Growing Futures Thailand - BaanPakKwe School Food Program

Status : COMPLETED

This project aimed to empower primary school children to grow, cook and eat food at their school without relying on food for education sponsorship. The primary reason we were invited into this village was to assist the community in food self sufficiency and reduce the perceived need to traffic children. Our aim was to include females as key holders of agriculture technique and knowledge and secure their position within the community whilst providing alternative income streams and choices. This project was coupled with a livestock breeding program and survey of water supply options.

About the community we are helping

At the time this project was launched, the Thai army and the Myanmar army (militia) were at a standoff point with military positions surrounding the village of BaanPakKwe. The Thai government had provided limited resources for the village with the construction of a school but did not provide teachers or resources. The inhabitants are Lahu hill tribes people, traditional forest hunters, who moved into this area more than 30 years ago.

Initial contact with this village was through another organisation specialising in preventing child trafficking. Their information pointed to the possibility that the village would not be able to feed their children in the coming dry season and would be tempted to sell them into illegal child smuggling (prostitution or labour) which is active in this area.

They are NOT Thai nationals. This has seriously impacted the education, services and employment they can access and also limits their travel to the local district. They have had limited capacity to generate income, limited agriculture to provide food and an insecure water supply. The village had no municipal infrastructure to support their existence and only a few speak Thai, everyone speaks the traditional Lahu dialect.

Benefits to the Community

A team of people were selected by the community leaders to attend a specialised training course in a nearby village and bring back new skills to the community. The team consisted of young men and many young girls who learnt organic farming techniques such as compost making, mulching, garden bed making, companion planting and a special focus on the production of local fertilisers and pesticides using  adapted effective micro-organism technology, locally named Jurancy. The school children were also given training in a small aquaculture system to provide fertiliser for their gardens and provide fish to eat for the community.

How Our Volunteers Helped

Aliamos volunteers (2 adults and 2 children) lived in the village for two months and were able to get a clear understanding of the issues impacting the village and to provide this information to the other organisations working with the village. Through facilitation of localised training and the supply of some tools and fish ponds, Aliamos was able to provide the opportunity for the village to expand their food growing. The food for education intervention was continued by another organisation which impacted on the uptake of the school garden aspect of the project, however when the time comes for this organisation to discontinue the food for education Aliamos has provided the skills and materials for the village to grow their own food. Water buffalo where also purchased to expand the villages breeding stock. The volunteers were also able to advise on available water supply options which enabled other organisations and local Thai philanthropist to donate and install additional infrastructure to secure the water supply.

Through the combined and continued involvement of Aliamos and several other NGO’s, particularly the Lahu Association, The Grey Man and Kids Ark, BaanPakKwe is now protected by the Thai Government and provided for equally with Thai villages. The village is moving towards self-sufficiency and is food secure and has expanded their livestock breeding. They have  developed a small enterprise to encourage women to weave and sell traditional hand made products to passing tourists.