7 Projects Since 200

1) Sanitation and Safety at Koung Jor Shan Refugee Camp – Chiang Mai, Thailand

TBF began working with Koung Jor Shan Refugee Camp on the Thai-Burma border back in 2009. The Camp is not officially recognised by the Thai Authorities or the United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees for historical reasons and neither Thailand nor Burma want another refugee camp to tarnish their international reputation. Due to this, the community has often been overlooked by larger aid organisations. The Thai Border Consortium provided basic thatched housing and food rations for Koung Jor residents, however this level of assistance was far from what was received by other refugee camps along the border. Therefore TBF visited the camp and listened to their most urgent needs at the time: sanitation and safety. We helped provide 9 toilets, hygiene packs (soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste etc), mosquito nets and locks for the residents’ doors. Since a healthy and safe community is a more productive one, this has allowed the residents time to concentrate on further developing sustainable projects.

2) Weaving Project at Koung Jor Refugee Camp – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Now that the Koung Jor community had less to worry about in terms of health and safety within the Camp, the residents were able to dedicate more time to generating an income. Many gained employment at local farms picking chillies and lychees. However, this work was seasonal and not all residents were able to leave their young children alone at home. In 2010, after discussions with the Camp Headman and committee, TBF, along with the Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) implemented a weaving project. Together, we provided 12 weaving looms, training and eventually marketing advice. This project enabled mothers to look after their children while generating a consistent income. We are proud to say that demand is currently high for the beautiful woven goods that the weavers produce and they are sold worldwide.

3) Sangkhlaburi Child Protection Project – Sangkhlaburi, Thailand

Traditionally, TBF only supports communities as a whole. However, there are always exceptions we as an organisation must take into consideration. In this case, a family of 5 were residing in a safe house in Sangkhlaburi. The safe house’s main purpose was to support mentally ill patients in the local area. The family was staying there because the father had a bad accident, which made it impossible for him to work whilst he recovered. During 2010, TBF, along with the safe house committee members, realised that this was not an appropriate environment for the family- especially the children. Therefore, we provided them with a home, a food allowance, and training for the mother to weave at home so she could look after her children whilst earning an income. In this new environment, the father soon recovered from his injuries and was able to begin working in local farms again. The family now are fully self-sufficient and no longer need outside assistance.  Sometimes all it takes is a little helping hand in order for an entire family to get back on their feet.

4) Education for 28 at-risk girls – Phnom Penh, Cambodia

As TBF’s scope of projects grew, so did our geographical reach. One of our volunteers brought the Cambodian Centre for the Protection of Children’s Rights (CCPCR) to our attention in 2011. CCPCR had a shelter in Phnom Penh that aimed to provide a safe environment and a brighter future for 28 girls who had either been abused or involved in sex trafficking. They were experiencing funding difficulties at that time, so TBF decided to help fund education for these vulnerable girls/young women. We provided school fees, uniforms, lunch allowances and bicycles for the 28 girls. We felt that once a community or group of vulnerable people had access to safety, then the next logical step was to help provide them with an education. This way, they can take the skills they learn into the future and prevent their own families from falling into a life of danger and uncertainty. CCPCR’s funding situation has now improved and they no longer need assistance from TBF.

5) Outreach Education Project – Chiang Mai, Thailand

TBF opened its Chiang Mai Office/Education Centre in 2011. All our projects are coordinated and education programs are developed from here. With education now high on our organisational priority list, we met with many other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community based organisations (CBO’s) in the area to discuss what was missing for the local migrant/refugee populations in terms of educational development. Many other organisations were concentrating on teaching English and computer skills to better the students’ chances of entering higher education. With all the academic skills they had learned, there were obstacles they encountered.  Along with these existing NGOs, we identified that there was a lack of preparation when students applied for scholarships to universities.  We started to provide both group and one-on-one lessons in the areas of CV-writing, cover letter advice, and interview techniques. Our workshops with Bridging Education Access for Migrants (B.E.A.M) proved very successful with the students, giving them the confidence boost to effectively compete with other scholarship applicants. This is an ongoing project and we are looking forward to developing our curriculum and resources further for this year’s workshops.

6) Solar Panel Project at Koung Jor Refugee Camp – Chiang Mai, Thailand

At Koung Jor, we first supported the immediate need for sanitation and safety.  Then we concentrated on income generation and extracurricular education programs. So what was the next step? With the forward-thinking Headman of the Camp always coming up with bright ideas, it was easy to collectively determine a sustainable project that would benefit the community long-term. Solar lighting allowed the residents to worry less about household fire risks previously posed by expensive candles and kerosene lamps. In 2011, we provided each home at Koung Jor with a solar panel, and all 500+ residents have seen the immediate benefits of renewable energy. It has improved community health by removing toxic fumes produced by those lamps, enabled children to study and parents to work on handicrafts after dusk, and saved each family just under $10(USD) per month. This project was such a success that news spread to the Loi Lum internally displaced persons (IDP) camps on the other side of the border in Shan State, Burma. We are now looking to provide Loi Lum residents with solar lighting and hope to spread the light further into overlooked communities in the future. To read more about our solar lighting project at Loi Lum IDP camp, please click here.

7) Forthcoming project (name to be decided)– Chiang Mai, Thailand

A project idea has been floating about the office for some months now, and we hope to put it into action sometime soon. Whilst we have yet to finalise the details of this innovative project, we can give you a few details that will allow you to see our vision. Essentially, we hope to provide local communities and CBOs a wide array of resources allowing FREE access to all of the information we have collected over the years. We believe local community members are the best suited to create local change and with these resources readily available,  we hope to provide them the means to create positive, sustainable results.