As OneWorld purchases products from many countries most of which are not as fortunate or wealthy as the counties we live in so we are trying in small ways to help with foundations overseas that help promote children’s education in these countries. This organisation we are helping at the moment is run by an Australian (Ben Bowler) who has given up so much to live on the Thai/Burmese border with his family assisting with these projects.
If you would like to contribute in any way please contact our office and we can give you the details of the organisation for contributions.
We will also be launching a greeting card program later in the year which can be sold in retail stores and help towards these projects.
Please read further about the details of this project from the Foundation based there.
There are thousands of illegal Shan Burmese migrants living and working on the orange farms in the mountainous region between Fang and the Burma border. These families, having fled the situation in their homeland for a variety of reasons, now work in conditions that no one else will accept for wages ranging from 50-80 Baht per day. Having no papers and often no Thai language skills they are an extremely vulnerable group.
Last month we learned through our associate – Teacher Lan Mao, that there were some 30-40 students attending no school whatsoever living across two orange farms in an area right on the border itself. These children ranging in ages from 4-12 literally sit around the shed all day waiting while the older children and adults work the fields. We visited some families living on these farms and were appalled at the conditions. Not only were the majority of children not in school but there was no sanitation, very little to eat and we have since learned that despite their back-breaking labour, the Thai-Chinese farm owner is a tardy payer at best. On our most recent visit we discovered the matriarch of one family in a desperate situation. This extraordinary women is responsible for five little ones and four young adults. Although we had brought some basic supplies she broke down went out of the shed and quitely wept because there was no rice to feed her family. Of course we provided them with a large sack of rice, but what would of happened had our party not intervened I do not know.
Having conducted research with our Thai staff we have learned that there are some 33 children on 2 adjacent farms who have completely slipped through the Thai education net. Distance from the closest government school in Ban Lan village as well as this school already being over capacity contribute to these children having no practical access to schooling. Pi Pui, our education manager for the region conducted verbal Thai language tests and discovered also their Thai language is non existent for many of the children and generally far below where it would need to be for them to survive and prosper at this stage in a Thai school.
The larger farm, where 28 of the children live has an abandoned SWAN school out on the farm. It also boasts a very serviceable school room in the ’shanty town’ where the workers live. It is this building where we shall begin the project, with a view of moving down to the larger SWAN school if growth in numbers should make this necessary. We have yet to determine how many other children on nearby farms within walking distance may also be needing access to this type of non formal education.
The plan now is to begin with two teachers, one focused on Thai language so as to prepare them for eventual entrance into the Thai system and the other to teach Mathematics, Shan language & culture.
Teacher Lan Mao will be the head teacher of the school. We have worked with him twice on the Learn to Live program where he has volunteered as a teacher-trainer. Lan Mao is a respected ethnic Shan teacher with many years of experience working for SWAN schools. We have several candidates for the 2nd position, which will be a lady teacher whose tasks will also include preparing hot meals for the student’s midday meal.
The school will on be a full-time ‘day’ timetable operating from 08:00 – 15:30, Monday to Friday.