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 20, 2015

Update - May 2015

Using the computer in the refugee camp
Using the computer in the refugee camp

The Branch Foundation, on behalf of Sai Oo, would once again like to thank you for your generous support towards this project. At this present point in time, Sai Oo is extremely busy revising for his forthcoming exams and preparing his end of term presentation however he did have the time to write this message for which he wanted me to pass onto you:

"So far the second semester is harder than first semester. There is a lot of focus on academic writing, which needs good references. It's a lot easier when we get to work as a team, however I often find my English abilities are the strongest therefore I do a lot of the work. Even though we are in our second term, us first year students are still ordered about by the second year students - if they say jump, we have to say how high.

It is important for me to study in University because I need to improve my skills in my interest of computers. My main aim is to use Information Technology to provide education to the children.  My newly learnt skills have already benefited positively to my community so far. For example, I recently completed a project for Computer Aided Instruction (CAI) to help with children’s education which is named the 'DeakDoy' (hill children) application."

It's plain to see from his message that he is dedicated to use the skills that he is learning at university to give back to his community, showing himself once again to be a selfless individual. We are honored to help him achieve his goals and are sincerely thankful that you have supported us in doing so.

We wish Sai Oo all the best for his end of term exams and look forward to keeping you updated in the future.

With gratitude,

Tom Rosen and The Branch Foundation Team

Studying hard on the campus grounds
Studying hard on the campus grounds
Apr 24, 2015

Happy Earth Day

Children from the community walking to school
Children from the community walking to school

Firstly, The Branch Foundation team would like to wish you a happy Earth Day 2015. This is a day for us to pause and look at our impact on this precious planet which we all share. For many people across the world, renewable energy solutions are not just a choice but a necessity due to where they live. This is true for the community at Loi Lum Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, where there is no access to the electrical grid, thus the residents used to rely on kerosene lamps and candles to light their homes.

Fortunately, with the help of generous people such as yourself, we have managed to bring clean and efficient solar lighting to each household which has since increased safety within the camp and also allowed children to study and adults to continue working into the night. However, we are still short of our goal of supplying a solar system to the community's school so that the children have enough energy to power computers. Access to information technology will not only help the kids to study for existing subjects but it will also introduce them to computing skills which are vital in today's world.

The Branch Foundation installed a solar system for a computer in a refugee camp in 2012, which enabled reliable access to this resource by both the children and adults of this community. Sai Oo, the computer teacher at the time, told us the following in an email he wrote on that same computer:

"All the people in the camp benefit from the solar powered computer. You and your supporters have helped protect the environment, save on electrical bills and support education therefore we would like to thank you very much."

We would be extremely grateful, if on this important day, you choose to help this community with your 'act of green' by either donating again or telling your friends and family about this project.

Sincerely,

Tom Rosen and The Branch Foundation Team

The remote area in Shan State, Burma
The remote area in Shan State, Burma
A solar powered computer we installed in 2012
A solar powered computer we installed in 2012
Apr 3, 2015

An update before the summer break

An English language class for local monks
An English language class for local monks

Since our last report to you, we have continued to support the educational needs of the youth of Koung Jor refugee camp. Your generous donation has helped us pay the wages of the dedicated local teachers who work hard to pass on their knowledge and expertise to the younger generations. Ensuring that local teachers are paid does not only reward them for their time but also provides an incentive to those they teach to one day step into their shoes and help bring vital lessons into this marginalised community such as computer classes, and English and Burmese language classes.

We have not only provided wages to the teachers but also another training. Last month, we held our second teacher training session which this time focused on lesson planning. This allows the teachers to design lessons which not only bring new topics into fruition but also enables them to make the classes more interactive and fun using some of the classroom activities they learnt about in the previous teacher training session which took place last October.

Sai Leng, the camp headman who also teaches English and Burmese, explained the following to us:

"As some of the teaching materials we have are old, it can sometimes be hard to keep the attention of the students, however with knowing how to attain our goal of each lesson we teach along with activities that keep the students actively learning in class and giving them an opportunity to interact with what is taught means that we can overcome the restraints of a low-resource environment".

Some local monks even joined the training as they were about to teach and take part in the annual Shan Culture summer school in which children learn about the Shan language, heritage and buddhist practises. This is very important to the community as many children were born and brought up in the refugee camp in Thailand. This therefore secures the future of their culture and gives a sense of belonging to people who have suffered persecution and discrimination throughout their lives. We hope to provide you with some photos of the Shan culture summer school in our next report to you.

This project is eligible for matching donations from GlobalGiving on the 14th April making your donation go that much further, so if you would like to share information about this project amongst your friends and family, now is the perfect time to do so.

With sincere gratitude,

Tom Rosen and The Branch Foundation Team

Teacher training begins in the camp
Teacher training begins in the camp's temple
A small graduation ceremony after the training
A small graduation ceremony after the training

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