“Cultivating character, cultural pride and creativity.”
Who we are
The Ayui Foundation was established and legally registered in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand, as a non-religious, non-profit organization in 2007 by an Australian-Thai woman who has been working with the Akha hilltribe since 1998. The Ayui Foundation provides a hostel and educational support for poor, vulnerable, at-risk, ethnic Akha hilltribe teenagers, promoting the importance of education. We support both boys and girls of any religion (Buddhist, Christian and traditional animism), aged 10 and older. They can live with us as long as they are studying, and we focus on providing practical support, educational opportunities and a safe, warm and loving environment for Akha adolescents. Aside from putting them through school, we focus on preserving their Akha culture by practicing their traditional embroidery, funding the cost of getting a traditional Akha dress made, and singing and dancing to Akha songs. Ayui (pronounced ‘a-yeu’) is an Akha word meaning ‘older sister’ and ‘Baan Ayui’ means ‘our older sister’s house’. The hostel is based on the concept of a nurturing and understanding older sister (such as the housemother and the Director) providing guidance and support on all levels. Baan Ayui supports teenagers who come from separated or poor families who have little or no means of support, or who come from mountain villages far from schools, and gives them skills to help them become confident young adults in their villages and in Thai society while remaining proud of their hilltribe culture.
Situated on the outskirts of Chiang Rai town, our hostel is located in the peaceful and semi-rural Baan Mai community, populated by a mix of Thai lowland and hilltribe people. It is walking distance from the local market, and not far from the Maekok River and the Sahasart Suksa School that the children attend. The school is Chiang Rai’s first and largest school established for hilltribe children, where the youth also have cultural classes and wear traditional hilltribe dress to school every Friday. Baan Ayui is run on a day-to-day basis by a married Akha housemother and father. They live at the hostel and are responsible for the practical needs of our young people and organisation of the household. They are supported closely through the hands-on involvement and management from Ayui’s Director. The most important aspect of this model is that the young Akha people are in an environment with strong Akha role models and their own culture, beliefs and traditions are being celebrated. We also have an open door policy for parents/guardians to come and visit the children at any time, and we organize activities, such as annual clothes donations, so the children can go up to Akha villages, and enjoy outdoor activities like fishing (the hilltribe way). The children have daily chores and weekly activities include: discussion groups on topics related to hilltribes and teens; hostel meetings; sports; guitar, sewing, art and English lessons - the last few supported by various volunteers from overseas. The hostel is run like a large family that learns from and supports each other. In the holidays many of our young people will return to their villages to ensure that they are maintaining family and cultural links while still being able to obtain an education with the Foundation.