It was meant to be a short volunteer trip to a little Thai town. Just a couple of months in the summer of 2001, teaching English in some local schools.
But after hearing that one of their young students was at immediate risk of being sold into prostitution, there was no turning back for our co-founders. They knew they had to do something, and moved to northern Thailand in 2002 to be part of the solution to a problem they didn’t yet fully understand. It was the unofficial start of something big.
Four years later, Compasio officially began its work in Mae Sot, a small town bordering Myanmar. We started out by sitting down with vulnerable women and children to listen to their stories. Getting to know the families that made up our local communities became the foundation for everything we did.
For over 11 years, our team of Thai and Burmese nationals worked tirelessly to strengthen families torn apart by domestic violence, poverty and substance abuse. Our commitment to the best interest of children -- and to always doing better -- led us to innovative methods. We arranged family-based alternative care for children who had no safe place to call home, and our emergency shelter became a government-decreed provincial model for victims of violence and trafficking. We set up a preschool for struggling families and a vocational program for local teens. In short, we did all that we could to empower our community to make healthy choices.
But something was missing: Sustainability.
Like most small organizations, we often struggled to fund our ever-expanding vision. Economic crises and the competition for donor dollars in a social media age became heavy burdens to carry. Meanwhile, our commitment to hiring locally meant we had very little work to offer international professionals who were knocking down our door.
In 2018, we came alive to the incredible potential we were sitting on. How many small, national-led organizations like Compasio existed in our town? In our province? In our country? How many of them faced similar struggles? And on the other hand, how many working professionals across the world were itching for a way to make a difference, to give back in a thought-through, ethical way?
How many children could be reached by empowering grassroots efforts all over the world?
And that became the start of Compasio 2.0: Matching short-term professionals to world-changing grassroots efforts, all with the passion to see every child thriving in a healthy family.