P’ Kaew’s experience of poverty transformed into compassion
Dadchanee Ariso, known fondly to many as P’ Kaew, was born to a family suffering poverty in the province of Nan, Thailand. Her memories of childhood remind her of the lack she suffered, and left her with a single motivation: “Get an education and work very hard to have a better life than my parents had.”
“I sought stability for my family through hard work, but the harder I tried, the further I seemed from a better life,” she reflected. “I finally realized the truth when my family failed, and I saw that human love isn’t enough to sustain a family. I came to know Jesus and saw that He was enough.”
God transformed P’ Kaew’s financial anxiety into a deep burden for her family and others. “I shifted from thinking mostly about myself and my own economic situation, to having compassion for others struggling in the same situation.”
“My hope is that my family and other families would know Santisuk (Shalom). There is a lot of injustice in Thai society, and people experiencing poverty aren’t able to access the rights and resources that they need. I want to see justice for families in these communities.”
Since then, P’ Kaew has partnered with God for 20 years of ministry. She currently works with the local government and the Community Organizations Development Institute to support people-driven community development. She is also a ministry partner with Servant Partners, and has worked with Servant Partners staff Suzy Triplett to co-found and lead the Santisuk (Shalom) Families Program in Bangkok, Thailand. This one-year, Gospel-centered mentoring program holistically develops families to care for themselves, become financially stable, resolve interpersonal conflict, and serve their community with love and generosity.
But working with families is anything but simple. The families in her program have faced tremendous hardship in recent years—evictions, job loss, COVID-19 hospitalizations, and family separation. They are also marginalized by poverty and learning to follow Jesus in Buddhist-majority Thailand. Through it all, P’ Kaew and her co-leaders have poured out their life to shepherd these families in Christ.
“My hope is that my family and other families would know Santisuk (Shalom).” P’ Kaew said. “There is a lot of injustice in Thai society, and people experiencing poverty aren’t able to access the rights and resources that they need. I want to see justice for families in these communities.”
Dara*attended the Santisuk Families Program program with her five family members. When they first joined, they were unhoused. Through one year of mentoring through the program, they were able to rent their own home, start a small business to earn a livelihood and send their children to school, and regularly tithe to their local church. Like Dara, several families have started businesses, received training in financial management, broken toxic family dynamics, and been empowered to care for other vulnerable families in their neighborhoods. The program has seen many families reconciling with one another and with other families.
“When I think back on these 20 years, I never imagined my life would look like this,” P’ Kaew reflected. “But I think about the disciples whom Jesus chose. They were fishermen—not wealthy, powerful people. And yet, He used their lives to create a spiritual revolution. I draw strength and courage from that. If He can do that with those disciples, He can do it with me.”
This story was published in the 2022 Annual Report.