The Beginnings

The story of the School for Life begins in Thailand and in Germany: 

Germany 1999

At 86, Prof. Zimmer’s mother learns that she has leukemia. Socially committed, she decides to deny treatment and let nature have its way. In the days leading up to her death, she organizes a ‘Concert for Peace’ for children in Kosovo in her hometown Lindau. When all is prepared, she passes away just days before the concert. About a thousand people attend the concert on the day of her funeral and a hundred musicians play music of all kinds. Half a million Baht (10,000 Euro) in donations is collected. An expert employed to allocate the donations in projects in Kosovo returns with the comment that too much money is already flowing into the country at the moment. 

Thailand 2000

Joy’s House, a “Boutique Homestay” (Lonely Planet) that is to become a role model of culture sensitive tourism in the following years, opens on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. Joy’s House receives international media coverage. People from many countries who wish to experience an authentic Thailand beyond the beaten paths of tourists, come to visit. Joy’s House is headed by Ms. Thaneen “Joy” Worrawittayakun, who, in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Juergen Zimmer of the Free University of Berlin, has developed and refined the concept. Joy’s Farm belongs to Joy’s House. Guests can go see the farm, spend the night there in bungalows, and enjoy nature. 

Thailand 2001

Khun Joy and Professor Zimmer accompany a German-Belgian filming crew, recording a documentary north of Chiang Mai. They come to the realization that AIDS has rampaged through the villages like the plague. Children are left behind and people are struggling to provide for them. Professor Zimmer proposes to his family to make use of the donations from Lindau here in northern Thailand. 

Thailand 2002

The village Pongkum is not far from the farm. The mayor suggests first creating an atmosphere of trust and participating in the development of the community before starting a project for AIDS orphans. Hence, guests of Joy’s House participate in charity events, donate money for schools, and help with the development of a recycling system. Orphans start arriving at Joy’s Farm. They attend the Pongkum village school. 

Thailand 2003

photo School for Life opens its doors in October as a ‘Home School’ under the umbrella of the Moo Baan Dek Children’s Village School. By now, the number of children has increased to sixty. The children live and learn at the farm. Even if AIDS orphans marked the beginning, by now others have joined: children whose parents have died or disappeared, and children, who have escaped situations of brutality and abuse. The School for Life secures their existence, acknowledges their right to bliss, psychosocially accompanies them, provides them with a new home, and wants to provide them with first-class education: “The best for the poorest”. 

Thailand 2005

Because of the Tsunami disaster, a second project is developed close to the affected coastal area: the Beluga School for Life in Na Nai, financially secured for ten years by a German business, Beluga Shipping GmbH. HRH Crown Princess Sirindhorn visits the School for Life in Chiang Mai. She likes it so much that she decides to stay twice as long as planned. 

Thailand 2006

Since May 2006 the School for Life is licensed as a Private Social Welfare School. The School for Life is now operating a Kindergarten, a Primary School (grade 1-6), and a Junior High School (grade 7-9) with an option to open a Senior High School (grade 10-12). A special study program for entrepreneurship was established at the Ubon Ratchathanee University, Faculty for Management Science, under the leadership of the Dean, Professor Dr. Apichai Puntasen. 

The school receives recognition as Private Social Welfare School. The carrier is the Foundation for Thailand Rural Reconstruction Movement under Royal Patronage (TRRM). The International Academy for Innovative Education, Psychology, and Economics at the Free University of Berlin under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Juergen Zimmer professionally accompanies the School for Life. The project survives through donations. Sponsors include individuals as well as businesses and small foundations such as the Shaul and Hilde Robinsohn Foundation. The School for Life has grown to include 140 children and therefore has become dependent on a greater number of sponsors. 

Thailand 2007

Thaneen "Joy" Worrawittayakun leaves the School for Life and develops a project for children with special needs, Children's Shelter Home. School for Life concentrates with the help of Dominique Leutwiler as General Manager and Rita Haberkorn as deputy of Prof. Zimmer on professional management. More Thai sponsors, first and foremost Siam Cement Foundation, support School for Life. 

Thailand 2009

The newly established School for Life Foundation is taking on the carriership of School for Life. Members of the Board are - besides others - Prof. Zimmer (President), Prof. Dr. Apichai Puntasen (formerly Dean of Ubon Ratchathanee University) and Chamnang Chanruang (Senior Legal Expert of Chiangmai Adminitrative Court). 

Germany 2009

The new School for Life Institute is established as part of the International Academy Berlin for Innovative Education, Psychology and Economy (INA gGmbH).