UPLift--Poverty Alleviation For The Ultra-Poor

UPLift is a program designed to empower communities on the Thai/Burmese border that lack food security, opportunities for income, and education. Through the use of small grants and skills trainings, these families receive the opportunity to pull themselves out of poverty without having to rely on external aid indefinitely.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Starting the Pig/Compost Pilot Project!

This week, Hway Ka Loke Learning Center and the UPLift Program began work on our first Pig/Compost Project in the Mae Sot area.  This project is designed to give migrant schools and families on the Thai/Burmese border more access to income generation opportunities, and to become more self-reliant! (To view the full photo album, click here.)

Work began on Wednesday, when the assistant principal of the school joined Mark and our newest staff member on digging the perimeter of a one-meter deep litter, and doing their best to clear the top layer of soil and grass. 

Thursday provided some more progress:

...and then Friday just happened to be a school holiday, which meant that some of the older students interested in agriculture were available to give some assistance!

Work should finish on Saturday, and we can move on to the next step--planning and constructing the walls and roof.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pig Rearing for Burmese Migrant Schools--Project Update

Staff and Volunteers at New Life
This week Mark visited New Life Foundation in Chiang Rai in order to learn more about organic farming and to meet another specialist in the area of deep-litter pig rearing.  As a result, our Pig-Compost pilot project is set to begin in Mae Sot next week. (For photos of Mark's visit click here.)

New Life Foundation is a recovery center for those dealing with drug addiction issues.  UPLift first met New Life staff during a Natural Farming training we attended together in March.  Julien, the current manager of New Life, has recently begun a revamping of the site's farmland in order to generate income on a larger scale in order to self-fund their operations.

To do this, New Life is working alongside Ajan Suthat, a former chemical engineer who has recently found a passion for organic farming.  Compared to other teachers and programs on the topic of Natural Farming, Ajan Suthat uses a more scientific, data-based approach to refine pig rearing, organic farming, and compost production in order to help impoverished families learn how to do these things for themselves.

Ajan Suthat (center) working with New Life employees

With his methods for improving pig feed, raw material inputs and overall pig health, UPLift's pilot project in Mae Sot will improve considerably, most notably the reduction of time needed to increase a pig's weight to 100kg (our previous estimate of 5 months has reduced to 3 months).

Speaking of the pilot project at Hway Ka Loke school in Mae Sot, we will sit down with the school staff and begin the planning process next week!

5 Minutes to Change the World, and How We're Doing It!

Last week, UPLift and Room 2 Grow staff completed their video entry for the Project Inspire competition, sponsored by the UN Women's Organization and Mastercard.  This competition gives a $25,000 grant to the group with the best plan for improving women's lives through social entrepreneurship and financial literacy.  Check out the video above!

As you know, over the past year UPLift has been working with a number of families on a city landfill near the Thai-Burmese border in Tak province, Thailand to help increase their food security and income through a variety of pilot projects.  Two of these projects have proven themselves to be lasting, effective, and most importantly drawing the interest of other families on the landfill.  With this in mind, Paul Hancock from UPLift realized that women have been responsible for our most effective pilot projects and have the power to change the status quo on and around the landfill.

Now that we wish to scale up our activities to include other families, having a grant opportunity such as this that matches our goals is fantastic, and we are "inspired" to continue our work in this area.