Billy and Kathleen Doerner

COUNTRY: Thailand
CITY: Chiang Mai
FOCUS: Education and Healthcare
PROJECT: Phonsawan Child Development Center
PEOPLE SERVED: 70 children
PROJECT GOAL: The Center provided basic needs to support poor migrant, tribal children while they attend a Thai public school.

Billy and his wife Kathleen joined MKLM in 1993 with their two daughters Sarah and Rosemary. The girls were aged four and under one at the time. Although Billy is originally from Oklahoma, the Doerners came to Maryknoll from Portland, OR. Billy has degrees from both Oklahoma State University and Oregon State University. Kathy and Billy and their family have lived in Thailand for their entire MKLM experience.

Billy and Kathleen lived and worked in the city of Chiang Mai. Their ministry -Phonsawan Child Development Center (PCDC)- addressed the basic needs of poor tribal migrant children. These children travelled with their parents into the city of Chiang Mai in search of work and a better life. The parents of these children were unskilled day laborers or hawkers of items such as flowers or trinkets in the night market. Their children were usually left home alone to play unsupervised until the parents return home. Others join their mothers or grandmothers selling flowers at night and others were begging or doing whatever they could to find money to help their families. They are mobile populations and this makes it very difficult for their children to attend school consistently.

The project provides basic needs to support poor children while they attend a Thai public school. PSDC provides food, lodging, education, school supplies and uniforms, school lunches, medical, and life skills development. The caregivers teach lessons and supervise homework. Currently Lahu, Lisu, Akha, Hmong, Kamu tribal children are served. There was an outreach team that visited the families of the children in the Center’s care. The goal was to create a partnership with the families of the children that were served.

Billy provided organizational and administrative skills to the team that directed the project. Kathleen served as a teacher and supervisor of the teaching team. She incorporated a new component into the children’s curriculum focusing on child protection. This ensured that teachers and students were better prepared to prevent sexual abuse of children.