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.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Rainy season happenings

Basic Garden Training at TPC School

On July 1, 2014, team Uplift delivered basic garden theory and maintenance training to the 81 students currently studying at the Teacher Preparation College (TPC). The trainings were each led by a different trainer from KLDF team. Each UPLift member was responsible for delivering certain objectives. Mainly, UPLift team encouraged the students to use Natural Farming Methods for the TPC school garden.

UPLift team carrying out Natural Farming & Garden Training at the TPC

The training included different sections such as 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 school kitchen. In additional to that the UPlift team shared how to set up different planting crop layouts, such as container/recycled bottle gardening, sack gardening, vertical gardening, raised beds or traditional mounds and circle beds. Moreover, the UPlift team and the TPC teachers together worked on the school garden management plans for 2014-15 school years.  It included different responsibilities for garden care to the TPC students, broken into six groups each responsible for 1 area or 1 bed in the future.
Because it rained a lot this month, the TPC students will only do preparation and cleaning for the school garden areas. Depending on the TPC school schedules, after the rainy season each student’s group will start growing the vegetable by using Natural Farming method and compost making process. UPlift team member U Tin Yu will assist teacher Eh Ku order to make sure TPC students are taking care of the garden every week.

Economic Development for Burmese Migrant women

In one of the Migrant communities (Paseidan), 5 women are taking part on the UPlift Economic Development Program which helps women members set up small businesses in the community. There were a total of 5 women members, 4 of whom already started a small business in the last three months and one woman will start next month. 

UPLift officer receiving a loan repayment from one of the KLDF women Small Business members

This month, two of the women have already repaid 50% of the loans they received the first within 3 months. The first lady’s business involved buying a mobile phone which was used to make calls to and from Burma for people in the community. Another lady was selling goods to another remote migrant community such as coffee, onion, garlic, soap, shampoo, etc. She also has already met her goal to pay back the KLDF small business loan in this month. Both women are still doing their business as usual. KLDF team will do follow up every week for other small business members in order to use their business plan and keep the goal to be met in the future.

A woman member Cho San said that ‘’ I was really happy that I reached my goal within 3 months to payback my loan; I really appreciated KLDF staff who are sharing their knowledge and skills for me. I will keep running my business as usual by using the guideline and business plan from KLDF team. I also would like to expand my business in the future. Right now I have saved 2,000B extra money from my business.’’
Next month another business lady will pay back her loan to UPLift. The team will do the follow up every week and meet with these women and discuss any challenges and success from their small business.

Financial literacy training for rainy season
Moe Thu conducting a community survey for FL training at Hua Fai community

This month the UPlift team visited two new communities. The team aimed to conduct the community survey for four communities in the rainy season.  So this month, we have done the survey for two communities called Hua Fai community and Mojedin community. The purpose of the community surveys was to choose a community for the FL training in the rainy season.
This year, the UPLift team intends to do two rounds of FL training. The first round the UPLift team will deliver the FL training in the community which will be in the middle of the rainy season. For the second round, the UPLift team will collaborate with Wide Horizon School in order to deliver the FL training to a large community in December 2014. This coming month, the UPLift team will visit anther two new communities in Mae Sot area. Then the team will complete the community analysis for FL training.

Pig project
By the 3rd week of July 2014, our piglets were one month old already. They are still drinking milk from Mama Pig this month and they are really healthy. They enjoy the natural pigpen filling with manure, rice husk, and IMO fertilizers. This month we have carried out Health/Maintenance such as having vaccinations and castration for male piglets.

Piglets getting vaccinated by the KLDF farm manager and enjoying NF method bedding

Next month, all piglets will stop drink milking from Mama Pig and they will be divided to another pig pen. They will be introduced low-cost feeding systems, which will include 3-4 Kg of cracked rice and rice bran, along with green snacks and kitchen leftovers twice a day. As of now, the pigs are growing nicely.
Pig pen flooding
We have had rain for the last two weeks.Fortunately, the pigpen where the pigs are currently living was not affected by flooding—only minimally which we remedied quickly with extra bedding.  However, the other two pens did not fare as well.  The pen on the far end was affected the most with a huge amount of water retention and deterioration of the concrete walls.  To fix these issues, we need to purchase a water pump to drain the current “flood” in the pens and ensure this will not happen again in the future.

Chicken Pilot
In the first week of July, there was a feed diet changeto 90% fermented feed and 10% commercial. We tried feeding 90% of fermented banana which produced some challenges for us, not because of the fermented feed but because of the time that we fermented the feed. The school only fermented for one day and next day they fed to the chicken. As a result, some of our chicken stopped laying eggs. For example, out of 10 chickens only one chicken was laying eggs.  After that we found out the problem and we fermented the banana stem for at least 5 days and added some protein ingredients such as some cracked rice, rice bran as well as 10% commercial feed. Starting from that time, all the  chickens started to lay eggs again and the rate of laying eggs has increased. Now all the chickens are laying eggs every day. In August, we would like to test only 100% fermented without any commercial feed mixing into the batch. 

Irrawaddy students making fermented feed for chickens and collecting eggs for lunch

Group A
egg-laying rate = 77 eggs this month
Weight = 1.8kg average per chicken (Group A less than Group B 0.1 kg)
Healthy looking and regular eating habits

Group B
Egg-laying rate= 98 eggs this month
Weight = 1.9kg average per chicken
Healthy looking and regular eating habits

School Garden Update
In the month of July, the UPLift school garden program started doing school surveys and assessments. This year we have designed two different assessments, one for the schools where we previously worked and another for schools which wish to be considered for future garden programmes.

Garden visit at New Wave School and Sophia School for future possible school garden projects
He previous assessment included how the school gardens were running last year, and how they will continue for this year and the future. Based on their garden assessment, KLDF will be helping to improve their gardens. The purpose of the future garden assessment is to identify the schools that UPLift will work with this year to setup new school gardens.
This month we have done two previous garden school assessments (at Parami School and Heavenly Home School). One of the Parami school teachers mentioned that they have faced an insect problem in their current garden, which KLDF will resolve with a one day training to make natural insect repellants. They also needed some materials such as watering can, some seeds, and some compost. The second school had stopped running the school garden because they did not have land available for a school vegetable garden. The land in the school is narrow and has many rocks in and on the soil so the plants did not grow well. They would like to continue doing again next year after they move to another place which has more space and good fertile soil.

We also visited Parami School, a past garden project site. They have has some challenges with insects this year.

In July, we finished four school garden assessments for future projects. These are New Day, New Wave, Pyi Chit and Sophia school. The schools were very interested to setup vegetable gardens. Based on our assessments, most of the schools have enough space for school garden. They are interested in receivig Organic garden training. They also want to use a garden for their students’ nutrition and income generation project as well. They are also interested in animals rearing such as chicken (village& egg laying chicken) and pig rearing for the future.
Next month, our Agriculture Officer/Trainer, Sai Aung, will continue to do more school assessments - 8 more schools for previous garden assessments and 3 more schools for Future garden assessments. 

‘’Waterfall’’ Karen village school project
This project began earlier in the year when the UPLift team did some community assessments and surveys in order to implement the project in in the Karen state, just across the Moei  River from Thailand. UPLift is now helping to run the village primary school which has 57 children each year. In order to help the Waterfall village school, the village committee and UPLift team came up with some income generation project ideas which have a low risk and a high probability of success. After two or three time of meeting with village committee, they have proposed growing corn as a cash crop. Since the villagers had experience in growing corn every year, it should be easy for them. The project idea was for the net profit from corn growing to provide for village school running costs such as local teacher salaries, hygiene supplies and school stationary.
The KLDF team observing the 10 acres of corn planting in Waterfall Village
Village Committee presented a simple proposal for getting a loan from UPLift KLDF. It included how much they need for corn project setting up costs as well as how much could they make profit. The village committee agreed to provide the 10 acres of land to grow the corn for community income generation project. The project plan has two phases in a year, one in the rainy season and another will be in cold season. 

The school year began last month and children are in the school now

The profit from the community income generation will go towards the project outcome which can provide village school.  The loan agreement was set between WFV committee and UPLift, whereby the 100% loan will be paid back interest free within 5 years. This month, the corn project was started immediately to coincide with rainy season. The UPLift team and village committee will meet one month two times in order to discuss challenges and successes from the project.
UBS parents’ interview
The UBS Montessori Random Controlled Test was created to aim to monitor the effectiveness of the Khom Loy Montessori education program on student’s behaviors and thinking skills in Thai Government Schools and Burmese Migrant Schools. This month, we have done interviews with parents for their children’s information. Currently we have done six schools (Tha Ad, Wan Ta Kein, Mae Tao, Mae Tao Pae, Ka Pi Ban, Huway Mouang) with 93 parents and we left four schools to interview such as Mae Sot, Hua Fai, Mae Pa Nue, Ban Tan Suang. It was good to have conversation with children’ parents and it is good to meet with parents and listen to their stories. 

KLDF interviewed Parents at the Ban Tan Sua School

However, we still had some challenges. Most of the parents working for a living so it was difficult to get the parents to meet on time, and some parents were not able to come. To solve these issues, we we communicated with school teachers in order to get these parents’ mobile phone numbers, and if possible, we interviewed the parents by phone. If the parents had no mobile phone, the UBS interview team will follow visit the parents’ houses to do their interview.