We want to take this opportunity to thank all of our donors for their continued support throughout this difficult time. The world over has been affected by the pandemic, young and old have suffered. The government of Thailand was very quick to react to COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic, with travel restrictions and lockdown measures implemented.
In terms of education, the pandemic has caused severe disruption. Schools were closed with immediate effect, initially for a minimum of 5 months. The local schools set up a system where the parents collected the week's work from the school on a Sunday and returned the completed work the following Friday. The teachers were available for help and support throughout this time. The schools also provided home visits to check on the children and the families’ welfare. However, you can imagine the impact this has had on the children's education. The reopening was staged with different classes being taught at different times, and some of our students have still not been able to return to their education.
One of the main ongoing issues that local schools face is children leaving education below the age of 16. When the school breaks for the holiday in April, they always see much fewer students returning the next school year. Although the extended time at home was a real concern, through engagement and ensuring that the families and students had good support, we were pleased to see a good number of children returning to school. However, many are still to return. This may be due to people moving because of their parent’s work, or the children being needed at home, or living outside of the village with them unable to make the journey to school. We are hence in discussions with the schools to see how we can help them meet the transportation needs of the children who live outside of the village to allow them continued access to quality education.
We were really honoured to be invited to our partners’ end of year celebrations, where the students showcased their English skills along with the work experience projects they completed. With the skills they have developed, they are empowered to improve their opportunities and living standards and it was great to see the fruition of all of their hard work under such challenging conditions.
One of the many reasons why Thailand had such low numbers of COVID-19 was due to the local community healthcare volunteers. The volunteers are made up of local members of the community, each responsible for around 10 houses. It is their responsibility to monitor the health of specific families and visitors. Ban Nam Khem had a checkpoint at the entrance of the village, counting everyone entering the village. Everyone’s temperature was checked as well as ensuring masks were being worn. Thanks to previous donations we were able to loan equipment to the healthcare units. A local Burmese foundation installed handwashing facilities around the village. We helped educate the community on the risks and protection needed for the pandemic. Vaccinations have now started, community healthcare volunteers have had their first dose, and are awaiting their second. We are, however, still unsure of how the vaccinations will be distributed, especially as many in our community are Burmese and Moken, so are without Thai Identification.
We are currently supporting GVI Charitable Programs "The 6th Mass Extinction" campaign, where we will be joining nearly 500 other people around the world to help highlight the current conservation and climate crisis we all face, actions we can all take to help reduce the negative impact we are all having on the planet and to help raise funds to support environmental education, critical conservation and climate action projects. In Thailand, the conservation and climate crisis are very real, everyday concepts, and so please support or donate to the campaign through the link below.