Foundation for Education and Development (GHRE)

The primary goal is to make available a safe and equitable environment for Burmese migrant workers in southern Thailand whilst promoting education and development opportunities for migrant children and disadvantaged adults in southern Thailand.
May 23, 2016

2015: A year of new beginnings for Burma

2015 was an exciting year as Burma first democratic elections in decades yielded a landslide victory for Noble Peace Prize winner Aung San Su Kyi’s National League for Democracy party. Hope for the future has never been brighter for the citizens of Burma. Consquently, FED has seized opportunities to serve and defend the rights of Burmese people at home.

In 2015 FED began supporting the education recovery efforts and took a leading role in the peace and reconciliation movements of rural Kayah State - a land in northeast Burma torn by civil war for much of the past 60 years. Even with this progress, the road to recovery for Burma, a nation consumed by conflict, rights violations, and poverty will take time. FED has not lost sight of this and its founding mission to serve the Burmese migrant community of Thailand. Currently Thailand’s economy provides employment opportunities to an estimated 4 million Burmese migrants, roughly 10% of Thailand’s workforce. Migrant labor drives the Thai fishing, construction, and agriculture industries where migrants fill low-level jobs deemed undesirable by Thais.

The Thai Military regime that took power in May 2014 remains entrenched as the governing body of the nation and continues to receive international pressure to return to democracy as well as address the remaining human trafficking and modern day slavery crisis within its borders. In 2015 FED’s Migrant Development program launched a 3-year project specifically targeting the human trafficking and exploitation issues in the Thai seafood and fishing industry. Our team works tirelessly to address this problem, rescuing numerous victims of trafficking and helping them recover and reintegrate into society.

The FED Education program, our cornerstone and passion, continues to impact over 470 migrant children and their families, by providing the opportunity to receive a quality education in a safe environment. Without FED, these children have few educational opportunities and would likely fall victim to child labor exploitation at very young ages. Educating these children will ensure the next generation of Burmese children become the teachers, doctors, businessmen and leaders the country so desperately needs.

In 2016 FED has ambitious goals to develop and promote new opportunities for our children to advance their education beyond 8th grade through vocational training and the Thai non-formal education system.

During this time of change and unpredictability within the region, FED prides itself in remaining a constant and persistent voice for Burmese people, defending their rights both at home and abroad.

Migrant Workers in Mae Sot, Thailand
Migrant Workers in Mae Sot, Thailand
Happy children at FED School!
Happy children at FED School!

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Apr 18, 2016

Summer vacation is here!

Beauty Pageant Contestants
Beauty Pageant Contestants

Summer holidays have arrived for students and teachers at the ULC. March marked the end of the 2015-16 academic school year as students completed final exams, celebrated the close of another successful year, and said their farewells until school opens again in June. During holiday break many migrant families return home to Burma to visit family and friends for an extended vacation.

April in southeast Asia is highlighted by the Songkran festival (referred to as "Thingyan" in Burmese). Songkran marks the beginning of the new year in Thailand, Burma and several other neighboring countries. Also known as "the waterfestival", Songkran is essentially a week-long water party where entire communities gather in celebration. Water followed by baby powder and perfume is thrown on any vehicle or person brave enough to venture outside. As April is the hottest month of the year, being soaked with cool water is much welcomed. 

At our school a Songkran celebration was held for local Burmese migrant families and children remaining in the area for the holidays. Traditional activities such as honoring the elderly by pouring water on their hands, cultural music and dance as well as a beauty pageant and raffle were held. The family friendly, fun event was organized by our staff and students in collaboration with local community leaders from both Thai and migrant communities. 

Please enjoy the pictures highlighting summer vacation celebrations for our migrant children! Thank you all for your kind generosity and contribution to making our education program sustainable.

Honoring the Elderly for Songkran Festival
Honoring the Elderly for Songkran Festival
Feb 29, 2016

Burmese Migrant Children Education Update

Rohingya mother and child
Rohingya mother and child

We are excited to share 2015 was yet another successful and rewarding year at FED as we provided over 400 Burmese migrant children in southern Thailand an opportunity to access their right to education through our two learning centers. Without these learning centers, our children would not have the opportunity to go to school and would more than likely fall victim to child labor in Thailand's fishing, rubber, and construction industries. Support from friends like you make this all possible. THANK YOU--Your contributions do make a difference!

Feature Story: Educating the region's most persecuted children

by Kieran and Hannah, FED Interns 2015

For decades Burmese military regimes and Buddhist extremists have systematically led an ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, a Muslim ethinic minority group from Rakhine state in western Burma. In recent years violent clashes have left thousands of Rohingya dead and tens of thousands more displaced into refugee camps. Unwanted and unrecognized as citizens in Burma, thousands of Rohingya have fled the violence in wooden and often unreliable ships arranged by corrupt brokers in hopes of finding new lives abroad in countries such as Malaysia. However, in many instances these boats are lost at sea or land in Thailand where the Rohingya are either sent back to Burma or held in detention centers where any hope of a new life and freedom is all but lost.

In mid-2015, a group of 51 Rohingya women and children arrived in the Khao Lak area of Southern Thailand after fleeing ethnic persecution in Burma. Separated from their husbands and fathers, who were sent to detention centres, they were placed in a shelter run by the Thai government. Since that time, FED has been working with the shelter to offer services for the women and children while they await resettlement.

Soon after their arrival in the shelter, FED arranged to enrol the Rohingya children at the Unified Learning Center, our elementary school for Burmese migrants. Many of the children had never attended school before and we were excited to offer them the opportunity, however a number of challenges became clear almost immediately. First of all, because of their lack of education, many of the Rohingya children were at an academic level far below other students of the same age. We were faced with the difficult decision of where to place the students; would it be better to have them in classrooms that matched their skills, or would the embarrassment of working with much younger students negatively affect their ability to learn? More importantly, except for English class all of the courses are taught in Burmese, which most of the children do not speak.

Since the students were most engaged in their English class, and since English skills are very valuable given their uncertain futures, FED has began teaching special classes to the Rohingya children in the afternoons. In doing so, the children can continue to integrate with the other Burmese students in the mornings and at lunch, while having the opportunity to learn English with their Rohingya peers in a more comfortable environment in the afternoon. We are excited to report that the children are incredibly eager students, and have made great progress since the special classes began in early June.

In addition to offering education, we have recently begun organizing fun social activities. To celebrate the end of Ramadan, we worked with the shelter to coordinate a number of activities for the women and children. Refreshments were brought on the day the fasting ended, and FED donated a new outfit to each child. This week, we took the children on a field trip to the local beach, where they spent the day swimming, playing games, and practicing English.

We hope to continue expanding our programming with the Rohingya, to make their time in Khao Lak a more positive experience, and to equip them with skills that will help them in the future. Our next project will be to offer courses for the women during the day, to teach them skills such as sewing and handicrafts. Our goal is to improve their experience in the shelter by engaging them in activities, and also to provide them with abilities that they may eventually use to generate income. As our ambition for the Rohingya project continues to grow, we urge our supporters to consider making a contribution to this worthy cause. An increase in funding will allow us to continue to provide vital services to the Rohingya in Thailand, and as you can see from the pictures, a little can go a long way. 

Youth Unity Camp

A Student Camp was held on the 23rd and 24th of December at the Thai Navy Base in Thaplamu village. The purpose was to strengthen friendships and unity between Thai and Burmese students in the local area. Twenty students from 2 Thai schools, 30 students from FED Learning Centers and 12 teachers participated in peace building and integration activities as well as learned about the unique and diverse ecological environment of the beautiful Khao Lak area. Events like these are vital ways to bridge the gap between Thais and Burmese creating a more understanding and socially inclusive society for future generations.

A farewell note from Teacher Sophie

Here's to all the amazing people I have met during my time in Thailand. Thanks for making it so difficult to say goodbye. So lucky to have you all in my life. Going to miss all the amazing times I've had here. I've never been happier. I enjoyed every moment of teaching English at FED, the Rohingya shelter, and the Burmese community. Let's hope somebody learned a little more English while I was here. That's all that matters. Now onward to new adventures!

--Teacher Sophie

Thank you Sophie for all your hard work and dedication over the past year and a half! You have had a profound impact on countless lives. Your energy, dedication, and compassion for others will be greatly missed!

Looking for a new native English Teacher

With the departure of Teacher Sophie in January 2016, our English program is without a native English teacher. FED is in search of a new native English teacher to start in May/June of 2016 at the beginning of the new academic year at the ULC. The position is responsible for teaching grades 5-8 as well as the ability to support donor reporting and willingness to participate in numerous cultural extracurricular activities. If you or someone you know has a passion for teaching and are looking for an adventure of a lifetime, please let us know! Inquiries about the position can be made to FED Development Director, Mark, at mark@ghre.org.

Exciting Happenings Ahead in 2016!

As we usher in a new year, we at FED are hard at work developing new ways to provide opportunities for migrant children and youth to advance their education. FED's Education Program and Development Department are hard at work designing a Vocational Education program intended to offer migrant youth a chance to improve their English language, business, IT, and hospitality skills. The tourism industry of Southern Thailand is booming and by equipping our students with these skills we will prepare the next generation with the tools necessary to obtain better jobs which will empower them to help break the poverty cycle that has entrapped migrant families for decades. Stay tuned to find out more about the progress of this project and how you can help in future reports!

 

 

 

 

Migrant Student in the Classroom
Migrant Student in the Classroom
A safe school equals happy children
A safe school equals happy children

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