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 offers English language classes in the evening for both the refugee children, and many children in the nearby villages. This service not only provides greater opportunities for the Shan refugees, but a positive link between the camp and the local community.
This project provides a small stipend for the teachers who provide English language lessons to over 100 children and teenagers. Without this stipend, the teachers would not be able to provide for their basic needs like food and clothing. This would force the teachers to find jobs working on farms or in construction, and the English evening classes would have to be cancelled.
Currently there are 117 students who are studying with 73 students from inside the camp and 44 students from outside the camp. They are from different 3 villages and different ethnic groups, Shan, Chinese, Ta_Ang and Thai.
Koung Jor Shan Refugee Camp has become ‘home’ to some 400 refugees who escaped the internal armed conflict of Burma. While the people at Koung Jor have been displaced from their homes, they are making the best of their situation and try to improve their opportunities in anyway available.
One of these ways is through English language education. Without English language skills, the refugees at Koung Jor have few options other than manual labour.
Additionally, the English evening classes have been viewed as an excellent service by the people from the local community in and around Piang Luang. This helps create a positive relationship between the refugees and the local community.
Goals and Results
In 2020-21 the number of teachers increased to nine, then in 2021-22 increased again to eleven to accommodate additional classes. The eleven teachers hold nine separate classes at various levels depending on the student’s age or level of English competency.
The programme runs for ten months throughout the year (with a month-long holiday in April and October). At the end of each cycle, students are required to take a test. The goal of the programme is to achieve adequate test results from over 80% of the students.
Their company, a furniture supply company for the hospitality industry, has been supporting us since July 2015. With a strong sense of social responsibility, they give their customers the opportunity to make a difference with every purchase by donating €1 Euro to us for every order submitted on their website (barkrukoutlet.nl)
These donations have allowed us to do more for even more people. They even named one of their barstools after our founder! It just so happens that the "Sallo" barstool is a bestseller.
As Koung Jor Shan Refugee Camp is regarded as only a temporary solution for refugees fleeing the violence in their country, the camp is not connected to the local electricity grid. As a result, children often walk back home in the dark. Thanks to Bike Tour Asia, their path home is now illuminated.
Six Solar Panel Auto-Lights (SPAL) have been installed, and the SPALs will last for at least three years with a one-year warranty. This will benefit everyone in the camp, especially the children returning from evening English classes. Everybody will be safe from poisonous animals, they will not slip during the rainy season, and they will feel safe at night even if their houses have no light.
Here is a video of the students first walk under the light 💡
On 4th February 2023, Bike Tour Asia visited the Koung Jor Shan Refugee Camp (KJSRC) and all the riders contributed to the solar lamp project on this trip, which will enhance the safety on the dusty road in the camp from poisonous animals and allow students to safely walk home after their English evening classes.
The riders were given a tour of the camp and discussed ways to provide further support, such as purchasing new tables, providing computers, and installing more solar cell lights.
KJSRC is a home for approximately 300 refugees who have escaped the internal armed conflict in Burma. Despite being displaced from their homes, the people of Koung Jor are making the best of their situation and work to improve their opportunities in any way they can.
Thank you to Bike Tour Asia for organising the tour and to the riders for their contributions to the project and for their continued support!