Since I started co-operating small group nature, cultural, adventure and technical trips in remote parts of Thailand and Laos in 2000, we have been contributing to the local communities in the mountain villages. We have done clean water supply, hygiene and health, and basic educational projects in small scale. We have built basic yet healthy toilets, donated books, papers, pencils, erasers, rulers, text books, and health related books to the schools and villages. Besides we have created communication and understanding between different cultures (local host communities and foreign visitors).
Later, our support to the rural communities became a separate activities. They are done along with the trips, and also separate from the trips.
We go back to the relatively poor villages time by time to hand our suppor for them to become self sufficient in the long term.
Benefits to the remote mountain villages
We use local peoples as guides, trail readers, and trip leaders. We learn a lot from them, and they also learn some useful knowledge from us.
Transport, accommodation, food and other materials
We buy foods from the villages wherever possible; we stay in the village huts; we use elephant, boat, local tractor, etc. for transport when necessary.
Cross cultural communication
Both the visitors and local peoples get to know each other. They talk (ask and answer) each other through the translation.
The differences in the life style and way of living are exchanged in conversation and understanding between the two cultures is created.
Health and education
We make donations in small amount for constructing water supply, clean and healthy toilets, buy books and other educational materials.
The places where we have done our small scale community projects include:
- Hilltribe villages in Sangklaburi, Uthai Thani, Umphang of Tak, Mae Hong Son in Thailand
- Hilltribe villages along the Mekong river in northern Laos
Still there are many such villages and communities where peoples are living under poor living standards. Therefore we are not going to stop our activities.
As well it is important that these villages must, sooner or later, become self sufficient. The projects of upgrading their living must also be not like forcing them to change the way they live. Involvement of these local peoples in the projects is thus very important. Good understanding and proper communication must be created in the first place.
Project leader and project workers should also be selected from among the same tribal community for which the project is set, if possible.
Books we sent as donation to Mae Hong Son public library on my recent trip (Jan 2010)
Below photos might tell you what is the life like in the rural mountain villages of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos. These photos were taken in the tribal villages. Their lives are simple; they used to be in good harmony with the nature. With the development of the low land areas and spread of communication and cultures the lives in these villages have also changed. These changes have not always been for the benefit of peoples and environment as a whole. To know more about what we are doing and how you can help please contact trekthailand (dot) net (at) gmail (dot) com
Primary school in a Karen village in Sangklaburi (Thailand)
Cooking corner in a farm hut in a Karen village in Sangklaburi (Thailand)
A Karen family (mother, father & two children) travelling in Umphang, Tak (Thailand)
A Karen village in Umphang, Tak (Thailand)
Kitchen, Karen village, Uthai Thani (Thailand)
Preparing dinner, Karen village, Uthai Thani (Thailand)
Water supply, Lisu village in Mae Hong Son (Thailand)
Lisu village in Mae Hong Son (Thailand)
Primary school in a village on Mekong river bank (northern Laos)
A village on Mekong river bank (northern Laos)