At the end of March we will have been here for two years, and we cannot begin to express our gratitude for those of you who have been with us this entire process. As we take a look at our vision and time line, we seem to be close to our target as we move toward our goal of taking in teenage orphan girls. At times it may feel slow, but it has been consistently moving forward even as the vision has expanded.
Progress Report from Asia
Forest Gump nailed our experience here with his quote, “Life is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re gonna get.” And yet, with each step we have felt ahead of where we have needed to be. Just about a year ago we started the process of opening a business here. We created this business with the intent of having a legitimate platform to hire the teenage orphan girls when we have the farm. But the business has expanded to have a larger platform. We have found that the things we want to teach the girls have a market with local families, and these families could help offset some of the farm costs by paying for these services while we continue to develop our curriculum.
Delays, Changes, Expenses
Still with each step in setting up the business, there have been more expenses and more delays. As you may remember from other updates, our desire was for Allison to finalize the work visa request while in California. This did not happen for many reasons which became comical in the end. Allison ended up having to get four different sets of fingerprints to prove that she had no criminal record in America. The last straw that broke any hope of getting it finished on that recent visit was that FedEx lost our package in the States (when does this ever happen?). With all the complications and delays here not knowing the language, it was funny that a process in America is what caused us to miss this deadline. This delay forced us to take an unplanned trip to Thailand to get a new visa, an additional $5,000 on top of extra postage, processes, procedures, and expenses that came before this last delay.
The type visa we were just issued in Thailand was a 10 year tourist visa, where we must leave the country every 60 days to renew our four visas. This is obviously a costly venture as well, so we are still rooting for our work visa to come quickly and for this new tourist visa to not complicate our work visa status.
We also just found out that the original promise we were given about being able to go forward with $30,000 USD in registered capital needed to open a business (instead of $50,000 USD) would not be honored. Therefore in the last two weeks we had to find $30,000 to process the last step of our work visa. The shock confused and stunned us to laughter, but solutions still came available.
Encouragement and Moving Forward
First, we had a local friend offer to loan us the money, but technically the money needed to come from outside of the country. We were obviously humbled by this generosity. He wanted us to know he believed in what we are doing and understood how difficult the process was to start a business here; he couldn’t imagine how difficult if you added not knowing the language and cultural differences.
Shortly afterwards we had another offer, which allows us to now continue moving forward. Each delay may have had added momentary disruption to our progress, but they have also solidified our resolve that another way that would open up later.
Through our many conversations with people here and overseas, we are convinced that what we are starting is needed, and it is a cause worth giving our lives for. Once these teenage girls leave the orphanages, there is virtually no safety net for them or other organizations available to help them. We may feel opposition, but we feel even more strongly that the forces of good will prevail. We are on the winning side.