This article appears in the Thailand Tatler June/July 2015 issue and is posted below in it’s entirety.
The Global Health and Education Foundation works to change lives for the better and now its founder Kenneth E Behring aims to expand its efforts to Thailand.
Philanthropist Kenneth E Behring has created learning opportunities through his Global Health and Education Foundation that aim to make a real difference in this world. “Last year we had some young Thai people visit our museums in China and I hope to see more of that,” he says. “Eventually, we hope to be able to make them leaders, the sort of people who will implement changes for a better tomorrow.”
Using his success and dedication to helping humanity, Behring founded the Global Health and Education Foundation (GHEF), a non-profit organisation focused on the effort to alleviate chronic poverty by addressing the root causes such as physical disabilities and lack of necessities including education, safe drinking water, and sanitation and disease prevention. Since 2003, Behring has also helped launch natural history and science museums across China that recreate exotic animal habitats of Africa, North America and Eurasia.
Behring explains that he has been inspired by the dedication of Their Majesties the King and Queen in their mission to improve the livelihood of the people. “I have met with the Thai royal family and have been impressed by their dedication to the people and the environment. The King has great wisdom about the water and the land. Thailand has always been a place I like to visit. The hospitality of the people and the centrality of its location in Southeast Asia make it a good location for developing museums to benefit the people in this region,” he says.
With a strong focus on education, Behring started Global Natural History Day
(GNHD) in 2012, with the aim of inspiring youth to take an active role in preserving the planet’s environment and wildlife. GNHD sets teams of aspiring young leaders to work identifying problems and generating solutions to environment-related issues under a yearly theme with the guidance of a mentor. Each summer, the national winners are given the chance to present their research findings at the GNHD Global Finals in China. A GNHD Thailand national round has been organised, and the winners will receive travel scholarships from the Foundation to attend the Global Finals in China.
“Having many years of experience with museums since helping with the Smithsonian in Washington DC, I firmly believe that museums help children to see the importance of the simple things that are so critical to their livelihood but may otherwise be ignored.
What would Behring like to see in the future? “We started some 12-15 years ago in China and there were no such organisations such as ours there at all at that time. Then we brought in animals as attractions, which brought in the children and made them keen to visit the museums. Now we have some 30 places in China. We hope to achieve something similar in Thailand and ASEAN, to enable us to benefit the rest of Southeast Asia.”
So what’s his motivation? “I love people and ultimately all that I am doing is for the betterment of humanity, of people living together in this world. For me the most important thing is putting a smile on a face that never smiled before. I have seen that happen myself. When people are enabled and feel empowered they can be the catalyst of change. Their lives change and so do the lives of those around them.”