There is a constant struggle for Shan migrants and displaced persons along the Thai-Burma border to find paid work while caring for their families. As a result of work starting as early as 5am, parents do not have the time to prepare school lunches and young children are not capable of preparing meals by themselves. Meanwhile, the cost of buying a lunch on a daily basis is too expensive for many migrant families.
Unfortunately, the SWAN Foundation has been faced with reduced funding that has directly impacted the school lunch program for three of our six supported schools. Without school lunches many of these students will go an entire day with little food affecting their ability to concentrate and retain information - ultimately affecting their academic performance.
The SWAN Foundation aims to ensure all children attending SWAN supported schools are well nourished to reach their full potential. Therefore, we are seeking funds to support the cost of healthy school lunches for each student at two nursery schools and one primary school along the border. A standard lunch includes:
- A freshly prepared curry with vegetables and meat
- A bowl of rice
- A carton of milk
By donating to our cause, you are providing lunch to 333 students, consisting of 149 girls and 184 boys who greatly appreciate your act of kindness.
Who are the Shan people?
The Shan are an ethnic group from Shan State in Burma who share a similar appearance, language and traditions to northern Thailand as well as a border.
In 1994, the Burmese military led a widespread offensive against the ethnic Shan people, forcibly relocating thousands of people. Villagers were stripped of their land and livelihoods and relocated to urban areas where they were used for forced labour including construction and infrastructure projects to be used by the Burmese. The Shan people also endured torture, killings and sexual abuse at the hands of the military. It is estimated during this period over 300,000 Shan people fled into the jungle and crossed the Thai-Shan border becoming refugees.
Shan in Thailand.
Although the Shan fled discrimination in Burma they found themselves facing a different set of challenges across the border, as Thailand is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The country's leaders are still failing to uphold the dignity and protection of Shan asylum seekers. However, under Thailand’s own Constitution they have a right to protect, promote and fulfill all rights of people living in Thailand.
The lack of protection offered to the Shan can be seen in the types of work they can obtain, often considered as dirty, dangerous and demeaning. Majority of Shan migrants in Thailand earn daily wages through farming, construction and domestic work sectors. As the work is seasonal it forces families to continuously relocate, often to construction sights or dilapidated accommodation on plantations. As a result, the education of their children is interrupted due to location or security issues, leading to high drop-out rates.
The SWAN Foundation
The SWAN Foundation is a Thai-registered organisation and an affiliate of the Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN). A network of active women established along the Thai-Shan border in 1998, following the atrocities committed against the Shan by the Burmese military. The SWAN Foundation was officially established in 2011, to better respond to the needs of the displaced communities along the Thai-Shan border. Currently the Foundation, with the help of our existing donors, support six schools including three primary schools and three nursery schools in Piang Luang and Fang, an English evening class and a boarding house at the Koung Jor temporary camp.
Although the first fifteen years of education in Thailand has been declared free under the 2008 constitution, parents are required to pay for additional costs of uniforms, textbooks, transportation and senior education. In order to assist struggling migrant families afford these costs, the SWAN Foundation launched a scholarship program in 2016 that has seen 28 students graduate from tertiary-level studies. In 2018, the SWAN Foundation has awarded 174 scholarships to 118 girls and 56 boys. In 2018 alone, all of the education programs combined are supporting 1045 students made up of 501 girls and 544 boys.