Thailand is a constitutional monarchy. The Prime Minister is the head of government and a hereditary monarch is head of state.
Thailand experienced rapid economic growth between 1985 and 1996, and is a newly industrialized country and a major exporter. Tourism contributes significantly to the Thai economy. The Andaman Sea is regarded as Thailand's most precious natural resource as it hosts the most popular and luxurious resorts in Asia. Prostitution and sex tourism flourish.
September 2006 to July 2011 was a period of political insecurity in Thailand, involving various types of coup, civilian protests, and military and civilian deaths.
Thailand enjoys a high level of literacy. Thai women were among the first in Asia granted the right to vote, in 1932. However, they are still under-represented in Thai politics and are subject to hiring discrimination and gender inequality in relation to wages. Some women in Thailand become victims of spousal rape, human trafficking, prostitution, and other forms of domestic abuse.
In 1961 the Legionaries of Holy Redeemer Church in Bangkok requested the Sisters of the Good Shepherd to come to Thailand. The Sisters arrived in Bangkok on 5 February 1965. Soon they developed a Good Shepherd Home for girls and women, which included education and skills training programmes.
Today the sisters run a Good Shepherd Training Center/Home for disadvantaged women, girls and children some of whom are from the neighbouring countries of the Mekong region. The training center provides education, skills training and scholarships. They also have a temporary shelter for pregnant mothers and mothers in abusive relationship and have nowhere to go. Through the Fatima self help center the women and girls are able to learn and earn. Recently they have been asked by the UNHCR to extend their services to refugee people.
In 1980 a group of sisters moved to Nongkhai, NE Thailand to begin a village development programme. Utilizing the weaving skills of the women, they set up a skills training programme, incorporating a residential facility for people living with HIV/AIDS.
In 1989 sisters moved to Pattaya, a red light district. They developed the Fountain of Life Women’s Centre and Children’s centre to support and provide education and skills training for socially disadvantaged women, girls and children especially those exploited by the tourism industry, prostitution and trafficking.
In 1996 the sisters started a youth centre in Chiang Rai in the North of Thailand for hill tribe women girls and children who are at risk of being trafficked. Most of the hill tribe peoples are undocumented migrants who inhabit the Thai-Burma-Laos triangle border. The sisters assist them in getting their documentation, provide primary and secondary level education through the Government Adult Education Program, skills training, scholarships, health education and outreach services.
In 2006 the sisters started work in Phuket a tourist area in the South of Thailand. Currently there is the “Home of Hope” a temporary shelter for pregnant mothers, teenage mothers and students, pregnant migrant workers from the Mekong region, and pregnant mothers in abusive relations and have nowhere to go to. They also run a skills training centre for women and girls exploited by the tourism industry.
Recognizing the lack of educational facilities for large groups of migrant Burmese as well as Thai families, in 2010 Sister Lakana began to gather resources to assist them. After much fundraising and with the assistance of some business contacts, Sr Lakana was able to build a suitable school that provides education to up to 150 Burmese and Thai students. The students receive English, Thai and Burmese language lessons and the school works closely with the Thai Ministry of Education so that students are able to be integrated into Thai schools. The school is also working towards accreditation with the Burmese authorities so that graduates can have their qualifications recognised in Burma and can attend Burmese universities. In 2015, Sr Apinya joined Sr Lakana to assist with running the school. They are supported by an English expat community and a number of volunteers, many who volunteer to work with the service as teachers for months at a time.
In 2013 the Sisters were asked to run the Wild Flower Home (WFH) Project in Chiengmai.