The challenge is to support community partners with the funds they need to do their work. At the same time, to ensure that those funds before everything else go towards the benefit of the children.
All of the boarding houses we support were able to provide some food for the children in their care, generally around the amount of two baht per child per day in addition to some basic rations provided by TBBC, an NGO providing food and non-food items in the camp.
Imagine you had a bowl of rice and 6 cents to buy yourself food for the day.
In January, we introduced some additional funds and the accounting system to keep track of them. But February was the first month that children got what we believe is a basic minimum for food.
Generally, students eat a “curry” made from vegetables. When their funding is extremely low, they may sneak outside the barbed wire that surrounds the camp and forage in the fields and forests outside for food. There are many cabbage fields in the area and sometimes they bring back the outer leaves and bits that have been left behind by the cabbage harvest. Other times they bring back roots and edibles from the forest.
Leaving the camp to find food takes time that should be spend studying and playing, but more importantly, it is extremely dangerous. To leave the camp, students must pass over a barbed wire fence. If caught by Thai guards, they could be stripped of their refugee status and summarily deported.
I am happy to report that in the month of February, no child in a boarding house supported by the Foundation was forced to leave the camp in search of food.
Our Camp-based Coordinator verifies that the students are eating well in a variety of ways. He checks the boarding house receipts against what he observes during personal visits. As well, he spends times with the students in the kitchen and around meal time, talking with students about what they eat.
Feedback from students in February was very positive. Students said they were eating more food and better food than in previous months.
Sar Lar Hset, a 17 year old student in Kyaw Kyaw’s dorm said: “The food quality this month is better than last month because previous months we couldn’t eat much curry. We could eat curry one time per week and we had to find vegetables in the forest or outside the camp. But in February we could eat curry at least three times a week and we didn’t have to find vegetables outside camp.”