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, October 21, 2011

Flood Update

Flooding in Central Thailand (picture from CNNGo.com)

Thailand has been in the news recently as some of the strongest flooding in the past 40 years has been occurring.

While our work area in Mae Sot has not been hit directly, there are some concerning factors to consider for the near future, especially for migrant schools on the Thai/Burmese border:
  • With such a large area of agricultural production marred by the flooding, food prices have begun to rise sharply.  This includes rice, vegetables, meat, and other staple foods.  Migrant schools already struggling to find funding for school meals will find it considerably more difficult over the next year.
  • Agricultural inputs like animal feed and garden supplies will also increase in price.
  • Migrants who work at factories in Central Thailand and Bangkok have been returning to Burma via Mae Sot over the past week.  Some of these workers have family in Mae Sot and decide to stay, which could increase the # of students and overall migrants in the area.

Thailand has been struck by large-scale flooding for two years straight now.  If this trend is to continue, UPLift's goal of assisting migrant schools to become more self-reliant for food and funding is becoming a priority.

We have plans to work with schools on eight new garden projects and additional animal rearing projects over the next year.  It is our hope that these students, teachers and schools benefit by having a more stable environment for food production; ultimately, children having sound educations and full bellies is well worth it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Women's Entrepreneurship Program Set to Begin

We are very happy to announce that the UPLift Project is now beginning its program to set up small businesses with female entrepreneurs living in poverty.

As mentioned on previous posts, Khom Loy teamed up with Room To Grow Foundation to compete in "Project Inspire", a contest set up by UN Women (Singapore) and Mastercard to address women's empowerment and entrepreneurship.  As a result of our efforts we received a US$10,000 grant to begin a Financial Literacy program with impoverished women living in a landfill community on the Thai/Burmese border!

Since having planned for a project to cost US$25,000 and last two years did not match with our grant, we have spent the time after the contest to improve and adjust our project in order to provide maximum benefit to women in need at a lower cost, while still maintaining all of our original objectives.

The old project idea involved opening a Women's Resource Center near the landfill where women could generate daily income while receiving financial literacy and life skills trainings.  Through these trainings, UPLift would then  choose ten high motivated and inspiring women, and help each set up a small social enterprise that could provide them with increased income while simultaneously addressing social needs on the landfill.  In addition, we added the goal of having 15 young girls having the financial freedom to attend a nearby migrant school.

The new project idea, while not including land and a center, has much more flexibility, includes double the number of beneficiaries and leaves Mae Sot with a large number of young and capable trainers that can share financial literacy skills with impoverished women in their future communities and jobs.

We will begin by training 24 young adults at a nearby project management school named Wide Horizons on how to become financial literacy trainers themselves.  These individuals are already receiving the education and skills needed to successfully run programs with Burmese and ethnic minority communities, and their capacity to do so will improve after learning more about financial literacy.

Our new project plan spreads knowledge and capacity to a much wider audience!

Our 24 trainers will then work not only with the landfill community, but also a nearby migrant community that they are already working with.  This doubles the # of women receiving these financial literacy skills, and gives UPLift a larger pool of motivated and creative women to work with on small social entrepreneurships.  Finally, the 24 trainers, upon  finishing their work at Wide Horizons, then return to their respective development organizations in Thailand and Burma, where they will have the capacity to design similar programs intended to empower women and improve knowledge.

We are very motivated to begin, and will keep you updated as the project unfolds. Wait until you see the results!