How time flies! 2019 is coming to an end. It seems like yesterday when we toasted to a new year and made new resolutions. Did you stick to your resolutions? Don’t worry if you didn’t, very few people do. But do you know something you did that’s even more awesome? Supporting us and donating to help refugees in the Thai/Burma border. Were it not for your generous donations; we couldn’t have helped even half of the people we helped in 2019. Thanks to our generous donors, we changed several lives through different charity projects in the Thai/Burma border region. Let’s take a look at the major projects of 2019:
In January, the Echo International Aid family visited a small village that is home to 40 families. The people in that village are all stateless refugees with no working rights or social support. Their only means of earning a living is by harvesting rubber from the rubber trees around the village. They then sell the rubber for a paltry 20c a kilo, which isn’t even enough to buy the basics. The living conditions in the village are heartbreaking. When we arrived at the village, we knew we had to help them, especially since most families had small babies.
We aimed to provide enough food and soap to sustain the villagers for a few months, so we launched a campaign aiming to raise $1000. That was the amount we needed to buy food for the 40 families. Thanks to our donors, we raised the $1000 and delivered a truckload of food relief to the village, all in less than a week. We didn’t stop there. Since food is a recurring basic need, we have made a few more food drives and intend to keep doing so. We’d appreciate it if you helped us feed these downtrodden villagers. Please donate here to support our food relief effort
Emergency Medical Fund
As you may already know, stateless people living in the Thai Burma border have no access to primary healthcare. Without free healthcare and with basically no income, an illness might as well be a death sentence to these refugees. One such case was an older woman who needed specialized care. She was in hospital for three weeks, and her family couldn’t afford the specialized treatment needed to save her life. They were hopeless and dreading the fact that their grandma would die because they had no money.
When we got wind of the elderly woman’s plight, we asked our donors to help her, which they did. Our donors saved the woman’s life. She got the necessary treatment and was discharged to recover at home with routine check-ups. We visited her a month later and found her healthy and happy, thanks to the heroes that are our donors. The sole purpose of our emergency medical funds is to save lives, which is why we always encourage people to donate to it. You can also help us save a life by donating to our emergency medical fund here.
Ton Wai School Project
On December 29th, 2018, we published a blog post announcing our partnership with the GENESIS Network to help build a school in Ton Wai. The Thai Burma border region has an acute shortage of schools. Most children in the area have no idea what the inside of a classroom looks like. The lack of education and empowerment exposes these children to exploitation through child prostitution, slave labour, and human trafficking. The people of Ton Wai didn’t want their children to be exploited, so they took it upon themselves to build a school. However, they could only go so far with the limited resources they had. That’s when we partnered with the GENESIS Network to finish constructing the school with the help of our donors and volunteers from the community.
After several months of construction, the school was ready to take in its first batch of students in August. For many of the children, this was their first experience as students. The students study in the completed classrooms as we build the rest. Building the school wouldn’t have been possible without our generous donors, including the Australian Embassy in Bangkok, who donated $15,000. When completed, the Ton Wai school will help educate 300 children annually and empower the neighbouring communities against exploitation.
Echo Scholarship Program
Early this year, we published a blog post about Kong Dee, one of the beneficiaries of our scholarship program. We first met Kong Dee in 2013, a young, ambitious high school student from an impoverished family. His parents’ sole source of income was small scale farming, which only generated enough money to provide the bare minimum. Since meeting in 2013, we paid for Kong Dee’s university fees through our scholarship program until March of 2019 when he graduated. He swore to help empower his community and now teaches in one of the community schools
Kong Dee is not the only beneficiary of the Echo Scholarship Program. Early this year, we sent another student, Nong Piaw, to university. Thanks to our generous donors, Nong Piaw got a chance to further her studies and is excelling in school. She will soon be an outstanding member of society, ready to impart her knowledge to the people in her community.
Karen Cultural Project
Our latest project is a conservation effort for the Karen people. Over the years, the Karen people have dispersed across Asia and the rest of the world due to ethnic clashes in Myanmar. As a result of the instability and displacement, it’s been difficult for the Karen people to conserve their culture. Without their culture, the Karen people run the risk of losing their identity and values. We couldn’t stand by and watch as an entire community lost the only thing they had to hold them together.
We started organising cultural projects last year, with our first cultural project, attracting students from as far as Bangkok. Plans for this year’s cultural project are still underway as we continue receiving donations. If you would like to be a part of this cultural preservation project, please donate here.
What’re the 2020 plans for Echo International Aid?
Our goal for 2020 is to expand while still staying true to our mission. There’s still much work to be done in the Thai Burma border region since the number of refugees there keeps on growing. We are, however, confident that we will meet our charity goals, thanks to all our generous donors. They are the heroes in our story, and in the stories of all the refugees we help. Until we empower the stateless Karen people to the point of self-reliance, our work is far from over.