Dawn breaks over the dense, green mountains in the north of Thailand, a picture of peace and beauty. The new day casts a glow over the rice fields below. This is the world that 20-year-old Aujchara is blessed to wake up to every day.

Living in a small village in Mae Cham District in the Chiang Mia Province, Aujchara has the joy of being surrounded by the natural splendour and serenity of God’s creation—a beauty that she loves to capture through the lens of her camera.

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But Aujchara’s story is not just one of glorious landscapes and peaceful moments; it’s a story of passion, dedication and the transformative power of having an education and the support of her community.

Like parents the world over, Aujchara’s dreamt of a stable and secure future for their oldest daughter. In Thailand, this future can look like a career in government as an officer or administrator, largely because these types of roles bring stability, steady income and respect from others in their community. However, Aujchara saw her future panning out differently to the hopes of her parents. She saw her future through the viewfinder on her camera, where every click captured her love for photography.

It took some time for Aujchara to realise her passion. Her early years as a small child in a rural village in Thailand were simple and filled with joy. She was surrounded by a strong community. Aujchara was fortunate to attend school as well as participate in activities at her local Compassion centre from the age of 6.

The turning point came for Aujchara when, during high school, she was introduced to a photography workshop at her Compassion centre, which ignited a spark in her. The joy she felt during that class was indescribable. It was evident to Aujchara and to her teachers that she had found her passion in life.

The Compassion centre played a pivotal role in nurturing Aujchara’s newfound love of photography. They gave her opportunities to practise her craft, allowing her to take photos at several of the centre’s events. Although the camera she used wasn’t particularly modern or high-end, it was enough to help her develop her skills and give momentum to her enthusiasm.

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However, despite her skill, Aujchara faced a significant challenge. As the firstborn in her family, there was an expectation that she pursue a more stable and viable career. This expectation weighed on her, and at the end of high school, she was faced with a decision: should she pursue her passion, or honour her parents’ wishes.

During this challenging time, the Compassion centre became a safe place for Aujchara. As she deliberated over her future, the centre staff were her constant support. Surrounded by encouraging teachers and friends, and with the reminder of God’s role in her life and story, Aujchara found the strength to navigate her conflicting feelings. The Compassion centre leaders guided her through prayer, wisdom and encouraging words which helped her make a decision that balanced both her passion and her responsibilities.

“The only way for me to overcome such a hard time was to be surrounded by positive people—people who were always willing to pray for me and encourage me,” says Aujchara.

Aujchara chose to study Public Administration to honour her parents and help set her up for a strong future. But she did not abandon her love for photography, continuing to pursue it in her spare time.

Aujchara’s father, recognising her desire to pursue her love of photography, made a commitment to his daughter that if she were to pursue her studies and take care of her responsibilities, he would support her dream. Upon seeing her dedication, he diligently saved enough money to buy her a second-hand camera. What a special moment! This act of love and support from her father was a significant step for their relationship and allowed Aujchara to continue to see the world through her unique perspective: via the lens.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” —Ephesians 6:1-3 (NIV)

Today, Aujchara is a second-year university student. While her studies may be demanding, she finds freedom and happiness in photography whenever she can. Every time she ventures out with her camera, it helps her connect with others and expand her world. Whether it’s the faces of the people she meets, the serenity of the rice fields or the hum of a busy community—each image she takes allows her to share her perspective with others, capturing moments of beauty that might otherwise go unnoticed.

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Aujchara’s story is a testimony to the power of following your passion while respecting and honouring the wishes of loved ones in a culture where this is a treasured part of the human experience. She encourages other young people to pursue what they love, even if it means taking a risk, but to do so in a way that honours God and their parents. Her life is a beautiful example of what happens when you blend duty and dreams.

“Don’t be afraid to rake risk for something you love. But do it in a way that honours God and your parents,” says Aujchara.

For Aujchara, her camera isn’t just a tool, it’s her friend and companion, capturing her story, storing memories and documenting the world around her. Through her lens, we are reminded of the power and potential within each child. Her story shows us what’s possible when a child is known, loved and connected to her community, her family and her passion.

You can bring hope and encouragement to children like Aujchara by sponsoring a child. Your support will help provide them with the opportunity to build confidence and equip them with the courage and resources needed to pursue a future filled with realised potential. Take the first step towards making a lasting impact today.

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Written by Stephanie Hope, Compassion Australia, with local reporting by Piyamary Shinoda, Compassion Thailand Photojournalist