Bouncing back from Covid and into Brighter Futures for our Kids

15 Apr 2024

2023 - Renewal and Resilience

2023 was a year of significant renewal for Hands Across the Water. As we emerged from the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw a full return to in-person events and bike rides fostering a renewed sense of community and connection.

While global economic uncertainties impacted corporate and individual giving and event participation, we are proud to report a fundraising total of $1.6 million for the year. This represents a strong recovery, exceeding both 2022's $1.2 million and 2021's $1 million – still great results during uncertain times.

With a healthy balance sheet and a new business model, Hands is in a very strong position going into 2024.

2023 Achievements 

• The registration of Hands Experiences Thailand (HET) as a commercial entity to support the operations of Hands Thailand which is now a registered charity in Thailand.  

• The appointment of a General Manager for Hands Experiences Thailand further strengthening our leadership and operational capacity. 

• The appointment of a Country Director (Thailand) and Operations Manager (Australia) to our team to support the expansion of Hands both in Australia and Thailand.

• We celebrated the graduation of 6 students from university, a testament to our commitment to supporting them in achieving their educational goals.

• We welcomed back former students – Bank and Champ – through recruitment initiatives with Hands Experiences Thailand. 

• Provided funding for the professional development of our Directors – Pla and Game – who are currently studying their MBA and progressing towards a PhD respectively.

2024 – New Horizons, Bigger Impact

As we head into our 19th year in operation, Hands is entering a new era of fundraising and impact. With a diverse new team spanning Australia, Thailand, and the Philippines and the relentless pursuit of creating a bigger impact for the children we support, Hands is poised to succeed in 2024 and beyond.

Our FY25 plans outline our team’s commitment to pushing boundaries and achieving exceptional results, leveraging our almost 20-year history to drive income generation, brand awareness, and new audiences both in Australia and across Thailand.

Throughout 2024, we aim to reach new audiences and generate income through special events, fundraising initiatives, and impactful storytelling. Our ultimate goal is to ensure the story of Hands continues to live on beyond a mere moment in history, and that we continue to receive support from across borders for our kids. Over the past 19 years, Hands has helped more than 1,000 children access a brighter future, and we don’t plan on stopping once we reach our 20th anniversary milestone.

A large focus for this year will be Peter’s Run to Remember. We have set the goal of raising $1 million through this campaign, which reflects the dedication and potential that we see in our growing network of supporters. The team are actively forging new partnerships and cultivating valuable connections to expand our reach and unlock new opportunities for business and charity growth.

The enthusiasm for our signature bike rides is a testament to the growing Hands Across the Water community and the strong relationships with our corporate clients. With rides selling out well into 2025, we're already generating significant momentum for our fundraising goals ($1.4 million alone from our charity bike rides). We will continue to build on these into 2026 and identify opportunities to grow the portfolio of rides that we offer in Australia and Thailand.

We remain committed to building a sustainable future for Hands and the children that we support. We continue to develop a sustainable business model with the creation of Hands Experiences Thailand that fosters local growth, supports the Thai Foundation initiatives, and reduces the reliance upon Australian fundraising. The goal is to become a self-sufficient charity in Thailand, ensuring long term support of the children, regardless of external factors.

We recognise the importance of a strong team and strategic marketing efforts to deliver on our business objectives. Our investment in these areas will allow us to operate more efficiently, amplify our message, and reach new audiences. The work we do in 2024 is crucial for setting Hands to be sustainable and successful beyond the 20th Anniversary.

2025 and Beyond

Our mission at Hands remains unchanged. We remain committed to building brighter futures and a life of choice for children in Thailand by standing by the following:

Rescue and Nurture – providing safe and loving homes for children in need, ensuring their necessities are met with compassion and care. 

Ignite Potential – facilitating access to high-quality education, tailoring opportunities to individual aspirations, and creating pathways that lead to employment opportunities. 

Empower Futures – equiping children with the skills and resources that they need to break the cycle of dependence, achieve financial independence, and contribute meaningfully to their communities. 

With this being the driving force behind all that we do at Hands, we are excited to share an insight into our future plans for building sustainable income streams and employment pathways for those who are in our care today and tomorrow. 

Hospitality Training Centre 

Our Founder, Peter Baines, had a long-term vision to transform the underutilised Baan Nam Khem into a hospitality training centre. The centre would serve hotels in the Khao Lak area and provide training programs for our kids and the broader community that would lead to employment. The philosophy, adopted after learning about Bill Strickland’s programs in the USA, was to create a training program built by the hotels for the hotels. This model has been well received by our hotel partners in Thailand, and we are excited to welcome our first students as we bring this concept to life. 

Digital Learning Centre 

In today's rapidly evolving technological landscape, digital skills are in high demand as employers seek to add value to their business models. The Digital Learning Centre at Baan Home Hug will provide opportunities for students and individuals in the area to learn the skills necessary to run their own micro-businesses. The training will equip students with the skills to become web developers, photo editors, and community managers, similar to freelancers in more developed areas. By training people in remote areas like Yasothon, we can create employment opportunities within communities while allowing individuals to remain with their families and continue farming. This is especially important for those who require life-long medical support, as it allows them to work and stay in their home community.

Visitors Centre at BTN

Baan Tharn Namchai (BTN) has been a popular destination for visitors and sponsors for years due to its location just outside of Khao Lak. BTN Director, Game has been working with Peter on some ideas to create a safe environment for the children while also sharing the story of Hands and encouraging support. The Visitors Centre at BTN will be a museum that honours the Hands, BTN, and Khun Rotjana story. Visitors who want to learn more about life in one of our homes can visit the centre without having to enter the children's actual home. They can go on to support financially through the craft shop, coffee shop, and merchandise sales. With the protection of children at our core, this initiative benefits everyone involved.  

Agriculture Centre

The Baan Dok Dang Agriculture Centre is set to become a hub for creating an education facility for our children, job opportunities in Thailand's agriculture sector, while promoting sustainable income. Game has been collaborating with the government to finalise plans for securing this land, which is an old and unused school that has been donated to support BTN. The centre will offer children the opportunity to learn about agriculture, one of Thailand's largest industries, and eventually establish their own businesses and farm. 

Through dedication and a pipeline of inspiring projects, we're expanding opportunities on the ground, one step at a time. It will be a team effort, with our crew in Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand collaborating to make magic happen. We can’t do any of this without our supporters, our riders, our donors, and our corporate partners. Huge special mention to our long-standing partner NARTA who has remained by our side since 2007. This is all about building brighter futures for our kids, and we can't wait to share the progress with you.

With love, gratitude, and excitement,

Claire Baines

CEO Hands Across the Water