Warm Winter Cloths and Blankets

Education Projects, News — By on February 17, 2010 3:56 pm

Thousands of refugees from the ethnic group of the Shan live in the border region between Thailand and Burma. They flee from the civil war in Burma and the human rights violations that come along with it, but aren’t recognized as refugees in Thailand. This insecure legal status leads to the fact that many of these refugees have to work under difficult and exploitative conditions to secure their livelihoods. As a consequence it is very difficult for many parents to look after their children or provide them with an education. Some parents die during the flight because of illnesses like AIDS or because of the dangerous working conditions and they leave behind orphans that the Thai state doesn’t care for.

The children of the refugees lack the fundamental basics of a humane life: food, clothing, health care and legal status. Because they aren’t recognized as refugees and therefore don’t have papers, they don’t have access to the public education and health care systems, which means they are at great risk to become victims of human trafficking, the sex industry or the drug trade. Thus education very often stays a far-off and unrealistic dream which keeps the children trapped in a vicious circle of poverty and insecurity.

Active Social Responsibility (www.activesocialresponsibility.com), the initiator of the project Schools of Hope made it its duty to give these disadvantaged refugee children in the border region access to basic education and vocational training so they can break out of the vicious circle of poverty and violence.

As a first project of Schools of Hope a school for refugee children was opened in Nong Ook so that these children could have a chance in the future to escape the spiral of poverty and violence. Nong Ook is located in the border region between Thailand and Burma, in an area, where the border is rather unsecured and porous, which means that refugees arrive here rather frequently. The situation of the newly arrived is especially difficult because they lack any knowledge in the national language Thai, so they have to work under exceptionally bad terms. Currently approximately 100 Shan families live under such dire circumstances in Nong Ook.

The goal of Schools of Hope is to give the children and families a chance at a brighter future, by providing them with a basic education (including language classes and vocational training). In May 2009 the first school could be opened and now 49 students receive an education there. They get the chance of a basic training in Thai, Shan, English, mathematics and general education free of charge. In addition to the classes the children also get a daily lunch and medical care. In the long run the carriers of Schools of Hope wish to open separate health projects in the region, to also reach the people that don’t go to school. Because the children come from very poor backgrounds and it is often not possible for the parents to buy adequate clothing, warm clothes, shoes and blankets for the children will be paid for from the school’s budget starting November, when the cold season starts in Thailand.

In the future the school hopes to offer language classes in Thai for adults on the premises of the school in the evenings, because a lack of knowledge in the national language is one of the biggest obstacles for the integration into Thai society.

Active Social Responsibility works in community development in a very special way. The organization’s aim is to integrate the sponsors actively into the projects. Through the active participation of the donors, the organization wishes to advance a mutual learning process that creates a personal relationship between donor and recipient. The active and personal involvement of the sponsors is visible in the way the projects are run. Some families aren’t only sponsors but also act as project directors and board of directors. This way they can directly influence the work and they make the commitment to visit the respective project, which means they can assure themselves of the efficiency and outcome of the work. It is also the job of the board of directors to raise awareness for the projects among their friends and relatives and to acquire donations. Through their personal commitment they can assure that the money is used effectively and sustainably and is being used where it is most needed.

To support the work of Active Social Responsibility the Thailife Foundation donated 770 € to the Schools of Hope project. The budget will be used for buying warm winter cloths and blankets for the students of Schools of Hope in Ban Nong Ook.