Written by Tom Rosen (Project Manager)
Because the residents of the Shan Refugee camp (Koung Jor), which is based in the North-West of Thailand, are restricted to a very limited space, there are scarcely few opportunities for them to raise livestock or grow vegetables. This geographic challenge has led to a lack of vital protein in the community’s diet and has made them prone to malnutrition and illness.
In the past, larger aid organisations such as the Thai Burma Boarder Consortium (TBBC), used to supply the camp with yellow beans, which are essential in providing families with necessary protein. However, in recent years funding for the beans has dropped.
Over the last year, with the help of its supporters, The Branch Foundation has stepped in to fill the funding gap and has been supplying yellow beans to the whole community – which is roughly 600 residents!
Thanks to our donors, they once again have the required protein in their diet so that they can lead healthier lives and feel strong during their daily activities.
During 2013, we plan to implement new income generating projects within the camp so that gradually the residents themselves are able to contribute to a communal pot they can use towards buying the actual yellow beans. This will mean that the community is not only sustainable in their access to protein in the long term but they will also not be reliant on highly fluctuating aid assistance. We will be sure to help facilitate and mentor the community in this transitional period, and are excited for them to be one step further on the path to future self-sustainability!
We feel that these approaches of helping when needs are urgent, combined with the implementation of income generating opportunities and empowering communities to overcome these problems themselves, is the only practical method of sustainable community development. It also ensures that The Branch Foundation is realistic and sustainable in its approach to working collectively with community members.