The Social Action for Children and Women (SAW) foundation is calling on Thai residents to take part in a fundraising project for children and women in need to provide them with much-needed education, healthcare and shelters, at the opening ceremony of the new halfway house at Ban Khang Phibal, Mae Sot district of the northern province of Tak on November 11.
“The population living along the border of Myanmar around Tak’s Mae Sot district are of mixed race and nationalities. In the remote area, law, education, and healthcare are very limited to those in need, and this is social problem that we can never overlook. For the past 17 years, the foundation has been providing shelters for more than 12,000 underprivileged Burmese. Our mission is to provide them with safe shelter, healthcare, education, counselling, as well as vocational training so that they are able to make a decent living in the future,” says Surapong Kongchantuk, the foundation’s chairman.
Foundation adviser, Dr Cynthia Maung, a Magsaysay awardee and a social activist stationed in Mae Sot district, said that the number of abandoned babies at Mae Tao Clinic and Mae Sot Hospital become a bigger problem as years go by. Another problem is the children along the border who are constantly at risk. The first and the most important priority is to provide them shelter as they have no family, no home and no relatives to look after them.
SAW Foundation was founded in June 2000 to assist displaced women and children regardless of their race. The foundation also provides shelter for women victims of violence. It recently gained official foundation status under the name of Social Action for Children and Women. It is a non-profit and non-governmental organisation operating solely off donations from philanthropists and various organisations.
To date, the foundation occupies a main office and three rented small houses for more than 170 persons in need on Sripanich road of Mae Sot district. It also features the “Saw School”, which gives compulsory education to children in the care of the foundation and the public from pre-school to grade 8, and in GED. In 2008, SAW was one of 25 organisations from around the world to receive the Red Ribbon from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for providing outstanding HIV prevention, treatment and education at the grassroots level. And in 2016, the foundation received the Prachabodee award from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.
“We have children both Thai, and stateless, as well as children with special needs. Each house, with two bathrooms and a keeper, provides shelter for more than 50 children. We give them useful vocational training course such as handicrafts. By preparing those vulnerable women and children to have sufficient level of Thai language communication as well other life skills, the foundation can later send them to pursue further education in state-run schools.
“Due to drastic rise in the number of children and women in need, the foundation compound is deemed too crowded, SAW bought a 4-rai land in Mae Sot where the house for babies, children, canteen, and water treatment pond are still under construction. For other facilities like the main office, sports ground, playground, library, computer room, safe house and older children house, we are doing everything we can to raise funds.
“Vulnerable children and women in Mae Sot share common needs like people everywhere else, they need home, warmth, security, education, and more importantly, the opportunity to stay and grow in society. But it is very unfortunate that they don’t even have a place to study, to meditate, to play sport and no books to read. With a larger area and more, we will be able to give them happiness, a pleasant environment to help them develop their bodies and minds, as well as education. As one day, these seeds will grow into the force of society and the fuel that helps move the country forward,” said the chairman.
Those who wish to take part in this project can donate through the Social Action for Children and Women (SAW) account number 985-2-75142-5 or 986-3-72819-5, Krung Thai Bank, Robinson Mae Sot branch.
For more information, call (055) 531 746, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.SawFoundation.org.