Northern Thailand

The indigenous Lua hill people, located in one of Thailand’s extreme rural Northern provinces surrounded by the mountainous border of Laos and nestled near Doi Phu Kha National Park, are the focus for SDRF’s work based near the Bo Klua District. With subsistence farming of corn and rice as the norm, there is little infrastructure to support the oft-forgotten and marginalized population leaving it deprived of educational, nutritional, and medical resources as people live on less than $2.00 a day. There is also an element of spiritual impoverishment as the people have primarily an animistic heritage which is overlaid with Buddhism.

The tropical rain forest environment has also suffered with Swidden agriculture (slash and burn). Ineffective agricultural methods have negatively impacted the environment with substantial soil erosion. With very few resources and opportunities within the local context, families feel enormous pressures to send their youth to large urban centers in the hope acquiring those resources. However, with limited education, at risk youth languish in sweat shops and the sex industry.

SDRF’s Role in Nan

With a mandate to provide hope and empower people with life-changing choices, a Thai non-profit organization called the Sustainable Development Research Foundation (SDRF), officially approved by the Thai government, was invited into the Nan province in 2003. SDRF works through major programs in agriculture, education, public health, and leadership formation for area villages.

Jim Gustafson with President Nujon
and Director Krujon (far left)

The Center for Sustainable Development's meeting facility in Nan province

SDRF’s agricultural vision is to enable secure food resources for the remotest of the remote hill people of the Nan province. SDRF has introduced experimental rice crops with a higher yield than what is normally produced by local farmers. In addition, rice banks have been established to help tide farmers over in times of need. Programs such as Sloping Agriculture Land Technology (SALT) have been introduced to address soil erosion problems and reforestation challenges.
A heartier breed of poultry, the Chinese black chicken, has been made available to the local population. Also under experimentation is the breeding of wild pigs, which are prevalent in the region, for the preservation of crops and domestication purposes.


The purpose of SDRF’s educational efforts in Nan Province is to provide children paths to higher education, thus providing more life-changing choices. Prior to 2009 the local population did not have access to education beyond the 6th grade. In conjunction with Nan’s Department of Education, SDRF established a middle school equipped with a computer lab, library, and dormitories. The crown princess, a dedicated enabler of at risk communities in Thailand, graciously consented to dedicate the facility.

Global Development Network/Sustainable Development Research Foundation partnership recently launched a new quality education initiative designed to impact positively the marginalized youth of Baw Klua district in the Nan province of Thailand. Youth in this mountainous remote area are deprived of good educational resources and cannot compete with youth from other areas of the country for the ongoing benefits of education beyond the 9th grade. The Tutorial Learning Center (TLC) has been established on the site of SDRF’s Center for Sustainable Development and is designed to provide the youth a tutorial learning system that will enable them to compete successfully for ongoing study through the end of high school within and beyond the Baw Klua district. TLC works with existing educational structures in the district by augmenting course offerings such as computer literacy and English acquisition. In addition, TLC will also focus on helping the youth to make applications to and be accepted by universities and technological schools beyond the Baw Klua area following their completion of high school.

To overcome the impediments of distance and lack of adequate housing, TLC provides dormitories and proper supervision of youth at the Center for Sustainable Development. Applications have been pouring and 21 students have enrolled and will occupy the first dorms. SDRF hopes that TLC will eventually have the capacity to handle 100 students. Initially, TLC students will be attending the local high school, Sawa Tai school.

Working on CSD Farm project Raising crickets Food preparation
TLC Dorm out of indigenous materials Girls Dormitory After school classes

TLC students will also have exposure to God’s Word. GDN and SDRF invite individuals and church teams to come and hold English camps at the Center for Sustainable Development. Inquiries for English camps may be addressed to David Stockamp at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Scholarships are needed for these students. $35.00 per month will ensure a student with housing, nutrition, and resources. To make a contribution toward scholarships please click on the Donate Tab


Public Health
SDRF, in partnership with the Thai Department of Public Health, is working to address the acute medical needs of the people. The Health Department has given three mandates to SDRF: 1) Research ways to improve the health of women and children. 2) Evaluate the nutritional needs of the population and research resources such as chickens, pigs, and cow’s milk. 3) Research parasitical challenges such as round and tape worm and other forms of intestinal parasites.
With the help of the Public Health Department, SDRF appointed Dr. Bob Shim as medical director for SDRF’s work in the Nan province. Dr. Shim, a Covenant missionary, is conducting research and facilitates teams of medical professionals coming from a number of church groups from the US. The teams’ interaction with local villagers has provided a wealth of research information which is used to improve the general health of the area.

Leadership Formation
SDRF promotes contextualized leadership formation and church planting for local churches in sub-ethnic communities through the Center for Applied Ministry (CAM) by providing resources for spiritual growth in the form of fellowship and training. CAM, a member of the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand (EFT), serves as an instrument by which core cultural values are transformed as people experience the grace of God.

Under the auspices of SDRF, CAM is the glue that holds the area churches together thus facilitating a consistent and dynamic message of God’s love to the community at large. SDRF’s Center for Sustainable Development in the Bok Klua District will eventually have meeting and dormitory facilities that will further enhance strategic leadership formation.

SDRF-Nan is currently on Phase One of its development of the Bok Klua Center for Sustainable Development. Staff housing has been built and an office with four staff guest rooms has also been completed.

Future projects include:

  • Prep School construction $87,000
  • 20 Computers for the lab $11,000
  • Air conditioning system $ 5,000
  • Access road improvements $15,000
  • Water system refinements $ 5,000
  • SALT (sloping agriculture) $ 6,000
  • Experimental Corn and Rice $ 3,600
  • Livestock (wild pigs, Black chickens, goats) $ 4,500
  • Rice bins $ 4,500

Grants and contributions projects may be forwarded on behalf of SDRF through Global Development Network (GDN):

Global Development Network Corporation
C/o Mr. Chuck Gietzel
360 W. Washington Ave. #402
Madison, WI 53703

Contributions are tax deductible. Please make a notation for which project you wish to support in the memo section of your contribution. Thank you!