Our Board of Directors
President: Robert Carpenter
Back in the mid 90’s my wife and I decided to sponsor a young girl in Thailand. Through some Australian friends of ours we heard about this woman named Siami. She was from Mizoram, India. Her village was Christian and she graduated from the Theological College and began teaching. She went to Thailand and began to save the young girls in the mountain villages from being sold into the sex industry in the large cities and to preserve their Hill tribe culture. My Australian friends met her in the Northern Mountains of Thailand while they were serving with YOUTH WITH A MISSION. A mission org. that serves around the world. After they heard her story, they decided to help her by telling her story back here in the States. It started off small, like most great ideas, with just a few girls. My wife and I have two girls and felt this would be a worthy cause. We prayed for them and wrote to them. It was amazing to hear back from them and to get pictures. We were updated regularly and felt a connection with this girl. After 2 to 3 years we were asked if we would like to join a team, in 1997, that was going over to the center, led by our Aussie friends. I asked if we would then be considered MISSIONARIES. Because I didn’t want to sell all our possessions and live in the dirt for the rest of our lives down by a rice paddy. My wife thought we should go. I thought she was nuts.
All I could think about was standing in the middle of nowhere trying to teach people the Bible in a language I knew about 3 words in. It was very uncomfortable feeling, especially since I was a new Christian. But looking back at my Christian walk I remembered that when I said yes to God, I was rewarded. Not only with the satisfaction of helping those less fortunate than us, but the blessings in our daily lives. Then I learned we were going to build swings for the kids. That sealed it. I could build something and my wife could be the “missionary.” Well we went and my life hasn’t been the same. I found that I had a heart for Thailand and fell in love with the people. I had never spent so much time with such content people. No running water, no electricity, food always a concern, but a deep love of the lord. We had a few interpreters, and many spoke English. The center now had about 40 kids and not just girls. When the villagers saw the advantages, some sent the boys also. Over there, boys are worth more to the family because they can help with the crops and animals. So this was a big step forward for the center. I would bet to say we were all changed on the trip. My wife and I were able to find our girls house about 5 miles from the center and went for a visit. Our girl, Wanida was about 13 and her family lived in a typical house off the ground over their animals. It was a wonderful visit. We spent about an hour. At the end of our visit the father wanted to ask me a question. He thanked me for supporting his daughter, but wanted to know what would happened if we couldn’t support her any more. None of his three kids had ever gone to school. Nor had he. He was just being a concerned father. We promised him, that as long as she stayed in school, we would support her. He seemed satisfied with that and we said our goodbyes. He was a farmer and you could tell he worked hard. He and his wife looked 10 yrs older than they were.
Here we are 10 years later. The center is completely built out and there are two satellite centers now. My wife and I now support 5 kids plus our own. We have been greatly blessed. I have been over there 5 times now and have seen incredible changes. Roads, electricity, sanitation and many more visitors now that it is accessible. I will continue to go over and be blessed by all the experiences. I‘ve taken my girls since they were 11. It’s worth it just to be able to spend one on one time with my kids in a place were they realize how fortunate they are and to spend time with great Christian friends who don’t have all the latest stuff, and don’t care to. As for our oldest student, Wanida, My daughter and I had the privilege of going to her graduation from the university of Chiang Mai in April. She is a teacher and teaches at the school next to her village. Both her brothers are in college and the parents look younger than they did 10 years ago. They are now Christians and help out at the center.
My life will never be the same. Thank God. Bob Carpenter
Vice President: Dave Carpenter
Dave's first visit to Thailand in 2006 caused him to fall in love with the Karen culture and Handclasp mission. He has led many groups to Thailand since then and has completed many projects in the villages to support the Karen culture. He became a Director of the Board and now is the Vice President of Handclasp. He now resides in Nashville Tennessee and continues to visit as often as possible to further the Handclasp Mission working with the needy children, families and communities of the Karen HillTribes in Northern Thailand, giving them hope for a better future.
Treasurer: Yvonne Fisher
Yvonne was introduced to Handclasp by fellow Church Sacristans, Dave and Teri Carpenter. She participated in a group trip to Musikee in 2017/2018 where she got to meet the students, the Thailand team and work on several local projects. She began volunteering for Handclasp in the Fall of 2018 and has now stepped into the role of Treasurer. Yvonne has an MBA from Loyola Marymount University and after 22+ years, retired from the corporate world to accept a position with St. Lawrence Martyr Catholic Church managing Special Projects.
Secretary: Darcie Thornblad
Darcie has been a long-time supporter of HRDC enjoying the privilege of sponsorship to a few children of the sponsorship program. Visiting the Musikee center with her husband and son some years ago was a highlight and blessing! Since she worked in dentistry as an assistant for approximately 30+ years she was able to be used to teach some dental hygiene skills with the children in remote villages they visited in Thailand. In addition to dental assisting, she just retired from serving as Children’s ministry director at her long-time church family of Trinity Lutheran San Pedro which was a wonderful experience.
Director: Joe Dragotto
Director: Joe Dragotto
Retired Director: Charles "Gordy" Rich
Gordy grew up in the Midwest and attended college graduating with majors in business and finance. He spent most of his time involved in administration and finance with Fortune 500 companies before moving to the west coast to help start up an IT company. He finished his working career with a Fraternal Benefit Society organization lasting 16 years. He has been involved over the last 15 years with Handclasp volunteering in the areas of administration. It has been a blessing to see sponsors step forward to support students so that not only God's word, but education can help further their abilities.
Don and Kay Fox
Contact Kay - Click Here
Our Thailand Team
Dr. Zothansaimi "Siami" Raltel
Zothansiami (Siami) Ralte was born on the Northeast India state of Mizoram. She was raised in a Christian family, graduated from college and came to Thailand as a teacher.
After a year in the city of Chiangmai, she moved to the Karen tribal village of Ban Nong Chet Nua (Musekee). In 1989, she married Soradaet Manahmigaebthong, a Karen native who also teaches at the Friendship School.
Their first daughter, Sirikanya, was born September 25, 1992. Their son, Sitakan, was born in 1997 and Neekamoi, an orphan, was accepted into Siami's family, was also born in 1997.
Siami has a gift of administration which she has used to gain the trust of the local people and the respect of authorities at all levels in Thailand.
Siami is blessed when she sees each boy and girl establishing a progressive path from desperate poverty to a self supporting, satisfied adult.
Manages the correspondence between the children and their Sponsors.
Sawitri's Assistant. Manages the correspondence between the children and the Staff.
Drives the children to school and helps with gardening.
Guardian at the Hostel to oversee the children at the center.
Oversees children at Hwuihnamsong
Teaches children at Chaemluang School and visits the children at the village. Gives tuition at the HRDC Hostel. He was supported by Handclasp while in College. He completed College from Teachers University and came back to help our ministry in 2020.
Teaches at Hwuihpooling school and helps oversee the children at School Hostel. He was supported by Handclasp many years ago, and has now come back to help teach at Hwuihpooling Government School and helps supervise our sponsored children at school.
Assists with the correspondence between the staff and the children.
Chansee (Sutee Mo)
In charge of the children cooking.
Sirikanya & Noi
Sirikanya tutors the children and helps to get them organized for the activities.
Noi is a Mechanic and Electrician and is a Driver when needed.
Sae Ae Po
Helps at the Store.
Helps at the Store.
Our Mechanic who takes care of the machines, pumps and other equipment as needed at the center.
Helps at the Store.
Helps with cooking when visitors are present.
Helps at the Store.
The Outreach Team:
Koh Ae - Evangelist
Noochae - Evangelist
Theedee - Evangelist
Cho Ae - Evangelist
Prathip - Volunteer teaching Music at HRDC Hostel
Taloo - Visits Churches in Mae Hongson Province
Soradaet - Instructor Trainer