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.

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.