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Bamboo School BIRD Project

School-Based Integrated Rural Development Project (BIRD)

Khun Mechai Viravaidya, the Population and Community Development Association (PDA), and the Bamboo School are assisting schools and communities to adopt many of the social enterprise and learning opportunities that have proven successful at the Bamboo School and now in many other schools around the country.  You may recall that information was included in a previous KRSD about Khun Mechai, the Bamboo School, and his PDA NGO for post-COS employment opportunities.  Most of you may have heard of Khun Mechai Viravaidya, and certainly nearly all Thais have. Khun Mechai led successful national campaigns for family planning and against HIV/AIDS.  He became affectionately known as the Condom King – you may know about his restaurant in Sukhamvit 12 Alley, Bangkok, Cabbages and Condoms.  Khun Mechai is now focusing on education and development initiatives and is interested in working again with Peace Corps Volunteers.  For more information on Khun Mechai, PDA and the Bamboo School, please see Mechaifoundation.org

PDA proposes to provide resources and technical assistance for schools and communities that are Volunteer assisted.  This PDA initiative, School-Based Integrated Rural Development (School-BIRD), currently assists an average of forty new schools per year to become Lifelong Learning Centers and hubs for social and economic advancement with strong participation from members of surrounding communities and the local government.  The overview below is for interested Volunteers to understand the program in order to bring it to the attention of your community and school leaders.  Please see the attached overview for more information about the Bamboo School and the School-BIRD project.  Feel free to contact Howard with any questions, or contact Khun Mechai or his assistant, Khun Isadore Reaud, directly (contact details below).

PDA Assistance to Peace Corps Volunteer-assisted Communities/Schools (23  Dec 2016)

The Population and Community Development Association (PDA), Thailand’s most established NGO, is assisting 83 schools-communities throughout Thailand in increasing food production and income generation, acquiring business skills, and creating social enterprises to provide sustainable access to credit and extend similar assistance to other students, community members, and neighboring communities.  This PDA initiative, School-Based Integrated Rural Development (School-BIRD), currently assists an average of forty new schools per year to become Lifelong Learning Centers and hubs for social and economic advancement with strong participation from members of surrounding communities and the local government.

PDA proposes to introduce the School-BIRD Project to communities/schools that are supported by Peace Corps Volunteers.  While this PDA initiative is available to communities-schools that demonstrate sufficient need and commitment, PDA proposes to set aside resources to be used in schools that are Volunteer assisted due to (a) PDA’s multiple positive experiences with PCVs over the years and (b) the greater likelihood of success with the PCV ‘s presence and support for facilitation, coaching, youth leadership, monitoring and reporting.

School-Community Application: To initiate the process, the community and school leadership must apply to PDA through the Mechai Pattana School (Bamboo School) for School-BIRD cooperation.  The letter should describe the desire and commitment of the community and school leaders with an indication of participation by community members and students.  It is proposed that the schools who are interested in this collaboration visit the Bamboo School to learn more about the School-BIRD model before applying.

PDA School-BIRD Project Agreement: Following submission of the letter of request for collaboration, a PDA-Bamboo School team will visit the community and school for consultation and confirmation of need and commitment as well as land and water availability before agreeing to provide project assistance.

The School-based Integrated Rural Development Project assists public schools to move towards becoming community centers for innovation and training.  PDA support for a School-BIRD project can be agreed and initiated if strong leadership and commitment are demonstrated by both the school and community.  If agreed, it is done on an incremental basis, to allow the school-community to absorb and demonstrate adoption and management of the program component(s) before introducing additional components.

There are four types of activities in each School-BIRD project which are implemented in two phases. If the school has demonstrated sufficient commitment, productivity and participation in the first phase, it will be eligible for the second phase of the project.

Component 1: Community Empowerment and Training in Vegetable Growing for Villagers, Students and Teachers. A committee of community representatives will be established and will receive training to serve as core group in coordinating activities in the project. They will be trained in small-scale agriculture, using small amounts of land, water and labour, and will be taken on Eye-Opener Trips to observe and learn from successful implementation of project activities in other areas.

Component 2: Poverty Eradication Farm at the School. Funds will be used to begin a locally relevant, comprehensive and profitable school agricultural plot. The activities will be setup and maintained by students, community members and school staff. The agricultural activities may include vegetable growing in containers and hydroponic systems, growing lime out of season and mushroom cultivation for sale to the school and community.  Proceeds are used to maintain agricultural activities of the farm.

After approximately six (6) months, the school farm will be evaluated in terms of school-community participation, management of activities and agricultural outputs.  If the school-based farm does not meet the qualifying criteria for progress, PDA will address the issue with community members and the school will be given additional time and technical assistance to improve. However, if it is unable to improve, no additional resources will be provided.  If progress is satisfactory, then PDA will continue with the school-community for the next Phase.

Component 3: Business Loan Fund for Students and the Most Economically Challenged Parents and Grandparents Caring for Young Children. PDA training and funding will be provided to the school-community to establish a revolving fund to provide loans with a small interest to students and community members to replicate or expand on the school-based farm for personal income. It is expected that the school farm and the loan fund will together become the school’s Social Enterprise for long-term sustainability.

Component 4: Water, Dental Hygiene, Sanitation and Environment. Technical training and support will be provided to improve the school’s resources for water catchment, dental hygiene, and sanitation. In order for the PDA’s assistance not to be perceived as a free gift, the community will plant trees as their contribution to the project. In addition, the students are expected to regularly clean-up the areas surrounding the school as part of their community service in return for the project’s assistance.

Role of the Peace Corps Volunteer in the School-BIRD Project: While the official relation of the project is between the school and the community’s leadership and PDA, the PCV will play an important role in participation, encouragement and support. A PCV assigned to the municipality or school will be of assistance by facilitating, coaching, participating, leading youth activities, assisting with monitoring and reporting, and using the activities to teach English to students and interested community participants.  This could be a significant assignment for Youth in Development (YinD) Volunteers if mutually agreed and a significant secondary activity for Teacher Collaboration and Community Service (TCCS) Volunteers.  It should be noted that OBEC, of which the Chairman of PDA (Khun Mechai) is a Member, is in support of this outreach effort.  In the last two years, this project had also provided similar assistance to students in government schools who are living with mobility disabilities as well as hearing impairment.

For further information or to request participation in the program, please contact:  Khun Mechai Viravaidya at mechaiv@gmail.com or  Khun Isadore Reaud at isadore.mvf@gmail.com; 081-918-0579.


Bamboo School


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