I'm Richard, and in early 2020, I came to Thailand intending to travel around Asia, working remotely to maintain my vacation-rental business in the USA. Very soon, Covid happened, my flight to Vietnam was canceled, and I ended up being "stuck" in Thailand. There are far worse places.
In the process, I met a family of 6 (a mother and two daughters; one with two daughters herself and the other with one son) and ended up sitting out Covid wave one in rural Si Sa Ket province, just a few kilometers from the Cambodian border.
While the small village was wonderful and the people gracious, the personal living situation of this family was unacceptable. I had some money, and I figured that Covid would go away and my business would come back, so I built a house for them using village labor and sourcing all materials myself since I grew up around home construction in the USA. It's all paid for. There is no loan or mortgage. I have no claim to any part of it. It's built of concrete, steel, and tile. It will last forever.
Once the house was complete and blessed by the local temple, I decided they needed a car and a business. Thailand is very rainy for about half the year, and it pours. Having only a motorbike and running a business is impossible. So I financed a car with the down payment and paid the monthly payments. I also financed a small Thai restaurant in a small town just 5 kilometers away.
That was going very well. Then Covid wave number two came in early 2021, and nobody went out to eat anymore. A bust.
Another thing is that the two girls—"Chili" and "Wasabi"—now 13 and 11 (I chose that picture on top of them having their first foreign food in their lives—Italian—which took a bit of encouragement) were not getting an excellent education in the village school 500 meters down the road, so we found them a better school that's sort of semi-private but costs about $1,000 per year per child. A big feature is that the school has a good English teacher who is a native speaker.
Here we are about a year later, and the older sister started on her dream to have a clothing store for young women. Everything a young woman wants to help her feel pretty and noticed. She does it by buying wholesale and selling in outdoor markets. It's not a very viable and stable business with inclement weather. Plus, it's not the typical place young women prefer to shop in. The place I have an option to lease that expires in a month is an indoor clothing boutique for young women in a university district.
Here's where I get to the money problem. My business has not come back as it was. It started back up again some months ago but is at less than 25% of what it was. I had zero revenue from February 2020 through October 2021, about 18 months making zero, only draining savings. So, without that prospect of recovery I've simply run too low on resources to finish the job I started, to bring this family to financial self-sufficiency in "teach a man to fish style."
Here's a rough breakdown of esimated costs:
1. Lease for 1 year: $10,000
2. Furnishings (racks, shelves, etc.): $5,000
3. Initial inventory (clothes, shoes, handbags, unmentionables, accessories): $5,000
4. Decore, lighting, supplies, technicians and workers: $5,000
Any excess proceeds will go towards paying down or paying off the car loan and the continued education of the children.
Since Thailand is not one of the GoFundMe supported countries where funds can be transferred directly, the funds have to come to me and then I have to disperse them (this is per GoFundMe guidelines). Here's how that works.
1. The funds come to me in a separate bank account at USAA in San Antonio, TX so that every transfer out is directly for this project alone.
2. I transfer funds to Evolve Bank & Trust in NYC.
3. Evolve has a unique arrangement to transfer funds to my Bangkok Bank account in seconds, tiny fee (like $5 per $1,000).
4. I will maintain a spreadsheet to account for all of those transfers.
5. Most funds I will pay directly to the service providers, retaining all receipts and invoices.
6. I will update the status and progress regularly.