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, December 12, 2014

End of rainy season and beginning of cool season activities

Natural Farming Animal Rearing Training Program

On October 7 and 8, Uplift team held another round of a full day training on the Natural Farming Pigs and Chicken Rearing (NFPR & NFCR) at the Grace Garden training center, just meters from Karen State in Burma.. The training was organized by the nonprofit Border Green Energy Team (BGET/ www.bget.org). There were 40 participants in the trainingincluding10 American students from Where There Be Dragonsa gap year study abroad program, 23 students from Wide Horizons,a two-year program in Mae Sot focusing on community development, and the rest were BEGET volunteers.

The trainings included various topics such as synthesis of Fermented Banana Stalks (FBS), making Indigenous Microorganisms (IMOs), natural pigpen bedding and fillers/ filling process, pig pen and chicken coop building, and chicken fermented feed making. The students were very interested in the sustainable agriculture and animals rearing.  During the training, the students made some FBS and chicken ferment foods efficiently. They also built a natural pigpen by using our NFPR methods for Grace Garden pig rearing project. We were very pleased with the outcomes of trainings, therefore in December we will continue the same NFPR and NFCR training with BGET new interns and staffs. We are also looking for other NGOs and CBOs who are interested in natural farming animal rearing training. We are happy to share with our knowledge and skills to other organizations. 

UPLift team delivering NFPR/NFCR training at Grace Garden
WH students and some American students building pig pen

Collecting dry materials for filling pig pen 

Pig project
Two month ago, we successfully got new sow from Thai-Karen village. After several weeks, the new sow was bred with a male pig in order to make more piglets. Right now we have two sows rearing which can create more piglets in the future and reduce input costs. Our current piglets have been already fed with two different methods such as mixed feeds and fermented feeds. Our feeds ratios reach 30:70 currently for both mixed feeds and fermented feeds. 
new sow enjoying Natural bedding

A sow having green snacks (Morning Glory)

Piglets having natural foods

Based on these different methods, we are now monitoring both methods. So far, both methods have similar outcomes in term of their weight and overall improvement, however, the piglets more enjoyed feeding Fermented Banana Stalks (FBS) separately. Currently, all three pens were full with piglets and sows. One of the pens is filled with piglets and another two with sows. 

Financial Literacy Training and Small Business Program
After three weeks of Financial Literacy training, the UPlift team returned to the Hua Fai community in order to monitor and evaluate FL training outcomes.  The aim of this visit was to find out the participants’ ability to make and save more money. Most women completed their short-term saving goals by following the saving plans training in the FL program. An example of this program working is Ma San Aye who was a trainee in the financial literacy training program. She was able to reach her savings goal within a month so she could buy a bicycle.In 3 weeks, Team UPlift will return to begin "phase 2" of the financial literacy training: small business & further savings planning.

A trainee reaching her short term goal (buying bicycle)

UPLift team delivering Business Plans training at Hua Fai community

Small Business Training and Support:
A new endeavor for Khom Loy is offering small business development trainings and support for Migrant women.  Eligible women are "graduates" of our financial literacy training
and are those who show initiative and come up with a business plan. They work with our staff to understand the details and necessities of what it would take to make their plans come to fruition. Together we conduct market research, risk analysis, savings goals, book-keeping practice, and feasibility studies. Inevitably, some women have ideas that even when well thought out are not sustainable, but ideas are a start. There are about 4 ladies that have really taken off with their business plans. 
UPLift small business member making local snack with bean

UPLift small business member making local snack with bean

Last month, we were finally able to bring our training and efforts to life with a small capital loan to one woman who was making local bean snack. Along with this capital support, Khom Loy will visit her business once a week for 3 months to check on book-keeping, inventory, savings, and customer service.  A consensus was made on terms of use and responsibilities. At the time of the loan, everyone signed a contract which states that 50% of the initial loan value in Thai Baht will be paid back to Khom Loy in order to generate an ongoing fund for small business support. We are happy to share that bean snack business has made over 1000 Thai Bath in a week. Therefore, in December we continue working with another 3 small business members in order to setup their business plans. 

Chicken project
Irrawaddy school egg laying chicken project is successfully running under the school management. Last month, teachers and students made chicken feed together. Each student’s team made sure to be responsible for the daily chicken feeding and collecting eggs, and weekly making feed and spraying IMO into chicken coop. In the month of October, the school collected total 453 eggs which was an average of 15 eggs per day. 

Irrawaddy school chicken were healthy and keep laying eggs
HKL chicken coop was ready for chicken

Students and teachers building local chicken coop at HKL

In addition to current successful project, the team did some more schools assessments for future chicken projects. Based on our assessments, we found three motivated schools to work with us, Hway Ka Loke, ArrYoneOo and Love and Care. All these schools are home for a total of 200 children. In November, the team conducted another survey and made project agreement with Hway Ka Loke School. Students, teachers and the UPLift team setup a chicken coop at the HKL School. We will be delivering Natural Farming Chicken Rearing training in December with 30 HKL students. The 20 eggs laying chicken will arrive to the HKL School in December. 
 Additionally, the team will work with another two schools, ArrYoneOo and Love and Care in order to setup two more chicken coops. UPLift will deliver the NFCR training with all three schools in December.  

School garden program
In the months of October and November, the school garden program completed training with three migrant schools; New Wave, Sophia, and Elpis boarding house. New Wave school has total 160 students currently attending and is also home for 30 boarding students. At New Wave school, the team held 3 days of training with over 30 students and 2 teachers. At Sophia school there are 80 students attending the school.  There is a school lunch program which provides lunches to at least 30 children who could not afford to bring lunch to school. Elpis boarding house has over 50 children and all children participated in the school garden training.

Elpis students making bamboo raised beds

HWF container gardening

HWF Sack gardening

HKL Vertical gardening

New Wave students making bamboo raised beds

The school garden project training had several different sections including basic knowledge of ecosystems and agriculture, soil management, Natural Farming (use of natural micro-organisms (IMO) without chemical fertilizers) versus chemical fertilizer farming and compost making by using natural resources and waste from the schools kitchen. During the school garden training, New Wave students made 2 bamboo raised beds, 2 areas with sack gardening, and some vertical gardening.The Sophia school students worked together with UPLift team, and WH students to setup 5 bamboo raised beds and some vertical gardening. Finally, Elpis students and teachers completed setting up 4 bamboo raised beds and some sack gardening. 

Additionally, the UPlift team worked together with HWF students to collect the final IMOs liquid concentrated fertilizers for HWF garden. The students and teachers from HWF started spraying the IMOs liquid fertilizer into the garden beds. As a result after two week of spraying, the soil quality was completely changed by the IMOs liquid fertilizers. The students then began to transplanted some nursery plants into the bamboo raised beds. In December, the team will do some follow up activities with all 4 school share their success and challenges between these schools.

Waterfall village project
After rainy reason, the team visited to the Waterfall village in Karen state.  The aim of the visit was to observe and monitor current progress on the village school and school income generation project. The village school was running successfully. The school provided education for 57 students in the village. Three regular testing have been taken over the 6 months period. KLDF is helping with the school needs and running costs before they harvest corn crops. The corn growing project began earlier July this year. After 4 or 5 months of growing corn, most of the crops were ready for harvesting. In fact, one third of corn crops were harvested last month. After harvesting completed, the net profit from corn growing will provide for the village school running costs including local teacher salaries, hygiene supplies and school stationary. After the first phase of the project, the Village Committee will have meetings about phase two of the project which will begin in the cold season. 
Waterfall village school

KLDF team visiting to WVA school

UPLift small business member growing sesame crops

School corn project half-way harvesting

Another microcredit loan program in the village has had a successful outcome last month. The team UPLift provided small loan to the village women who were willing to grow some crops. Sesame lady was the first member of our microcredit loan program. She started planting sesame crops in August and now the sesame plants are almost ready to harvest.  She provided the 4 acres of land to grow the sesame crops and KLDF gave the loan to buy seeds and fertilizers. She mentioned that she is able to pay back the loan after harvesting sesame crops in December 2014. Based on the successful progress, the team UPlift will be doing more communities and villages survey in the cold season.