In March of 2015, Haije Velasco and Gina Plata-Nino had lived and worked in Southeast Asia for nearly a year. They had tasted the sweetness of being invited in with warm, widespread arms and unexpected friendship. They had seen the bitterness of empty futures and an utter lack of health awareness in the country. And together, they and the Southeast Asian friends had also seen earnest, well-meaning volunteers from developed countries come, help, and leave, come, help, and leave, year after year, in a bittersweet cycle.

There seemed to be plenty of volunteers, but a lack of anything sustainable. Haije and Gina’s time in Southeast Asia was nearly up, but their time wouldn’t be reduced to an experience felt only by photos and perhaps a visit now and again.

This is how the seed was planted.

In the months that followed, this seed of hope turned into an earnest desire, and an earnest desire budded into a real possibility with the involvement of others—Jonathan Nino, Kay Oh, and Sarah Jung—who shared the same passion and provided the expertise necessary to take part in this endeavor. Since then, Kay and Sarah stepped down from being Board of Directors members though still fully supportive of the mission and vision of Oon Jai. In their place, Tony Milam and Tony Dennis stepped in.

So this is where we stand now:

Oon Jai Foundation, an organization committed to serving the people of Southeast Asia via sustainable methods built on three platforms: health, education, and farming all towards a healthy, active, and an abundant life.

It has really been something, like the natural unfolding of a tremendous and exciting plan that had been waiting in the wings for this time and this group of like-minded people. We are looking forward to continuing this endeavour, to ultimately help change the landscape of health awareness and quality of life in the communities we serve.

“Man in his efforts to help the poor would do well to think in terms of helping them to help themselves. The poor should be taught to employ such resources as they themselves possess. Unless this is done, charity may pauperize and do more harm than good.” EGW