The Branch Foundation

Our Mission: The Branch Foundation aims to work alongside marginalized communities in South-East Asia to support sustainable community development through education, capacity building and renewable energy solutions. Our Vision: Cohesive South-East Asian communities empowered to be self-reliant and able to participate in opportunities available in the wider community around them.
Jan 27, 2015

Let there be solar lanterns

A resident studies by candlelight
A resident studies by candlelight

We are delighted to inform you that, after everyone's wonderful fundraising activities for this project, we have managed to make our first disbursement of solar lanterns to this remote Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Shan State, Burma. The residents of Loi Lum IDP camp have previously had to rely on expensive, dangerous and unhealthy forms of lighting such as kerosene lamps and candles in order to light their homes after sun down. Not only did this effect the health, safety, and disposable income of the community but made it difficult for the children to study and their parents to continue income generating activities at night.

Earlier this month we were excited to hear that 40 solar lanterns arrived safely at Loi Lum. These provide not only an excellent source of household light but are also capable of recharging phones. Residents can choose the level of lighting, from low to medium to bright, which enables them to maximize their control of battery life. The lanterns provide a light meter reading so that people can position the solar panels to ensure they get the most of the sunlight available.

Sai Tom, the local school principle, said the following in an email:

"I have just given the villages the solar lanterns and they are very happy with them. They would like to thank The Branch Foundation and it's supporters"

We hope to raise the remaining funds before March, at which time we plan to install the solar system for the school and to provide another 7 solar lanterns to the community. We sincerely hope that you consider donating once again to this worthwhile cause so that we can reach our funding target and, more importantly, our goal of providing cheap, safe and clean energy to this remote community.

With sincere gratitude,

Tom Rosen and The Branch Foundation Team

Each household representative receives a lantern
Each household representative receives a lantern
Your donation = A lasting difference for many
Your donation = A lasting difference for many
Charging up!
Charging up!
Jan 21, 2015

An update from Sai Oo

Firstly, we at The Branch Foundation would like to wish you a happy new year.

Last week I received an email from Sai Oo in which he answered my questions regarding his experiences at university so far and why it is important for him to continue his studies. This is what he had to say:

"Here are 3 experiences I have faced during my studies so far. One was learning among younger ages and it was fun to work with them, however they did not take things seriously. Anyway they got a better grade from assignments. I saw that they learned things quicker than I did. It took time for me to do homework. One of them usually said that I should take it easy when I tried to read lessons in front of him, however, in the end he would like to change his major at last because he could not follow the lessons.

Another one was that I had access to good learning materials and environments such as the internet and a library. They are accessible all the time and helpful to study. Another new experience was having to live with people from different cultures. The most challenging was, when I do my homework, my roommate was playing either electrical guitar or rock music in the room at dormitory. It was a terrible noise and disturbance to concentrate on my lessons. Anyway I developed my patience and by talking with them, I eventually resolved the issue. 

It is important for me to continue attending University because I need more skills regarding of Information Technology in order to improve myself. I found out that there are a lot to learn in this field such as programming and business retails. In the future, using IT for everything will be common so understanding those methods is required. I am a teacher for refugee children so I need to be an expert to teach my students and I should have the mentioned skills."

Everyone I know who has met Sai Oo knows that he's an extremely hard working individual who is dedicated to helping his community back at Koung Jor Shan refugee camp and we can see from his answers to the questions that, whilst attending university for the first time had its challenges, he has the determination to overcome them.

We are delighted that he now has the opportunity to pursue his dreams, and have started a new fundraising campaign to ensure he is able to continue to do so in the future by securing funds for his 2nd year at university. Last year, over 30 people from various different countries around the world donated to help Sai Oo, which goes to show that even the smallest contribution can make a large and lasting difference. Please consider continuing your support by clicking the following link:

http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/support-sai-oos-dream-of-attending-uni-year-2/

With sincere gratitude,

Tom Rosen and The Branch Foundation Team

Jan 8, 2015

Teacher Training at Koung Jor Shan Refugee Camp

All the local teachers together
All the local teachers together

Firstly, we would like to wish you a happy new year! In the last report we promised to update you about the teacher training workshop due to be held at Koung Jor Shan Refugee Camp and as we like to keep to our promises - here we are!

Lauren Perkins, an experienced teacher trainer who has undertaken similar activities in this and other refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border, carried out the workshop in October 2014. In total 10 local teachers from the community partook in the training including the headman of the camp himself. The workshop lasted 3 days and mainly focused on introducing participatory classroom activities in order to fully engage students and keep them energized.

At first, the camp teachers were quiet and lacked confidence in both their English skills and their own teaching. However, after a few ice-breaking interactive activities, they were speaking out and actively participating in training activities. By the end of the training, they had all practiced using some of the techniques in micro-teaching sessions (teaching each other), which clearly boosted their confidence in their own abilities.

Sai Nanta, one of the camp's English teachers had the following to say about the workshop:

"Every year there are some new teachers who haven’t attended teacher training therefore we need it regularly. The most important thing that I learnt from teacher training is lesson planning, because in our camp we don’t have a curriculum, so I need to find new ideas for my lesson to teach in class."

In the survey we took after the workshop, all that participated found it to be very useful and were keen to put what they learnt into practice. Based on their feedback, we plan to increase the amount of teacher training sessions in the future and also include more local teachers from the surrounding area.

It is only with the support from people like yourself that we are able to undertake such activities so we are very thankful and hope that you continue to help boost the educational standards in this vibrant refugee community.

With gratitude,

Tom Rosen and The Branch Foundation Team

Lauren introducing new classroom activities
Lauren introducing new classroom activities
Teachers working in teams
Teachers working in teams

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