In 2002 Koung Jor Shan Refugee Camp was established next to the town of Piang Luang on the Thai-Burma border in northern Thailand. It is a close-knit community of over 400 Shan refugees. The camp has several facilities, including a boarding house for displaced Shan children between the ages of four to 18. Some of these children have lost their parents or their parents cannot take care of them due to socio-economic challenges.
The boarding house employs two caretakers and a cook who provide a safe environment for the children, offer emotional support and encourage the children to attend school.
While the boarding house provides a much-needed service to the community, the camp does not have the funds to help support the running costs of the boarding house. Without the boarding house and its staff, displaced children will be left homeless and at risk for not completing their education. In the absence of caretakers, boarding house children will face a number of additional risks, especially in an environment known for its high levels of child exploitation and trafficking.
In 2012, after funding from another organisation ran out, Philanthropy Connections was able to find a generous sponsor who agreed to fund the operational costs of the boarding house. The project still continues to this day.
Koung Jor Shan Refugee Camp has become ‘home’ to some 400 refugees who escaped the internal armed conflict in Burma. Some of these refugees are children who are alone and do not have family or parents to turn to.
Without a safe and caring place in which to grow up the chances of these children developing into independent and healthy adults are very slim.
The boarding house offers up to 20 children an environment that is as close to a normal family life as possible. They attend local Thai schools and learn English, Shan, Burmese and computer skills at the camp in the evenings. They also help with the laundry, look after the vegetable gardens and have chores around the dormitories.