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World of Difference

Welcome to Thailand, where you’re helping churches overcome poverty and become beacons of light in the community.

A photo of Supapohn standing and smiling. She is part of the Yellow Lahu tribe, a semi-nomadic people who were relocated by the Thai government

Welcome สวัสดี ครับ สวัสดี ครับ ( English translation ) ( Thai )


You’ve arrived in Thailand, where 95 per cent of the population identify as Buddhist and only 1.17 per cent are Christian. But that’s still around 82,000 people, and like yeast that works throughout the dough, they are having a transformative effect in their communities, despite being in a minority.

Come with us and see a World of Difference in Chiang Rai, Thailand, where small churches are making a big difference…

Watch this introductory video from Tui, a Tearfund staff member from Thailand.

How your support transforms lives

Thailand in numbers

Making a clean start

Your support is transforming lives in Ruammit Pattana, Thailand.

Supapohn making washing up liquid

Thanks to training from a Tearfund partner, Supapohn makes washing up liquid.

‘Vegetables are expensive these days,’ says Supapohn. She lives in a village called Ruammit Pattana, a rural community of around 20 families in Chiang Rai Province, near the borders with Myanmar and Laos.

Supapohn is part of the Yellow Lahu, traditionally a semi-nomadic people group who usually live in remote mountains. All this changed for her community when the Thai government relocated them out of the state-owned forest to a small plot of land in the foothills. But they still do not own the land and there’s not enough room to farm to support their families.

‘Our family raises pigs and grows vegetables,’ says Supapohn, who lives with her husband and children. She has accepted the move from the mountains because life there was tough. ‘We lived very far from here. There was no electricity and the road in the rainy season was difficult to travel on. It was difficult to take sick people to the hospital and educating our children was hard.’

But life is a challenge in Ruammit Pattana too. Despite their best efforts in farming and taking low-paid jobs in the city, the costs of daily goods and food are increasing. They needed a new initiative to turn things around. The answer was somewhat unexpected…

Tearfund’s partner, the Mekong Minority Foundation (MMF), helps traditional ethnic minority communities like Ruammit Pattana to survive and progress as the world changes around them. They brought together ten congregations in the area to discuss how local churches can help to transform their communities.

Members of Ruammit Church helping to make washing-up liquid.

Members of Ruammit Church helping to make washing-up liquid. 

Thanks to this intervention, the church in Ruammit Pattana realised that there was not enough agricultural land to support all the families through farming. They had to find another way to reduce costs.

Washing-up liquid is something essential to the community, helping to keep their utensils clean and also to maintain hygiene. But used daily, it was costly to buy. MMF, through the church training, encouraged the community to use what they had around them as resources. They found that there were free, natural products that could be used to make washing-up liquid within the surrounding area.

‘The Mekong Minority Foundation asked me what skills I wanted to learn,’ says Supapohn. ‘I suggested making washing-up liquid. We learned to make it together. It is practical and worthwhile because one batch costs 200 baht [£4.75]. That’s enough for one family for a year. We can choose the thickness, quantity and aroma to our tastes. And we can teach the children and let them help to get it done faster.

‘I like the recipe I am doing now because sometimes the herbs are hard to find.’

A photo of Sodium lauryl sulphate being added and melted into the liquid
Two women making washing up liquid

Top: Sodium lauryl sulphate is added and melted into the liquid.  Bottom: Making washing-up liquid is a community effort and helps to keep people healthy. 

This an example of the innovative solutions that your support is making possible. And this is just the start. It's already easing the cost of living pressure on households in Ruammit Pattana. Supapohn and the others who are involved plan to expand and develop a business selling detergent. ‘To start selling, we will have to look at the market,’ she says. ‘For now, we have the opportunity to give it away to people in the village.’

Four women holding up baskets of plates to be washed

Making washing up liquid in bulk is much cheaper than buying from the shops – and there are a lot of plates to wash! 

Supapohn enjoys sharing her faith through her actions in the community, ‘When we have something to share, like pork, we share it. I sometimes go to help an older person in the village who can't use the phone. We help each other as much as we can.’

Pastor Jalae wants the church in Rummit Pattana to continue to thrive. ‘I want to see everyone knowing God more and becoming actively involved in worship, serving and sharing with others about the kingdom. And to understand the word of God better.’

Thank you for your regular gifts that are enabling transformation like this across the world.

‘I want to see everyone know God more’
Pastor Jalae
A photo of the chilli paste

Local recipe

He’s got chillies, they’re multiplying…

Thailand is known for its aromatic, delicious and (sometimes very) spicy cuisine. In Mae Pi Kee in Chiang Mai, Mr Yuttana – a farmer who grows mostly red beans and corn – wouldn’t dream of buying hot sauce from the supermarket. Not when he grows all the ingredients on his land. And thanks to training from Thailand Karen Baptist Convention, he now farms sustainably without using chemical fertilisers. Here's Mr Yuttana's recipe for chilli paste, perfect as a base for curries or a - very spicy - dip. It's not for the faint-hearted...


  • A handful of green chillies
  • Two shallots or small onions
  • One to two cloves of garlic
  • A pinch of salt
  • Fermented beans (optional)


  1. Grind up the chillies, garlic and onions in a large pestle and mortar or food mixer.
  2. Add a tablespoon of fermented beans (optional) and salt to taste.
Pastor Leng of Thung Na Noi Church, with his wife Aumphai, wearing Hmong tribal costumes

Pastor Leng of Thung Na Noi Church, with his wife Aumphai, wearing Hmong tribal costumes

Having a rubbish time at church

When Pastor Leng first came to lead Tung Na Noi Church in Chiang Kong district, it was seen as the Pastor’s role to do everything. ‘After a while, we had a big pile of rubbish every Sunday,’ says Pastor Leng. Pastor Leng decided to change all that and formed the church into teams to take responsibility for different activities, including rubbish collection.

The Mekong Minority Foundation supported the church with training and encouraged them to help the wider community, particularly those in need, with food, clothing and medicines. They also taught them the benefits of keeping their community and the local environment free of rubbish because here was no refuse collection in the community.

A photo of Pastor Leng smiling

Pastor Leng encourages his community to collect rubbish and bring it to church. 

‘We now encourage each family to collect rubbish,’ he says. ‘On Sunday, they bring plastic bottles and other rubbish to church. We store it in sacks and sell it. We gave the money we made to widows in the village.’

Pastor Leng has started many initiatives to support his church to reach out to the wider community including cultivating medicinal plants to treat people who are sick and setting up a food dryer to package goods such as bamboo and rattan to sell. They also organise Bible studies where people from many nations, including China, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, can come to learn about the skills and abilities God has given to all of us.

‘I want to see more changes in the village,’ he says. ‘I am trying to push for the church to be a centre that can help the community.’

A photo of Pastor Leng holding herbs

Pastor Leng encourages his church to generate income by growing herbs and selling goods at the market.

A photo of a street in Thailand

Revisit previous destinations

While you wait for your next destination, you can find more encouraging stories of transformation by taking a look back at all the other fantastic places we’ve visited with World of Difference here.

See destinations

Poverty destroys lives. It is not God's plan for the world. Yet through your prayers and your giving, you are supporting local churches and communities in Thailand and around the world to help end extreme poverty. Thank you.

©2024 All Rights Reserved. Registered Charity No.265464 (England and Wales) No.SC037624 (Scotland). Tearfund, 100 Church Road, Teddington, TW11 8QE 020 3906 3906 [email protected] Image Credit: Nipaphon Arthit/Tearfund

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