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. Our foundational values of communication, trust, faith, context, future, and capacity inform the way we interact with project partners and develop new relationships.

Project activities for the Bridge of Hope include:

  • Construction of the La Vivo Café, soccer field for rent, barber shop, and organic farm which will be completed within 8-10 months.
  • Opening and running of the social enterprises listed above.
  • Implementing a two-part practical training program, one for those who will be the main operators of each activity in the project, and the other a monthly training for community members with an interest in learning life skills for their careers in the future.

Poverty is both a cause and consequence of health outcomes. HIV/AIDS continues to carry stigma and isolate individuals who have been impacted by the disease. The Bridge of Hope project will increase awareness of HIV/AIDS, reducing the social impacts of the disease in the community.

This project, through creating a sustainable source of income and reducing stigma, will enable CSC to continue elevating their delivery of care to vulnerable people impacted by HIV/AIDS.

This project will provide vocational training for teenagers living with and affected by HIV/AIDS who live at the CSC. Education settings provide a unique opportunity for synodality, allowing those who access it to engage with others they may not have before and positively contribute to the wider community.

Social enterprises can provide economic empowerment, capacity building, and education in the communities they are located in*. This project will provide this through several stages, including, construction and renovation of facilities, and the running and management of the café, barber shop, and farm.