GVI Staff with Community Development Centre
In July 2007 GVI started teaching free English classes to the small but rapidly developing town of Ao Luk; five years on, the base here has seen nearly 450 volunteers come through its doors and make a difference to the warm and welcoming Ao Luk community. As such, over the course of 2012 demand for our free classes has declined as thousands of community members have worked their way through the GVI course and become confident English speakers. Many have used their newly learned language skills to develop their own community tourism businesses, others have improved their employment prospects and some of our younger students have gone on to study English at university in the hopes of becoming English teachers.
In September we closed our base in Ao Luk and moved to a new location on the west coast in Phang Nga province. We’re settling in nicely here in Baan Nam Khem. Amidst these beautiful surroundings – endless beaches, stunning waterfalls, thick jungles – much of the community lives in poverty, with many families still struggling to recover from the effects of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, 8 years on. Baan Nam Khem was the worst hit place in Thailand and those who survived lost everything, even the land they lived on; with no formal property records, many families were unable to prove ownership over their land – in the redistribution many lost out entirely.
We’ve been meeting some of the groups who have been working here since the tsunami, finding out about the work they do and what we can do to help them. The Foundation for Education & Development work primarily with Burmese migrant workers, some of the poorest people in the area and worst affected by the tsunami. They provide education, healthcare support – including hygiene, nutrition, family planning and HIV/AIDs awareness, - legal assistance and vocational training programs to Burmese migrants, who are often marginalised and exploited. They have had a great impact on the lives of the Burmese community and we hope to provide support for their healthcare and education programs.
We’ve also met with various other organisations in the area;
- After a 5 year partnership with the Non-Formal Education Centre in Ao Luk, we are planning to start free English classes at the NFE in Takuapa next month.
- The Community Development Centre in Baan Nam Khem, who provide a full school education to children of Burmese migrants – including free meals – as well as running an after school program for Thai children.
I hope as our supporters, you are as excited by this new challenge as we are. Thank you for all your support in 2013 and we look forward to sending you more information on how the project in Phang Nga develop!