The Community Education Project
“Knowledge of the problem is the first step to a solution.”
We are working with several communities here, one major group being the workers themselves; Internally Displaced People, Refugees and Indigenous People and the other major group the local population which includes tourists who come to Thailand on holiday and are unaware of the disparages here as well as Thais who are also unaware or uninformed.
For the IDP’s we are creating a network of resources for them in their own languages so they know where to get help for certain issues and what exactly their rights are in Thailand.
For the tourists we distribute brochures in English, educating them about the status and treatment of Refugees and Indigenous people in Thailand and how they can help, both while they are here and when they return to their own countries.
We are currently working on in house publications in Thai and English which describe the situation and treatment of refugees and indigenous people living here to create better understanding between all groups.
We often host relevant documentary movie screenings where our students and their families are invited as well as members of the local Thai community and our volunteers and other foreigners living here. They are followed by a discussion period where members of the various communities can ask each others view points and discuss their opinions. The aim of this is to create understanding and objectivity.
We host cultural events celebrating Thai, Shan and foreign cultural celebrations including music, dance, dress and art. Members of all communities are invited to these celebrations so they can share and compare their various experiences. These are multilingual events where descriptions of things such as food are even written in 2-3 languages. It is a time for members of the group being highlighted to show off and be proud of their community.
Free Bird Cafe
We have opened a cafe on-site during hours when it won’t conflict with class to serve as an interface with the local community. When you are in the cafe, you are literally in our classroom or garden so you can see the students work all over and also their books and school materials. We have several shelves of books about Burma and Indigenous People in Thailand and research that has been done in these areas. The public is free to sit, have a cup of coffee and browse through the books and publications while also talking to our staff who happen to be Thai Freedom House students. Our customers are Thai and foreigners who both live here or are traveling through so they often end up starting conversations between tables because the atmosphere is intimate. We have information about local events and art exhibitions and also many travel resources. The best part is that 100% of the sales go to help support Thai Freedom House. Oh, and the food and coffees are really good too!