The Koung Jor Shan Refugee Camp is based north of Chiang Mai on the Thai-Burma border. After violence broke out between the Burmese military and the Shan State Army, the refugees fled into northern Thailand and formed the Camp in 2002. The Branch Foundation has actively worked with the Shan Refugee Camp since 2009, supporting their commitment to sustainable community development.
Click here to read the stories from some of the residents who had to flee.
The Shan Refugee Camp has always made educating the youth in the community priority. In order to help facilitate the schooling of the 206 Shan children, The Branch Foundation launched an Education Project based at the Camp. Through this project, we provide stipends for the Computer Teacher and Project Coordinator, school uniforms for the students, and educational materials. Additionally, we also facilitate volunteer teachers for the Camp.
To read more about our work with education at the Shan Refugee Camp, please visit our Education Project page (Empower Ethnic Burmese Refugees through Education) on GlobalGiving.
The Branch Foundation played a significant part in establishing the two Shan Refugee Camp weaving centers.
By selling their scarves, shawls and bags, these weaving centers have become one of the Shan Refugee Camp’s most successful sources of income. We provided the weavers with weaving looms, training in design, personalized marketing that tells the weavers unique stories, suppliers and general development mentoring.
Now that the centers are making a profit, we continue to serve in an advisory capacity, offering marketing for their products and connecting the weavers with various suppliers. This project is an ideal example of The Branch Foundation’s commitment to capacity building and non-aid reliance.
We have also demonstrated a focus on sustainable projects and renewable energy through notable projects at the Shan Refugee Camp. The Branch Foundation is currently supporting a pilot biogas project. This brainchild of Camp Headman Sai Leng provides a free and environmentally friendly source of cooking gas. Better yet, the rice husks used in the biogas process can feed local pigs or be compressed into a charcoal-like substance. Since the Camp is prohibited from using electricity outside of the communal areas from the main grid, we helped to ensure that the 600+ residents of the Camp received solar-lighting panels. Additionally, this project provided funding for one solar-powered computer in the Camp’s education center. The implementation of this solar-panel project effectively made the Koung Jor Refugee Camp the first solar-powered refugee camp in the world!
To read more about The Branch Foundation’s solar panel project, please visit our project page on GlobalGiving.
The Branch Foundation has continually provided funding and resources for enterprise development projects at the Shan Refugee Camp. In 2012, we supplied the Camp with mushroom spores in collaboration with JRS so that they could create a mushroom farm. This mushroom farm pilot project served a two-fold purpose. By growing the spores, the Camps members were not only providing themselves with a source of food, but they could also generate income by selling the mushrooms.
Poverty and Welfare Relief
The Branch Foundation previously focused on addressing the basic needs of the Shan Refugee Camp members. We provided food aid and latrines and other general hygiene products. We also covered the essential living costs of the most vulnerable, elderly members of the community, particularly those with no familial support. As of early 2012, The Branch Foundation has begun phasing out these projects and focusing heavily on those that are more sustainable for the community.