It's always a great delight to update all our supporters with the latest news from the organisation. Before we get started, we would like to take a moment to thank everyone who has generously donated to this project — your support enables us to continue to promote sustainable community development in Southeast Asia.
Since we were last in touch with you, there have been many new developments. Recently large international aid bodies have shifted their focus away from the Thai-Burma/Myanmar border, however many people in these remote communities still face problems due to conflict in the area and have been left without basic supplies. Therefore, The Branch Foundation donated money towards the provision of rice to Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Shan State, Burma, via the Shan State Refugee Committee.
During the months of February and March, we also facilitated a workshop at the BEAM Education Foundation in Chiang Mai. At this workshop, students are taught valuable skills such as how to write CVs and university application letters in English as well as practising interview techniques. This allows them to apply for higher education opportunities and provides them with the confidence to demonstrate their full capability. We've been facilitating this workshop for the past 5 years and look forward to more in the future.
As more sustainable funding options have become available to the local English teachers at Koung Jor Shan Refugee Camp, we've gradually reduced our support over the past couple of years. We continue to stay committed to providing wages to the community's computer teacher and education coordinator whilst the need is present along with non-monetary assistance such as teacher training and educational resources.
In March, Iona made a trip back to New Zealand where she got the chance to meet up with some of The Branch Foundation's long-term supporters. It was fantastic to be able to wrap up the end of our financial year by speaking face-to-face with the people who've cheered us on since the very beginning. We look forward to creating new partnerships and projects in the forthcoming year and we'll be sure to keep you all updated.
With sincere gratitude,
The Branch Foundation Team
We, at The Branch Foundation, hope that all our supporters had a great festive season and good start to the New Year. It's always a pleasure for us to update you about our recent activities as it is only with the help from people such as yourself that we're able to continue to promote sustainable community development in Southeast Asia.
During the last few months of 2017, we continued our support of education at Koung Jor refugee camp based on the Thai-Burma/Myanmar border. We helped provide wages for local English Language and Computer teachers as well as for the education coordinator. The Branch Foundation also tries to build the capacity of these teachers by facilitating trainings at the camp and in December we were lucky enough to have two highly skilled teacher trainers sharing their knowledge. They focused on ensuring a highly interactive classroom environment by introducing games and also tips/methods on how to teach students with varied English language abilities. The importance of these types of training are highlighted in the following quote by Yod Tai, one of the teachers at Koung Jor:
"It was a wonderful training and we the trainees really enjoyed and learned a lot from it. I have applied the activities that I learned from this training with my day class, it is very effective as the students really like it because the activities are quite easy and it allows them to practice their speaking."
In the coming months, we have quite a few exciting developments. Our CV/Resume writing and interview techniques workshop at our partner organisation B.E.A.M will begin in just a couple of weeks time. This workshop helps young migrant adults who are applying for higher education opportunities be able to effectively highlight and communicate their impressive experience and skills. Any day now, we will also be donating money towards food relief at multiple Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Shan State, Burma. Due to recent conflict in the area and international funding trends, many people have been left without basic supplies such as rice and oil. We hope that our contribution will go someway in helping relieve this every day stress and allow these people to concentrate on rebuilding their lives. In March, Iona - the Founder and Director of The Branch Foundation, will be making a trip back to New Zealand where she'll be meeting up with some of our long term supporters and updating them about our activities face-to-face.
We look forward to letting you know more about the above in our next report and hope that you continue to follow our journey of working alongside communities to improve the lives of marginalised people.
The Branch Foundation team
The Branch Foundation team would like to start this report by thanking all those that have supported this project which aims to foster sustainable community development in Southeast Asia. All the initiatives we undertake in the areas of education, renewable energy and capacity building start at the community level. We personally feel this bottom-up approach not only empowers those that are marginalised, but leads to high impact projects which are actually needed rather than imposed.
In our last report to you, we were in the beginning stages of a collaborative project with our valued partner organisation - Solbakken. We’re excited to inform you that since that time, two clinics in remote areas of Karen State, Burma/Myanmar now have access to solar lighting. These clinics, which serve a population of roughly 5,000 people, can now treat people more effectively after dusk in a safer environment without the use of kerosene lamps and candles. We’d like to thank Solbakken who not only install solar systems that are simple to monitor but also provide training in maintenance to the residents.
We have also continued to fund the wages of 8 English teachers, a computer teacher and education coordinator at Koung Jor Shan refugee camp. The project which began in 2011 not only supports wages but also necessary educational materials so that the children in the camp can realise their full potential. The evening English classes are also available to children in the surrounding villages, the importance of which is highlighted in the following quote by a student named Sai Jamza:
“Koung Jor is the only one place in Wieng Heang district that I can attend English class. I used to study English at the Thai school for 12 years, but due to there being many subjects, I did not really gain skills in English. However, since I have been studying at evening English classes in Koung Jor, I feel my skills are improving a lot. For example, I understand more about grammar, can communicate with foreigners and have more confidence when speaking”.
In the coming months, we’ll be holding a couple of capacity building workshops and also focusing our attention to raising funds in order to continue to our projects in the region. We are holding our annual Halloween Fundraiser in Chiang Mai on the 11th November - if you are in the area, please feel free to come join us and party for a good cause. We also have a group of people dedicating the funds from their annual Loy Krathong run in order to support future teacher training sessions. If you would like to speak to us about any fundraising ideas that you might have, please contact us via our website.
Once again, both TBF and the communities with which we work would like to express our gratitude for your support.
Tom Rosen and The Branch Foundation team