Nonprofit or community organization
Last modified: June 3, 2011, 2:15 PM
Using participatory models to foster community development among Shan Burmese refugees living in northwest Thailand, we have been launching initiatives in education, mental and reproductive health, water, and legal rights for over ten years now. By building a well-educated, healthy, and economically robust community, we restore dignity, assert social rights, and help lay the foundations for their participation in a future democratic Burma.
With an annual budget of just $5,000, our outcomes have been outstanding:
We help over 60 refugee students who would not be attending school otherwise. Approximately 90% of the community's adults are illiterate, yet the children all read and write at grade level. Stunting from malnutrition fell dramatically, at statistically significant rates. Access to sanitation increased from 30% to 100%.
Above all, the BRP encourages community members not just to voice their dreams but to dream bigger. Many continue to declare wishes to "have jobs," but they now also launch their own microenterprises, demand climate change workshops from BRP staff, and yearn for democracy in Burma in ways they had not articulated before.
All projects come from needs assessments and strategic planning with the refugees. The project coordinators, both public policy professors, then research different cost-effective means to achieve the refugees' goals and discuss possible designs with the social workers and refugees themselves.