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.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

November Monthly Report

Up-and-coming radish plants at Parami School

November was the start of a fun and hectic schedule for Khom Loy's projects in Mae Sot.  Garden projects are in full swing, the financial literacy project for migrant women is slowly coming into fruition and we are learning some new tricks in the pig project!  Enjoy the updates below.

School Gardens

1. Love and Care School (a center where migrant youth attend grades 9-12 and study hard to qualify for post-high school education programs)

  • Completion of raised beds in main garden area – long beans, bush beans, mustard, radish, morning glory
  • Cleared slope and planted 5-10 pumpkin clusters
  • Cleared bottoms (wet area) and began work on raised beds
  • Gourd trellis constructed beside teachers boarding house
  • IMO fertilizers finished, in use
  • Insect repellant finished, in use
  • Ash pile made for phosphorus to be used as soil amendment
Multi-cropped (mixing more than one vegetable) garden beds made of bamboo at Love and Care School

2. Parami School (a school partially supervised by Help Without Frontiers, Parami has over 500 students, grades nursery - 9.  Great teachers, great students and great motivation!) 

  • Completion of raised beds in four different areas – close to cafeteria, in front of kitchen, student work area well behind the school, and beside the school (near the football field)
  • Great success thus far with cucumber, radish, morning glory, gourds, bush beans. Insects not a huge problem yet
  • IMO fertilizers completed, in use
  • Insecticide completed, in use
  • Compost building #1 built and completed. Building #2 under construction, nearly finished.

3. Hsa Mu Htaw School (a migrant school serving nearly 300 children in nursery to Grade 6 classes. Home to KLDF Montessori as well as Garden projects.)

  • Small urban gardening setups expanded to front of main school building, front and sides of Montessori building.

4. Min Ma Haw School (a post-high school education program in Mae Sot. Students have an English immersion program and prepare for future study and/or careers here.)

  • Prepped for start of project on December 3rd. Bought/delivered supplies, tools and raised bed construction materials to the school garden area.

Pig Project

1. Thoo Mwe Khee School (Supported by Spinning Top, Thoo Mwe Khee serves over 600 students and has classes from nursery to post-high school. Mostly of Karen ethnicity with some Burmese children as well.  They have some great vocational projects here, inlusing weaving, gardening and the KLDF pig project.)

  • Pigs gaining weight (save for 2) since feed regimen has changed to more protein base.
  • Student group beginning work on IMO fertilizers Round 2
A fresh compost bed and pigs at Thoo Mwe Khee school

 2. Research of Pig Diet

  • Worked with Mae Jo University in Chiang Mai to find a base recipe for pig feed, which is very simple and contains only three ingredients (rice bran, FBS, fermented soy cake)
  • Making research plan for testing the use of chicken manure to increase protein in Banana stalk. Trials and analysis of two samples will be conducted at Mae Jo University in Chiang Mai

Financial Literacy Program

Ko Lynn and Mark visited the Cattle Yard migrant community to speak with both the Karen and Muslim group leaders. It appears as if we should be able to run small trainings in January with both ethnicities.

We also did some final planning and scheduling for the TOT training week at Wide Horizons school, will take place from 7-11 January 2013 with a preliminary Khom Loy introduction day on December 11th of this year.


-Mark and Win Ko held quarterly progress meeting with Catherine from Global Border Studies (GBS) in early November, in regards to Win Ko’s internship at Khom Loy.  Thanks Catherine!

-Since our existing system to record garden yields had not been working very well, Ko Lynn designed a new school-by-school bookkeeping system that is in effect now. 

-On a more exciting note, Win Ko and Ko Lynn were able to acquire their international passports during the month of November. Special thanks to Nick and Marie Cragg from PHASE International, who sponsored our two motivated guys and made this happen!

December Plans

  • Wrap up garden work at Hsa Mu Htaw à transition to 2nd round
  • Continue garden work at Parami àtransition to school ownership (ahead of schedule!)
  • Continue garden work at Love and Care
  • Begin garden project at Min Ma Haw
  • Plan for garden project at TPC teacher training center
  • Push to finalize pig feed research and analysis
  • Continue schedule at Thoo Mwe Khee pig project
  • Assist Good Morning School (BMWEC) with IMO production for their pig project
  • Visitors
    • Paul + Patricia + visitors

Monday, November 12, 2012

October Project Update

October Project Update

 The cold air is beginning to show up in Mae Sot!  Here is an update of what we worked on in October during those chilly mornings:

Myawaddy Survey

In early October Paul, Mark, Win Ko and Ko Lynn conducted a survey of Myawaddy township in Karen State, Burma.  This is the border town directly across the river from Mae Sot, Thailand.

In addition, the Mae Sot team has been making frequent visits to Myawaddy in order to research various subjects: early childhood projects, income and wages, product availability, and market prices for construction supplies, agricultural inputs, and agricultural products.

Check out pictures of our visit at our Facebook page here.

Special Thanks to visitor Brian Lyndon for the photos! 
Visiting a small nursery in Myawaddy township, Karen State, Burma
Garden Projects

With rainy season winding down, we were able to transition two existing projects, Heavenly Home and Dominican orphanges, into independent management for their garden projects.  We will still support them with seeds and technical advice for subsequent rounds.

Cold season has us focusing on four different schools: Parami, Love and Care, Min Ma Haw, and Hsa Mu Htaw.  The latter school has a very interesting urban gardening setup, thanks to the research of our Agricultural Officer Win Ko.  There will be a post later this month with more details.
Students making organic fertilizer for the urban garden at Hsa Mu Htaw School
Pig Projects

As of the end of October, the FBS pig projects at Hway Ka Loke and Thoo Mwe Khee migrant schools have resulted in 26 pigs reaching target weight and being sold for an average of 5,500 Thai Baht ($180 USD) per pig! Another 23 pigs are in the process of being raised, and three have died overall.

We will continue these projects into the cold season, and also have a plan for collaborating with other organizations in order to set up a training center for participants from Karen State, Burma.


Brian Lyndon (Visitor)
Paul Hancock (KLDF Director)
Radri Chaichumpa (KLDF President)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Rain is Gone -- October 2012 Program Update

Urban gardening uses a small amount of space to create a lot of value!

Now that October has arrived, Khom Loy's projects in Mae Sot have been at full capacity and more!  Some items on the list include: continuing current school garden programs, starting a round of new garden schools, improving the capacity of our pig projects and beginning a new ambitious program of surveying communities on the Burmese side of the border.

School Garden Programs
After a volatile and unpredictable rainy season, we will be continuing work at Hsa Mu Htaw and Holy Infant Orphanage schools, to ensure that some final touches are implemented to keep the schools going strong into the future.  In addition, we will be helping Heavenly Home school transition to become an independent project during their second round of growing.

Semester break for Burmese migrant schools in Mae Sot takes place in late October.  This gives us a great opportunity to launch our new round of garden schools, including Parami and Love & Care. A third school, Min Ma Haw, will begin work in December, and a final school to be determined will begin work in January.  Keep an eye open for updates on any and all of these schools in the near future!

An overhead trellis for vine vegetables at Hsa Mu Htaw school

Pig Project/Integrated Farming Projects
Now working with two schools (Hway Ka Loke and Thoo Mwe Khee), the pig project is picking up steam.  In addition to completing a "How-To" process manual in both English and Burmese, we have also been able to access valuable research from Mae Jo University, a major actor in researching and implementing pig projects that use fermented banana stalk (FBS) as a low-cost feed input.  With this added knowledge, we have an improved feed system for our pigs.

New round of mixed-breed pigs at Hway Ka Loke school

Surveying Communities in Burma (Myanmar)
Given the ongoing political and developmental changes in Burma, we are looking into border areas that would serve as focal points for expanding the spread of agricultural techniques and knowledge, and where larger development programs may not be able to reach right away. 

That's why we've started a survey program to learn more about Burmese and Karen communities bordering Tak province, Thailand.  We have a goal of building relationships with at least 20 of these communities by the end of December.

So if you're interested in learning more about things like vertical gardening, low-cost agriculture and a country that is slowly opening itself up to the world, then this journal is the place for you.  Also, feel free to be a part of KLDF's projects by clicking "Make A Donation" at the top right corner of the page. Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wall Gardening Using Plastic Bottles

By Win Ko, UPLift Agriculture Officer

This video is about bottle wall gardening. It is a very cool method for the people who do not have enough space to grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers. KLDF is currently working with urban migrant schools in Mae Sot, Thailand to set up wall gardening projects for nutritional purposes. Enjoy!

Returning to the Landfill community with a Lot of Fun

By Ko Lynn, UPLift Program & Communications Officer

No "I" in "Team"

The Project Inspire program for women's empowerment with UN Women and Mastercard is still yielding results for Burmese migrant women in Mae Sot, Thailand. Due to this, UPLift held a follow-up workshop with motivated women in the community.

On Saturday, July 21st we held a workshop with ten motivated women at the landfill community that especially dealt with improving life skills. The workshop topic, Teamwork, is closely related to communication and responsibility because the individual actions will always affect the others around you. Working with others can make tasks easier, and teamwork can help solving problems by providing different perspectives and different ideas for the landfill women.

After the workshop we had some activities that directly related to the real lives of the women. It was really useful for the women and their daily lives because they all have to work the same type of job and they are likely to be a team.

Women participated in a teamwork activity called "Acid Ocean".
Because of the workshop, women could understand concepts of effective teamwork and be able to work together with different people. Even though most of the women who attended the workshop are illiterate, they felt pretty smart and capable to learn new things. They believe that the training would be able to empower the women who live in the landfill to be independent.
Although we have ended Project Inspire program, we have done a workshop with the motivated women again, and I felt very happy to spend my time with them. I will often visit the landfill and share as much as I can with them. As a Khom Loy UPLift staff I am willing to work with these women in the future.

Monday, July 9, 2012

UPLift and Project Inspire, Finishing Things Up...

As you've read in previous posts, UPLift had the delight of working together with UN Women and Mastercard on Project Inspire, a program designed to improve social entrepreneurship and women's empowerment around the world.  As the winner of the 2011 Best Financial Literacy Project Award, UPlift has spent much of the past year researching, planning and implementing a great project that works with the female residents of a landfill community near Mae Sot, Thailand.

Thanks to UN Women's project grant of USD $10,000, we were able to train a group of young CBO staff from Burma on financial literacy, give them the tools and skills to be trainers themselves, and then set off on a series of basic financial literacy trainings for a group of over 60 women.  The results were fantastic: women now have realistic and achievable savings goals, they use household budgeting to control their lives, and their dreams of moving on into the future can be fulfilled. 

In addition, the grant allowed UPLift to hire a new staff member, Ko Lynn, to join us on delivering innovative and exciting programs for migrant women in and around Mae Sot.  He has blown new wind into our sails by pressing for further women's empowerment projects with new migrant communities in Mae Sot.  Using both the positive experiences and lessons learned from dealing with challenges at the landfill, we have now wound down the official Project Inspire program as expected but are indeed planning and fundraising for another year of spreading capacity, sharing experiences and proving that giving more power to women (both fiscally and in society) is one of the greatest ways to end extreme poverty.

Camilla (left), visiting the UPLift team at Wide Horizons Project Management School in February.

We wish to give a warm THANK YOU to U.N. Women Singapore for the grant they have provided us and the time spent working together.  It has been a fantastic collaboration, and we are looking forward to continue making a difference for women in the future.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Integrated Farming Project at Thoo Mwe Khee School

Students taking an active hand in planning the first portion of the project!

UPLift staff had a great time at Thoo Mwe Khee migrant learning center from June 7- June 10 working on an exciting expansion of the natural farming pig project!  With a strong first visit, we are looking forward to the second round of activities at the end of June. (To see full photo album, please click here.)

Thoo Mwe Khee is a primarily ethnic Karen school on the Thai/Burmese border in Tak province, Thailand.  It is home to over 500 students in total, with an estimated 300 students boarding on the compound during the school year.  With support from Spinning Top, a great organization that focuses on effective methods for helping migrants and refugees on the border, the school has put together a fantastic garden program.  With the incoming pig project, they will soon have tons (literally) of compost for use inside of the school itself!

Win Ko, our Agricultral Officer, teaching basic lessons on IMO to the grade-12 students at TMK school

We helped the grade-12 students with three main objectives during our visit: planning and implementing a banana planting project on the school grounds, making eight different kinds of organic fertilizers (or IMOs) for use in the project, and also getting a good start on building the pig litter.

Choosing and transplanting "gluay nam wah" banana trees onto the school grounds from the surrounding forest

The students are motivated, smart and very capable at these types of activities!  They are also not shy to ask questions and have their voices heard.  Throughout ther visit we were able to share a lot of fun times together, and I can't wait to return again!

Stay tuned for our next visit, which coincides with the pigs arriving! :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New Pig Projects for 2012

The new expanded agriculture area at Hway Ka Loke School

After a successful pilot project that measured the usefulness of fermented banana stalk (FBS) as a pig feed, Khom Loy has had several new project ideas in mind.  We are now working hard to turn these ideas into reality in 2012:

Hway Ka Loke--Project Expansion
After the before-noted pilot, Hway Ka Loke school has expanded their work by building a new complex of agricultural buildings.  This new ag area, which can be seen in this photo album, includes three larger pig pens, a duck-rearing pen, a chicken coop used for egg hatching, a larger work area for making fertilizers and banana food, and a new integrated garden that includes both banana plants and crops usable at the school.

We are excited to continue support of this project in 2012 by testing FBS as a feed for the chickens and ducks, as well as supporting Hway Ka Loke as it transistions its pig-rearing project to a larger scale with the intent to sell finished pigs to Mae Tao Clinic for its food program.

Thoo Mwe Khee--New School Project
Thanks to generous support from Spinning Top, we are working with Thoo Mwe Khee school in Phop Phra, Thailand to begin their own FBS project.  Thoo Mwe Khee is a large Karen school and boarding house that has great education and extracirricular programs for its students.  Last year, Spinning Top worked with the school to launch a fantastic garden program that produced an estimated 5,000 kilograms of yield for its boarding house student meals! 

This is where the FBS pig project and its excellent compost production comes into relevance.  With both pigs (increased protein for students) and compost (improved vegetable yield for students) in mind, Khom Loy is looking forward to spending time with staff and students at Thoo Mwe Khee over the next year.

Nu Poe Refugee Camp--New Community Project
We are also soon to begin collaboration with organizations inside of Nu Poe refugee camp in Umphang, Thailand.  After introductions and discussion with camp leaders, organizations and community members in late May, we will then begin to work on a best-case plan that benefits both the camp members as well as the surrounding Thai communities through the use of FBS pig-rearing, integrated farming and agroforestry topics.

Training System--New Training Project
Finally, we are fine-tuning a training format that can be used directly with community members/adults from both sides of the border.  The ideal format would be simple, use pictures/media, and cover the entire process of raising pigs using FBS, as well as solutions for eliminating very common constraints like flooding, disease and high levels of risk.

Fertilizer Training at Holy Infant Orphanage!

Stopping for a pose after everything was wrapped up!

On Saturday, May 18th Khom Loy staff travelled to Holy Infant Orphanage, a Catholic-run boarding house and school in Mae Sot, Thailand.  Together with several staff members and students we ran an indigenous microorganism (IMO) workshop that gave students the experience and skills to make cheap, effective and safe fertilizers for their new garden.

IMOs all involve the process of microbial fermentation using a number of agents, including sugar, salt and rice-rinsing water.  They are made with materials that are usually cheap and easy to find in the local environment, which dramatically reduces the costs of gardening when compared to using chemical fertilizers.

When made successfully, these IMOs provide useful things like lactic acid bacteria, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and benefical spores to soil, so that vegetables can grow strong and provide great results.  The overall philosophy behind using IMOs is that one should manage the soil first and foremost, not manage the plants themselves.

Check out our photo album with many pictures from the training, or see a few examples below!

Working on the ingredients for fermented plant juice (FPJ) and fermented fruit juice (FFJ)

Nothing says Christmas like organic fertilizer with tinsel used as rope!

A Dominican sister next to Holy Infant's newest patch of garden!

Friday, May 4, 2012

New Staff--Update

We at Khom Loy are happy to welcome the newest members of our team: Win Ko and Ko Lynn.
Win Ko (left) and Ko Lynn, two talented guys on the Thai/Burma border.

Win Ko is attending Global Border Studies, which is a three-year intensive learning program that gives refugee and migrant young adults the skills and abilities to be leaders in their communities and organizations.  Win Ko has a knack for agriculture: he has helped run several intiatives in a refugee camp for growing trees, creating agricultural manuals for schools, and running a soil and effective microorganism training in Karen State, Burma.  He will be responsible for working on (and learning from) animal rearing and agricultural projects while he is interning with Khom Loy for the next year, as well as facilitating agricultural network meetings.

Ko Lynn is a recent graduate of Wide Horizons project management school in Mae Sot.  He is a great trainer and facilitator, as we were lucky enough to observe while he was a financial literacy trainer for women on the Mae Sot landfill as part of Project Inspire.  Ko Lynn will be responsible for program/communications work on the garden project, the pig project, and the small business grant portion of Project Inspire.

So here's to a great rest of the year!  We are excited to have a good core team in place, which will continue empowering Burmese migrants as well as provide new learning opportunities for the team members themselves.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Happy Song Kran

It is April, which in Thailand means only one thing: Song Kran!  The Buddhist New Year in Southeast Asia involves festivals, paying respect to elders, and day after day of water fights.  Being the hottest part of the year, the latter is a great way to stay cool.

Source: Bangkok Post

Now that the splashing and relaxing is finished, we here at UPLift are happy to announce that Ko Lin, previously a Wide Horizons project management student, is starting work with us here in Mae Sot.  Ko Lin also served as a financial literacy trainer with women on the landfill as part of our Project Inspire grant activities, so he has a great deal of experience and know-how for the program.

Ko Lin, the newest member of the UPLift team

During April we will be speaking to the women on the landfill again about their future plans and goals, as well as beginning the process of translating the finance modules fully into Burmese.

Finally, we are looking forward to helping a CBO of ethnic Palaung members conduct their own financial literacy training for their staff.  This initial training is in preparation for future trainings inside of Shan State, Burma.

Monday, February 13, 2012

January Monthly Report

Khom Loy Development Foundation    

UPLift Project

January Monthly Report- 2012 

Pig Project

This pilot project uses natural farming techniques that significantly lower the costs of animal rearing, by using fermented banana stalk as feed and using other fermented inputs that improve health and digestion, particularly nutritional intake.

January was full of surprises for the pig project.  We purchased and began rearing a second round of black pigs, in an attempt to test the effectiveness of a 100% diet of fermented banana stalk (FBS).  This will give us a good comparison to the first round of pigs, which are being fed on a 100-day high-protein diet.  After only three weeks, the new pigs had grown rapidly, and are still going strong!  We are very excited by this development, as FBS is 1/30th the cost of store feed and can be a great option for schools or communities that do not have high budgets for animal rearing.  We will continue to track the growth of the pigs to see if there are other factors involved.

School Garden Program

It will be recalled that this program started in 2010 with 2 pilot schools, and we are now rolling the program out to another 4 schools with the aid of funding from Vitol/Thai Children’s Trust.

We have four different updates for the Garden Program:

Shwe Tha Zin School—has finished it’s third month of the garden project, with very good results.  We will now compile the results of the vegetable yield and speak with the principal/staff about their next round of activities.  If possible, we want to provide a stipend for seeds and a second batch of indigeneous mircroorganisms (IMOs), which are essentially cheap and effective fertilizers and soil enhancers that are made by fermenting various local materials.

Hsa Mu Htaw School—is helping us to test a new type of garden project that involves urban gardening.  This project, if proven to be successful, can help schools in villages/towns to use their creativity and available strengths to produce large amounts of vegetables.  Some techniques include container planting, village brush collection for a school compost pit, IMO production, and efficient water usage.

Heavenly Home Orphanage—agreed to begin a small-scale garden project.  Home to 39 parentless or disabled children, Heavenly Home has very few existing supporters for food budget, outside of Mae Tao Clinic and Room To Grow Foundation.  With a functional garden, the students and children here will have much more to eat in the future.

Dominican Orphanage (Holy Infant)—agreed to begin a large-scale garden project.  Run by a group of Dominican nuns, and formerly in Umphiem refugee camp, this boarding house has a very big and modern home.  However, the funders who helped cover the house costs cannot help with running costs for food.  With a new 18-inch layer of topsoil to prevent the risk of flooding during rainy season, the staff and students at Dominican are ready and excited to start a garden.  This will be a particularly interesting project, given that the students want to be fully involved (each student will have his/her own plot to manage and grow).

Project Inspire Landfill Project

Project Inspire, a women’s empowerment program founded by UN Women and Mastercard, recently awarded Khom Loy Foundation and Room To Grow Foundation a financial literacy project grant to continue their existing success in assisting women living in a landfill community near Mae Sot, Thailand.

Project Inspire really took off during January—we began by giving a refresh training course to the Wide Horizons students who are serving as trainers for women on the landfill.  After adapting their existing experiences with the training from English to Burmese, the students then split into five groups, introduced the program to women in five different locations on the landfill, and began training!  As of the end of January, three trainings have been completed (Market Session, Money Beliefs and Goals, Savings Plans) with two more to go in February.


Global Border Studies (GBS), an advanced education school located in Nu Po refugee camp, were able to come and visit the pig project at Hway Ka Loke.  They are currently learning about practical coursework for environmental sustainability and development work, so we were very happy to see them, hear their well-thought out questions, and spend time with them.  For more information on GBS, please visit http://www.dkit.ie/globalborderstudies/ .

The Wide Horizons students, currently helping with Project Inspire, also visited the pig project after showing much interest in this type of project.  Upon graduating from their studies, several students have asked to learn more about the project, especially fermented banana stalk (FBS).


Our agricultural field officer, Kaw Maw Thaw, decided to part ways with Khom Loy in order to pursue his goal of going back to participate in development on the Burmese side of the border.  Best of luck, Kaw Maw Thaw!

Next Month’s Activities

  • Finishing financial literacy trainings at landfill, then moving to the next phase of Project Inspire (identifying and working with exceptional women to begin their own small businesses)
  • Hosting a visit by Thai Children’s Trust, the generous funding provider for the garden program
  • Starting work on the three new garden projects and winding down activities at Shwe Tha Zin
  • Continuing work and evaluation of pig project at Hway Ka Loke
  • Hosting a visit by members of the Project Inspire team in Singapore

Monday, January 9, 2012

December Monthly Report

Khom Loy Development Foundation
UPLift Project
December Monthly Report- 2011

Pig Project
This pilot project uses natural farming techniques that significantly lower the costs of animal rearing, by using fermented banana stalk as feed and using other fermented inputs that improve health and digestion, particularly nutritional intake.
As seen in our last monthly report, we have been raising five pigs on a 100 day, high-protein feed schedule intended to result in a sales weight of 90-100kg for most breeds of pigs.  We are two months into the system and have made great progress.  This first group of pigs is healthy, energetic and active.
At the very end of the month, we purchased another five pigs from the same source in order to test a different feed regimen—one that uses only 100% fermented banana stalk and other natural inputs, while using no store-bought feed.
Mixed breed pigs living on a high-protein diet

School Garden Program
It will be recalled that this program started in 2010 with 2 pilot schools, and we are now rolling the program out to another 4 schools with the aid of funding from Vitol/Thai Children’s Trust.
Our first school of this round, Shwe Tar Zin, began in late October and has made great progress thus far.  Their larger yields are beginning to emerge, including some great red potatoes and morning glory.
Heavenly Home, a nearby orphanage in Mae Pa, had previously been surveyed and agreed to work on a plan of improving their soil before beginning a full-scale vegetable project.  To help with this plan we helped staff set up black bean seedlings in the hope of transplanting into the now-barren soil.  With some compost mixed in, we hope that a round of black beans will marginally improve the soil; in mid-2012 we plan to bring more dirt as well when planning a full project.
We also visited Hsa Mu Htaw school and discussed a new type of project—Urban Gardening.  Using space-saving techniques, improved water usage, clever methods of making inputs and high levels of interest by its students and staff, Hsa Mu Htaw will put the belief that inner city schools cannot run a sustainable garden project to the test.
A challenge occurred when we learned that Nya Li Ah Ta and Maw Thaw Lu, two migrant learning centers located in very remote areas, experienced some setbacks for beginning their projects.  We are hoping to set up garden projects at both schools before rainy season.
Finally, we surveyed 4 additional school: Ah Yone Oo, Irrawaddy Flower Garden, New Blood (second visit), and Kwae Ga Bawng.
Great job by Shwe Tar Zin migrant school in planning and implementing their own garden!
Project Inspire Landfill Project
Project Inspire, a women’s empowerment program founded by UN Women and Mastercard, recently awarded Khom Loy Foundation and Room To Grow Foundation a financial literacy project grant to continue their existing success in assisting women living in a landfill community near Mae Sot, Thailand.
December was a relatively relaxed month for the project, as our main training partner, Wide Horizons project management school, had an extended holiday.  However, we were able to use feedback and observations from Wide Horizon’s previous mock training in November to revise and update our modules to what we consider “complete”.
In addition, we continued providing school fruit and milk support to Sky Blue school, which is nearby the landfill.  This support, in tandem with increased income for women after receiving financial literacy training, is intended to increase school enrollment for an estimated 15 young girls who currently cannot attend school.

Mark visited a Natural Farming lecture at Mae Jo University in Chiang Mai province, where he received a lot of review information on techniques for making fermented agricultural inputs, as well as new information on how to make deep litters for pig pens.  Special thanks to Lawson LeGore, an American writing his thesis on fermented banana stalk in Chiang Mai, for introducing us to the Mae Jo lecture and sharing a great deal of useful information about natural farming.    

Pat (Spinning Top New Zealand) dropped by the KLDF Mae Sot office to discuss agriculture activities as well as organizational goals with Mark.  Thanks for the visit!
Paul Hancock (KLDF)
KLDF Montessori Staff (Khun Ratri, Damaris, Nin, Lee, Diyanti, Bern, San)
Krio Hirundo Onus – an Italian organization working with families relocated from the landfill found us to speak about income generating agriculture projects, especially raising pigs.  We look forward to learning more about what they do and provide knowledge/training materials if possible.  Their website is http://kriohirundo.webnode.it  .

Opening of KLDF Mae Sot office
Implementation of a new staff evaluation system
Revised Project Inspire Financial Literacy modules to a finished product
Moved forward with garden activities despite unexpected delays
Paul and Mark developed a new vision for the pig rearing project based on schools that can each provide individual services or products for a larger network of schools, which in essence replicates a supply chain.
Discussion w/ BMWEC migrant school organization per school gardens
Next Month’s Activities
Arrange a brainstorming session to discuss strategies for addressing 2012 funding cuts in the donor community for boarding house schools in the Mae Sot Burmese migrant school system
Launch the first agriculture network meeting of 2012 for interested migrant schools
Work with Wide Horizon students to finalize the Burmese language financial literacy modules for delivery on the landfill
Survey the landfill community and choose 5 locations for the financial literacy trainings
Begin implementing Project Inspire on the landfill!
Discussing the idea of a low-cost chicken rearing project at Hway Ka Loke school
Begin work on an “Urban Gardening” pilot project at Hsa Mu Htaw school upon completion of KLDF Montessori training there
Preparing Heavenly Home orphanage for an eventual garden project (Soil Addition, Black Bean Planting)
Meet with BMWEC staff about garden programs at their schools in 2012
Coordinating with Holy Infant Orphanage on finding a source of soil to preserve garden activities during rainy season (they had flooding problems last season)
Visit Kwae Ga Bawng school’s new land to determine suitability for a garden project
Visit Partners Relief and Development management staff to discuss their agriculture activities in Mae Sot, as well as possible ways to collaborate in future
Visit Help Without Frontiers (HWF) Mae Sot office to speak about their food program, learn about how they support schools

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy 2012! The past year at UPLift/The World In Microfinance

A belated Happy New Year to all of you from the UPLift staff!

2011 has come and passed, and with it a lot of new ideas, work and projects for UPLift in Mae Sot:

In addition to expanding the school garden program, we also learned about aspects of Natural Farming, especially the use of fermented banana stalk (FBS) and other fermented feeds to cut the costs of animal rearing dramatically.  We were able to start a pilot project rearing pigs at Hway Ka Loke school in Mae Sot, which is going strong and set to finish in early 2012.

Finally, we teamed up with Room To Grow Foundation to enter the Project Inspire competition with a goal of improving women's empowerment and financial literacy for a nearby landfill community in Mae Sot.  Using our creativity and existing experience with the community, we successfully secured a USD$10,000 grant at the competition, courtesy of UN Women Singapore and Mastercard.

Going into 2012 we look forward to continuing our efforts to empower migrants and refugees on the Thai/Burmese border regardless of ethnicity, religion or gender.  We will keep you updated with more posts, pictures, and videos throughout the new year.

To close, this story from BRAC Bangladesh highlights several worldwide changes of attitude towards working with the "ultra-poor" by using small grants and skills trainings, as UPLift does.