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.
May 8, 2014

Update Report - Feedback from the community

Children studying using kerosene lamps as lighting
Children studying using kerosene lamps as lighting

In our last report regarding this project, we informed you that we sent a new design of solar lantern to be tested at Loi Lum internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Shan State, Burma. Since that time we have received feedback from the community members who got the opportunity to experience solar lighting in their households for the first time. The results were very similar to those we received from our previous solar lighting project at the Koung Jor Shan refugee camp.

The solar lantern was tested in four households in the IDP camp and this is what we learned:

  • All 4 households reported that they now worry less about household fires (success rating = 4.25 out of 5)
  • Residents did not have any issues using these easy to install lanterns
  • An average of 215 THB (7 USD) was saved per month due to not having to buy candles and kerosene. That's an amazing 75% of their monthly income!
  • All residents said that having safe lighting at night improved their standard of living
  • The solar lanterns allowed all children to study after dusk and also enabled the older residents to continue working on products such as brooms and roof thatches which they sell in the local area

Mr Hsen illustrated the benefits of solar lighting to the local children's education by saying "The children could do home work together without parents worrying that they will use the fire dangerously".

We are now very confident that these new solar lighting systems will achieve the objectives that we have set ourselves for this project. Over the next few months we hope to raise the remaining funds so that when the rainy season has ended and the camp is more easily accessible, we can provide all the households in this community with clean and safe lighting.

On 16th July, GlobalGiving will be hosting a bonus day in which they will match all donations by 40%. This is a perfect opportunity to get this project fully funded and we hope that you can help us. There are many ways in which you can raise funds such as telling your friends about this project, hosting a dinner party or completing a sponsored walk/run. Please feel free to email me if you would like help setting up a GlobalGiving fundraising page and/or hosting an event.

Many thanks,

Tom Rosen and The Branch Foundation Team

The school at Loi Lum
The school at Loi Lum
A family eating dinner together in semi darkness
A family eating dinner together in semi darkness

Links:

Apr 28, 2014

Update Report - April 2014

Some of the Shan Culture workshop attendees
Some of the Shan Culture workshop attendees

Since our last report, we have continued to provide stipends for the local Computer, English and Burmese language teachers. We also provide a stipend for an Education Coordinator who resides in the refugee camp. He ensures that all the educational activities run smoothly and effectively. Recently, he has been busy preparing the annual Shan culture workshop which lasts for one month and allows the children, who were born on the Thai side of the border, a chance to learn more about their ancestors heritage, language and traditions.

We recently heard some more good news from the Koung Jor Shan refugee camp. Firstly, another student has been accepted to attend an Information Technology vocational course in Chiang Mai! This student is now the second to be accepted this year. His sister - Ying Kam said, "I learn computer here and I want to be like my brother", which shows both the popularity of the computer classes and how they provide the necessary skills for the students to progress into other educational opportunities. Secondly, the children and youth of the camp recently completed another Burmese language test in which the pass rate improved dramatically from 65.4% from their first test in December 2013 to 78.5% in March 2014. As there is a potential threat of forced repatriation back to Burma, both The Branch Foundation and the camp committee feel it's important to equip the youth of the camp with the language skills necessary to reintegrate more easily into Burmese society should this scenario ever happen.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude for supporting this very much-needed project. We are still looking for extra funding to reach our target, so if you know of friends or family members who would be interested in giving the gift of education, please feel free to let them know how your donation has improved the lives of the camp's children and hopefully they will be inspired by your generosity.

Kind regards,

Tom Rosen and The Branch Foundation Team

Burmese class at Koung Jor refugee camp
Burmese class at Koung Jor refugee camp
The youngest students attending Burmese class
The youngest students attending Burmese class

Links:

Apr 21, 2014

The first quarter of 2014

Rotary Peace Fellowship Graduation
Rotary Peace Fellowship Graduation

Dear friends of The Branch Foundation, 

In the last few months all our projects have been running smoothly, especially our new solar project at Loi Lum internally displaced persons camp in Shan State, Burma, which has been steadily picking up momentum. Our friends at the Earth Day Network recently featured the project, which you can check out here. In the next few months we are looking forward to organise the next round of our Out-Reach Education Workshops in Chiang Mai and to work with the Koung Jor refugee camp community to continue our local education project. We also have some potential new projects in the pipeline, which we will be sure to update you on.

The first quarter of 2014 also included a great opportunity for me to gain new knowledge, which I am looking forward to put to use at The Branch Foundation. In January this year I attended a 3-month Rotary Fellowship in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution in Bangkok focusing on conflict analysis, negotiation & mediation, problem solving & approaches for intervention, peace processes, cross cultural communication and media. During my time in Bangkok I was given the opportunity to attend many networking events and to gain a deeper understanding of the overall current and future position and direction of sustainable community development in South-East Asia. Although The Branch Foundation is a relatively small organisation it was enlightening to see how in tune, forward thinking, and respected our organisational philosophy is by others in the development sector. 

Thank you for your ongoing commitment and generosity, by supporting this project you are contributing to the sustainability of all of our projects! If you have family or friends who would be interested to support this project, please do feel free to share this report and tell them a little about the project and its importance in providing a sustainable future. 

In the next few weeks keep an eye out for our next edition of 'Branching Out' - our online newsletter. This is set to be a special one, celebrating 7 fantastic years of The Branch Foundation! If you haven't already you can subscribe here.

With gratitude,

Iona and The Branch Foundation Team.

One of the keen students at our education workshop
One of the keen students at our education workshop
Loi Lum house waiting for a solar panel
Loi Lum house waiting for a solar panel

Links:

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