History of Rejoice
Rejoice Charity is a grass roots charity project based in Chiang Mai province, Northern Thailand, near the foot of the famous Doi Suthep Mountain and temple. We were founded on January 11, 1998 and have been fully operational since. We have full-time staff and a number of part-time local and foreign volunteers.
Our co-founders were cousins, Derek (Steve) Hallam and Gareth Lavell; both former nurses and businessmen from the United Kingdom,. Both of them left their nursing profession and set-up a security company. They became wealthy and were able to travel the world, but it was a trip to India that changed their lives. While on holiday in India, they were sipping champagne in their 5-star hotel, when a look out from their hotel room to the streets below changed the course of their lives forever.
They saw real poverty for the first time, children were scavenging for food in the garbage dumps. They were so moved they gave up their business and sold their houses, intending to move to India to do outreach work. However, fate intervened. It was election time in India and the British Foreign Office advised them to choose another country. They settled for Thailand as they had been there before and felt it was a safe country to settle in. When their financial resources were depleted, they had to depend solely on the generosity of donors. For them, it is a mission based on love.
Initially they set up three successful Aids hospices in the capital, Bangkok, including the first slum-based community hospice in the country. After five years of operating the hospices and training personnel, they turned the centres' management over to Thai employees. Seeing an urgent need to support those affected by HIV/Aids in the Chiang Mai area, Derek and Gareth, assisted by Lampoo, a senior staff member, moved to Northern Thailand to set up the charity that has since become Rejoice.
In 2004, a group of supporters, together with Derek and Gareth, established the Rejoice Foundation UK, a British-registered charity, dedicated to the same ideals.
Rejoice's goal is to provide a much-needed medical and social support system to poor, ill and underprivileged people living in Chiang Mai's villages and other peripheral communities throughout the province. Our care programme addresses the diverse array of basic medical and social needs demonstrated by the men, women and children infected with, or affected by, HIV.
By providing access to basic health care in the village communities, we also aim to improve health standards through medical services, education and skills transfer.
We support people living with HIV to continue to work to provide for their family, and help orphaned children return to school to receive the education they need and deserve in an environment of support, acceptance and encouragement. And we seek to help people break out of the vicious circle of poverty associated with this disease.
Gareth Lavell has left Rejoice in 2008 and sadly Steve Hallam passed away in 2010 after suffering from congestive heart failure
Steve's last wish was for Rejoice to continue helping the rural poor of Chiang Mai province in a similar fashion. This has not been so easy without Steves' vast experience. However, with a seriously reduced staff but with the help of volunteers Rejoice endeavours to continue in the same manner as Steve would have liked.
At the time of Steve Hallam’s death in 2010 it was very doubtful Rejoice would survive. However, thanks to the experience and enthusiasm of Gee and Arm, the 2 remaining staff, and the support of SDL, BCTFN, FRS (Friends of Rejoice Singapore) and other individual donors, Rejoice did survive and has been slowly evolving ever since. By working together with volunteer hospital health care workers, themselves HIV +ve, Rejoice has been able to reach out to the more remote, ethnically diverse communities especially close to the Myanmar border. Together with the health care workers, special meetings (get togethers) are held between people living with HIV; people from various ethnic communities meet each other for the first time and realise they are not alone in fighting HIV; community meetings aimed especially at youth; meetings in schools explaining reproductive health etc.
At the outset it was realised that a simple accounting system was necessary to quantify and store data from these increased activities. The files below show how we have computerised the increasing amount of data.
• The master file shows the Monthly Expenses for the previous 4 years in one small file.
• The clinics file shows the medicines, formula milk and provisions for both ‘Core clinics ‘and ‘Home Care’ clinics for a given month.
• The School Scholarship children are all in one database file. Each child is hyper-linked to his/her individual PDF file
The latest Reports and Previous Newsletters can be accessed in 'The Archives' section or in the "Footer" section, where there are also links to photo albums, at the bottom of each page.