Tag Archives: Mae sot

Revisit to MOVINGschools

In May, the BTi team visited Mae Sot to gain an update on our MOVINGschools and also to see an exciting new project working with Ironwood to renovate schools within the border town.

First we visited MOVINGschool 001 which looked in great shape, which even had a family of birds nesting in our bamboo blinds.

birdhome Classrooms May 2014

We also visited New Road school and were given a kind gift from one of the teachers; a photo of her pupils using their new school building for their end of year exams.

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It was great to see the school renovation project our friends at Ironwood had been working on and see where our donation to the project went.

Classroom Rehabilitation

We hope to give updated annually from our MOVINGschools to keep you up to date with how the buildings are doing.

Moving School 002 complete!

With the roof and floor installed at the New Road site, the Ironwood team were ready to fit the walls to the school building.  After a successful meeting with Bayer AG, a German chemical and pharmaceutical company in Bangkok we received the fantastic news that the organisation would provide the wall material for both Moving School 002 and 003. The material to be used was a twin walled polycarbonate which has the benefit of being lightweight, durable and UV resistant and would allow the internal classrooms to be kept cool and light.

A member of the Bayer team from the Bangkok office kindly agreed to visit us in Mae Sot bringing with him a wealth of knowledge as to how to install the material. He instructed us the best methods of using the material and the suitable fixings to ensure the product remained water tight.

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The next step was to construct the wooden panels which would hold the plastic sheets in place. When all panels were finished and made in the workshop they were taken to the Moving School 002 site to be installed while classes continued for the school pupils in the old cramped building.

New Road pupils in their old school building
New Road pupils in their old school building

The wooden panels were built with sections to be used for windows which will add extra ventilation and light when needed into the classrooms.

We were very happy to see Moving School 002 nearly complete and looking fantastic! We would like to thank Bayer for kindly donating the polycarbonate material which will ensure the classrooms stay light and airy and have a great impact on the learning environment of the pupils from New Road.

It was now time for the Opening Ceremony and Bayer kindly treated the boys & girls of New Road to ice cream and a new school book.

Opening Ceremony of Moving School 002
Opening Ceremony of Moving School 002
Inside MOVINGschool 002
Inside MOVINGschool 002

We would like to thank the fantastic team at Ironwood for their hard work and dedication and to Jan from Agora Architects for his support and assistance. We look forward to sharing with you photos of the pupils in their new school classrooms very soon!

Thanks for reading,

Louise

The school is complete

After completing one side of the school building with the roofing system in place we knew it would not be too long before the whole school build was complete. As the apprentices spent their days dodging the rain and lifting the final set of roofing pieces into place now it was time to lay all the floor boards and fit the bamboo wall panels into place.

Fitting wall panels

The wall panels will section of classroom areas within the school building providing the students and teachers with much needed space to teach individual classes.

On the front section of the classrooms we decided to add a full bamboo wall to give the greatest protection from wind and rain to the classrooms. The apprentices carefully cut bamboo in long sections to slot in place to the shape of the steel classroom frames.

First the bamboo had to be cut and the insides removed to create a strong wall to provide the needed protection.

 

Hollowing out bamboo

Finally after 3 months of hard work and with a fantastic team of  apprentices, local social enterprises and non profits,  international volunteers, school teachers, TKHS students and their parents help the new school was finished. I am very happy to share with you below some exciting photos of the finished build.

Moving School 001.

Moving School 001

We are very excited to announce that students will be starting their new term on Monday 5th November – I look forward to sharing with you photos of the kids from TKHS in their new school classrooms! So keep reading….

The Frames are up!

LIVE UPDATE: Moving Schools project – Frames for School modules are up!

After a successful day placing the first school frame into position, everyone from teachers and students to volunteers were very excited about the upcoming weeks and the fast progress, happening on the build. We spent the next week finishing the remaining foundation posts on the second line of the classrooms. It was very rewarding to see the first school module in the corner of the site, a reminder of the success that comes from the hard work of digging and fitting the foundation posts.

In an effort to recruit further volunteers to assist with the build, we placed posters throughout Mae Sot in guesthouses and cafes to entice more people to help out. We were very happy to receive a call from a Belgian family who saw our poster and thought a few days volunteering on our school project would be a great way to spend time on their holiday. Hans, An, Emile and Yann were a great boost of energy to our project, Hans helped David, Pablo and Jim with foundations while An and her sons Emile (10) and Yann (5) helped me with painting. It was great to see a family taking a month break from work to enjoy family time in Thailand and also help out with a volunteering project. Our youngest volunteers so far were definitely the most energetic painting the ceiling and flooring frames in no time at all.

When we originally visited Mae Sot in January 2011, we were shown around some of the school buildings by a Spanish NGO, Colabora Birmania. We have since stayed in touch with the NGO and were very lucky to be offered three new Spanish volunteers to help out on the build. David, Guiomar and Izaga are in Mae Sot for a month and have very kindly offered to volunteer on our ‘Moving Schools’ project. They quickly got to grips with the task of fitting foundation posts. It was easy to keep momentum up when carrying out the foundation posts as we could see the eager to learn children being taught outside their current school classroom to allow the teacher the much needed further space and quiet area she needed to teach. We saw the children playing a number game with their teacher with a game kindly donated by Imagine Thailand. We look forward to seeing the teacher and her students playing the number game in their newly built school classrooms very soon.

Children play a number game outside
Children play a number game outside

With only two weeks left until we fly home, we placed a deadline as to when all the steel had to be cut, painted and drilled at the workshop. We were very glad to see the workshop team work through the weekend to ensure all steel was ready in time. On Friday, we hired a 6 wheel truck to move all the steel to construct the school project from the Global Neighbors workshop to Thu Kha Hang Sar school. With our newly trained volunteers and a few spare hands courtesy of the workers from the Two Wheels Bike shop we had a team in place to move the steel to site. As we patiently waited at the workshop for the driver to arrive, excitement was building as our team knew today we would hopefully assemble all the frames.

As the truck manoeuvred around the workshop site, the team loaded the truck with all the different sections of steel, from columns to floor joists and ceiling beams. It was great to know that the steel needed for 10 classroom modules would fit comfortably onto the 6 wheel truck and reassuring to know that this school really was a ‘Moving School.’

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Quickly the piles of the steel around the workshop decreased and within an hour the truck was fully loaded and ready to travel to the school site.

David, our volunteers and I jumped into our truck and led the 6 wheel truck to the school site. We travelled through the small village of Mae Pa where we tightly squeezed through narrow roads passing day markets and buffalo’s on the road. Driving through rice paddy fields, we saw workers carrying out their daily chores and then finally we drove up the final small hill to the school to see our first module standing proud through the corn fields. It was exciting to know we were about to construct 9 further modules.

As the sun came out over lunch time, the team prepared to remove the very hot steel from the truck into the school grounds. We spoke with Chan Chan the school headmistress to explain that the children needed to stay inside while the steel was moved. As the piles of steel from the truck were slowly moved in the mid day sun to the school, we could hear the children inside standing on their tip toes to see what we were doing.  Chan Chan told the children that we would be building the remaining school frames and they spoke to her with excitement and asked when they could be taught in the new school. It was great to know that both the teachers and students were excited about their new school building.

Last few pieces of steel are taken of truck
Last few pieces of steel are taken of truck

The next task was to lay out the steel into position on the floor and bolt together. The frames could then be lifted up moved into place next to foundation holes and slotted into position.

Frames are laid out on site
Frames are laid out on site

Thu Kha Hang Sar school sadly had their electricity cables stolen recently therefore there is no electricity on site. With no power to charge the tools needed to construct the frames, we managed to hire a generator which powered the drills needed for the build. As the majority of the team constructed the frames on the school grounds, workers Nain and Aung Myint Soe tested the water level across the school and marked out where the holes to place the frames were to be drilled.

Aung Myint Soe and Nain measure water level
Aung Myint Soe and Nain measure water level

With the height measured, it was time to place the frames into place:

2nd Module

2nd Module
2nd Module

The team quickly got the hang of moving the frame into position and were quickly slotting the frames into place.

Module 3

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Finally the first line of modules is complete with the 4th and 5th module in place.

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With daylight ending, we decided to re-group the next day to finish the second row of modules. We met bright and early on Saturday morning and managed to put up the remaining frames during the hours when the rain stopped.

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It was incredible to see the frames on the school site, it gave us a real sense of what the final building will look like. Chan Chan and the teachers arrived to school on Monday morning and were very happy to see their new school building really taking shape.

Now we wait patiently for the roofing and flooring to arrive from Bangkok which we hope to install at the weekend. Meanwhile, the workshop team are still very busy construction the bamboo wall panels and the remaining roof frames. A very busy and exciting few weeks are in store!

Framed

LIVE UPDATE: from ‘Moving Schools‘ project – First Classroom module is placed on site

After another successful weekend with new volunteers helping on the school site we were happy with the progress being made. It was great to have volunteers from the UK and Canada working alongside the school teachers and students on their Saturday morning. With the number of long term volunteers slowly depleting it was great to see the arrival of Pablo from Guatemala on Saturday, a civil engineer who will be helping us out in Mae Sot until the end of the project. We also gained a few days volunteering assistance from Wen an Architect who had travelled from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to assist with the build.

New volunteers
New volunteers

On Tuesday, we received news from the workshop that they had finished cutting, drilling, painting and welding one set of steel frames to construct one school module. With this good news David, Pablo, Jim, Wen and I went to the school site to prepare the foundations posts for the arrival of the steel frames. In order to ensure we have the same height across the site, we purchased a 10 meter length of clear plastic tubing to use as a water level. Pablo had recently used this technique on a project build in Guatemala so was able to explain and show the very clever, simple process of ensuring the height across all foundation posts.

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The ends of the plastic tubing are held vertical, and the rest of the tubing lies on the ground.  The tube is filled with water, then two people hold the tube and one foundation post is chosen as the reference point. With foundation post chosen, one person stays at the post and holds the tube against the post and waits until the water levels out. The water level at each end of the tube will be at the same elevation, whether the two ends are adjacent or far apart.

Checking water level to reference height
Checking water level to reference height

Then at a second foundation post the other person holds their section of tubing against the second post and waits till the water stops moving up and down. When the water is still the level is marked on the reference post and then on the second post.

This process is repeated across all foundation posts using the reference post against each post.  A very simple method indeed!

On Wednesday, we headed up to the workshop and started loading a truck with the steel for one classroom module.

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Thankfully the distance between the workshop and the school site is not too far and the truck managed to drive onto the school site for the steel to be unloaded and laid out onto the ground

Unloading the truck
Unloading the truck

The workshop apprentices drill out the final holes in the foundation posts on site to ensure all sections are fitted to the correct measurements.

The steel columns are laid out on the ground and positioned into place with the floor panels and ceiling sections, which are bolted together. This will allow the two sections of the frame to be lifted up into place over the foundation posts and then bolted together.

First frame is lifted into place
First frame is lifted into place
Second frame is lifted into position
Second frame is lifted into position

When two frames are fitted to foundation posts the structure is secure, however we add a cross brace across the frames for additional support.

Cross brace is fitted to frames
Cross brace is fitted to frames

Next the floor sections are bolted onto the frames, soon we will add the roofing, bamboo wall panels and floor panels onto the school modules but first we must finish the remaining foundation posts and fit the classroom frames into place. The workshop are now planning to work over the weekend and we hope all ten modules will be fitted over the next few weeks.

First school module is fixed into position
First school module is fixed into position

Schools and Sites

On Wednesday morning, David and myself met with Salai from ME (Ministry of Education) to discuss potential sites we would be building the new classrooms for. Sadly, Kwe Ka Baung had still not worked out their land agreement with the local community around the new site we therefore had to look at the possibilities of helping another school for our first ‘Moving Schools‘ project. The weeks are passing quickly in Mae Sot and we wanted to make use of our 13 volunteers and start building a school.  Salai and ME staff set out with a task to review the schools most in need in Mae Sot and to work out which schools had the right piece of land, number of students and most importantly the need for the new classroom buildings. In the meeting we reviewed the staff findings and narrowed down the options to two schools which were greatly in need of school buildings and importantly had the community agreement to allow us to start building straight away and had written into their contract that any buildings which were built could be taken with them when their land agreement ended. Salai kindly offered to provide us with a truck for a few days to allow us to visit the two schools and work out which school we could provide classrooms for immediately.

Temple in Myawaddy

In order to extend our time in Thailand, we cycled to the Thai/Burma border, handed over our passport in return for a laminated ‘foreigner’ card and spent the afternoon exploring the small but bustling border town of Myawaddy. We ventured into town and found a beautiful Wat to explore. As we wandered around town we could help but notice the huge smiling faces of the Burmese people, everyone seemed to be very happy that we were there. Strolling around the town we noticed the red betel spit staining the pavements and the intoxicating smells of fresh herbs and spices. To finish off a very enjoyable day we indulged in a cold Myanmar beer as we watched people being ferried across the river.
On Thursday morning, we collected our Ford pick up truck from the ME office and first headed up to the Global Neighbors workshops to see how Saw Dee and Si Da Pa were getting on with the bamboo wall panels, we were happy to see that they had now completed 5 beautiful frames and would finish 7 by the end of the week. We then collected Layshi our very helpful translator from Imagine Thailand. He kindly directed us to Hope School which is a one hour drive from Mae Sot. It was nice to be driving and getting an idea of the countryside and surrounding villages of Mae Sot. We slowly climbed windy hills in our slightly old and noisy truck. At the top of a hill in the middle of the countryside Layshi  said ‘Stop’ and asked us to pull over. We got out of the car and were surprised to hear children’s laughter amidst the quiet surroundings.

Boys at Hope School

We had arrived at Hope School and slowly made our way down a muddy slope to reach their school grounds, walking over a bamboo bridge to reach the main school yard. We were to find out that there are 200 students at Hope, 91 of which are nursery age. However, the nursery have no class to teach in so it is often the case that the students are turned away and cannot attend school. On Thursday 56 children could not make it to school. We were introduced to the very helpful and smiley teachers who proudly took us around each of the class groups from Nursery to Grade 6. All of whom are taught under one small room, eating learning and sleeping in one area. The children were lovely and after slight apprehension at first they slowly began to chat with me as I asked each of the younger children their names. They proudly stood up, crossed arms and said their name, they laughed as I tried to pronounce their name back to them and often obviously did not pronounce their names correctly. Within a few minutes I was covered in children telling me their name and trying to see their friends faces on the screen of my camera.

School children at Hope School

I found it very hard to leave the class but we were to be taken by the Headmistress to see the Nursery Room. We walked through the mud to the back of the school where we could see lots of little children’s flip-flops and shoes lined up outside. Then we heard singing and the children sang their ‘Hello’ song which they address to the teachers in the morning. They all stood together 100 nursery children with their hands pressed together singing out loud.

Site at Hope

It was obvious that there was a real pressing need for new classrooms buildings at Hope School, our only problem was the location of the site and the rainy season approaching/here. With our team of volunteers in place and ready to start building foundations we knew that the location of Hope would not work for the first Project. However, we saw the real need for help at this school and would like to plan to come back in the dry season to provide them with some much needed classrooms.
Our next visit was to Thu Kha Hang Sar School, a school we had been told about by many people as a school desperately in need of some new school classroom facilities. The school is located just outside of Mae Sot in a small village called Mae Pa. We met Chan Chan the school headmistress in the afternoon. She kindly explained to us her great want and need for her school children to be provided with new school classrooms.

Site at Thu Kha Hang Sar School

She showed us the current school facilities which were very basic including one large room where all the students except from the nursery are taught. The 115 students are of Burmese, Karen, Hindu and Hmong decent. We were glad to hear that the Headmistress had a land agreement with the land owner for a further 3 years and had the agreement in place to construct buildings on site which could then be removed with the school at the end of the agreement. It was great to meet Chan Chan and see how much she wanted to help her students gain the best education possible. She knew that the current facilities were not good for the students as they had no where to concentrate and study as the one room echoed all the class students lessons. She also explained that the small nursery building was away from the main building to give the younger student peace to nap in the afternoon. It was Chan Chan’s hope to gain 6 new classrooms for her students and to use the existing main hall as a much needed dining area and to be used for meetings.
We were happy to know that we could help Chan Chan and her students and made an agreement to start working on the plans with her new school classrooms immediately. We went over an idea as to where she would like the classrooms placed and agreed that having 6 classrooms in total, in two lines of three running horizontal to the current main building would work best. This allowed the nursery students to remain in peace from the noise of the student classrooms and meant we could keep the lower section of the school land for play. Chan Chan also discussed with us their recent burglary and how security would be an important factor to consider in the design. The school recently had electricity cables and white boards stolen from the classrooms.

Children at Thu Kha Hang Sar School

We have a site and a group of children and teachers in need of better learning environments. On Friday morning we met up with the volunteers and were keen to take them to the new site. The volunteers clambered aboard our truck to visit the new site. We arrived at 9am, to see the students sitting in silence taking their morning prayers. After agreeing with Chan Chan on the rough placement of the classrooms, we split the volunteers into two groups. One group was in charge of surveying the current site based on the lessons they had learnt when surveying the buildings at Kwe Ka Baung School. So Chung, Hin, Nicholas, David and Claire set to work measuring the main classroom, nursery, toilet block and overall site dimensions.

Survey Team

Meanwhile, Ben, Ashley, Charity, Stephanie, Airi and Jim set out on the task to plot out the new school classrooms on the new site. The plotting team were given measuring tape, red rope and pieces of wood to plot out the dimensions of the overall buildings, walkways and individual classroom modules.

Plotting the classrooms

As the morning progressed the surveying team had quickly worked out dimensions for all the buildings and had a good understanding of the overall site. The plotting team carefully worked out the dimensions of each classroom and plotted where each module should be positioned.

Working out Foundation plots

This gave us a clear understanding of where foundations should be placed in order to start digging the foundation points. After a few hours the site was really taking shape and both teams were able to gain a real understanding of the size and position of the new school building. Carefully positioning coloured plastic flags along the red rope to ensure the school children would see the layout of the new school.

Marking Foundation posts

In the next blog update details of our meeting with Chan Chan confirming site position and find out how the volunteers get on starting foundation work on the site.

Final classroom plotted

Off to work we go

NEW VIDEO FOOTAGE:

Bright and early on Monday morning, the Building Trust team and volunteers met at the DK Hotel in Mae Sot to await our escort to the Global Neighbors workshops in Mae Pa. We have been very kindly offered the workshop facilities to develop and design the modular school classroom. Before setting off, the volunteers were given a run through of Safe Tools Use and watched a 20min video entitled the ‘ABC Of Hand Tools‘ The very simple cartoon allowed the volunteers to have a basic understanding of to use hand tools correctly and how easily they can be misused.

 

With the arrival of our ride, the volunteers piled into the Picturebook truck to be taken up to the workshops along with Saw Dee and Si Da Pa, two highly skilled carpenters/bamboo workers who will be working with the group this week. They have worked on several school projects in the area and were hired to teach the volunteers about the uses of bamboo. They worked with Norwegian Architect Line Ramstad through the G’yaw G’yaw Organisation. Gyaw Gyaw is committed to construct buildings to the benefit of Karen refugees in Burma and Thailand.

Before we could start using the bamboo and seeing how this material could be used to create our wall panel structures, Saw Dee and David travelled to pick up material supplies for the day. While myself and the volunteers awaited the materials we played a few team building exercises to make sure everyone would communicate clearly and be aware of each other in the afternoons building workshop. The first activity was a drawing game.

Volunteer Team Building
Volunteer Team Building

I first split the group into pairs giving one person from each pair a simple drawing of a cat placed on the top left of a blank piece of paper. The other team member then had to draw the picture which was described to them in shapes by the team member with the original drawing. It sounds difficult but the teams seemed to enjoy the game and as we tried a second round with one player drawing their own image to describe to the other team the communication between the pairs developed and the teams were faster at drawing the correct image.

The next game involved trust and working together as a team to get the best possible solution.  The volunteers enjoyed the mornings activities of getting to know one another a bit better and to understand how important it is to ensure everyone has a clear knowledge of the task to be achieved each day.

Volunteer Team Building Morning
Volunteer Team Building Morning

Just after lunch Saw Dee and David arrived with the materials needed to build the wooden frames. The volunteers quickly ran to the truck to help unload the bamboo, wooden planks and woven bamboo sheet into the workshops. We were quick to learn that Saw Dee believed that the machetes they had purchased did not have a high quality handle, so decided to search the workshop for a better piece of wood and then make their own. Within an hour Sawdee and Si Da Pa had made 3 new wooden handles for their machetes.

New wooden handles are fixed to the machete
New wooden handles are fixed to the machete

With machetes at the ready, Saw Dee kindly began the bamboo workshop and discussed the many ways bamboo can be used. He first  cut a piece to length then used the machete to take any rough edges off the sides. Then slowly cut into the bamboo, tapping all the way down. Saw Dee said to cut one piece of bamboo would normally take 15mins, however the lesson took slightly longer so the volunteers and BTi staff could gain an understanding of how to do it ourselves.

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After cutting the bamboo, Saw Dee unfolded the bamboo and began to flatten, using the machete to remove any hard edges found along the inside of the bamboo. The piece was then attached to a further two pieces of flattened bamboo and attached inside a wooden frame to create the bamboo infill wall panels.

It was great to see the skills shared between the local workers and the International volunteers, the group worked well together and slowly but surely we were getting the hang of using bamboo. Saw Dee and Si Da Pa will be working in the workshops all week to finish the wooden frames for one classroom unit.

Yesterday, the volunteers began clearing the ground and digging holes for foundations with the hope that we can complete one steel frame with infill wall panels over the next week. So keep reading to see how the build progresses!

And one panel is completed.

Finished Bamboo Wall Panel
Finished Bamboo Wall Panel

After cutting 3 pieces of bamboo and flattening then fitting inside a wooden panel fixed with a mortise and tenon joint and two tapered down teak dowels. Now another few to go so we can complete one classroom module!

Finished Bamboo Wall Panel
Finished Bamboo Wall Panel

Timelines and Tours

LIVE UPDATE from the Moving Schools Project:

Please check out the first video footage from the ‘Moving Schools‘ project showing the volunteer site visit to the MTC Medical Training Centre and the CDC School dorms. Please watch and share!

Burmese and Karen History/Culture project

On Thursday we met up with the volunteers to see their presentations on the Burmese and Karen History/Culture project. The teams split into their groups and went over each others work.

Volunteers present their Timeline Project
Volunteers present their Timeline Project

The first to present was the Green group, their timeline was set from 1951 – 1970 and they found out many key events such as, Burma was granted independence from Britain in 1948 and details about the ‘Four Cuts Operation’ of 1970 when the army targeted people supporting the guerrilla rebels by cutting food, information, recruitment and financial support. The team also looked into the topics of religion and art. The team focused on the mixture of Christianity and Buddhism within the Karen and were also aware that there is a large number of Muslims living with Burma.  Within the topic of art they discussed the strong Buddhist influences in their sculpture and painting and also spoke of the architecture which they believed was strongly influenced by Indian culture.

Timeline 1971 - 1990
Timeline 1971 – 1990

The next group presented what they had discovered during the period from 1971 – 1990 and the topics of music and language. The group discussed how in December of 1974 the biggest anti-government demonstration to date was held and also spoke of the 8888 Uprising in 1988, which was started by students in Yangon and spread throughout the country. The group also looked into the music and language of the Burmese and Karen people. The team found out about the ‘Saung Gauk’ a type of Burmese harp, ‘Hne’ a type of oboe, ‘Mi Gyaun’ a crocodile zither and the ‘Myanma Saiwai’ a type of drum.  They also discovered that there are around 100 languages with a variety of different dialects. In the Karen language alone they found about the Sgaw, Pwo and Pa’o. It was great to see the teams enthusiasm for the work they had carried out.

The final team looked into the history of  1991 – present day and found that there were many key moments in history that happened during this time period from Aung San Suu Kyi being placed under house arrest in 1989 to making her first trip outside Burma to Thailand visiting Mae Sot on 2nd June.  Political leader, Aung San Suu Kyi remained under house arrest in Burma for almost 15 of the 21 years from 20 July 1989. The team also looked into the location of the Karen and Burmese people finding that more than 250,000 Karen reside in Western Thailand. They also found that most Karen lived in the Karen State in Eastern Myanmar.

Karen Fashion
Karen Fashion

They discussed how since 2005, more than 50,000 Karen refugees have been resettled in Western countries such as USA and Canada. The teams second topic was fashion, where the group drew images of the clothing typically worn and found out about ‘Thanakha’ which is a Myanmar tradition of face painting which is used as sunblock and to cool the skin. They also found out that red was a very important colour in the clothing of the Karen and that women wear garments with covered shoulders until they are married.

Thanakha Myanmar Face Painting
Thanakha Myanmar Face Painting

The volunteers seemed to really enjoy the project which gave them a bit of background about the people who they will be building a school for over the upcoming weeks.

In the afternoon, we arranged a tour of the Mae Tao Clinic for the group to allow them an understanding of the great work the clinic carries out every day. People of all ethnicity’s and religions are welcome at the clinic. Its origins go back to the student pro-democracy movement in Burma in 1988 and the brutal repression by the Burmese regime of that movement. The fleeing students who needed medical attention were attended in a small house in Mae Sot.The group were to discover that 8 babies had already been born that day and that this was a common occurrence. Today, it serves a target population of approximately 150,000 on the Thai-Burma border.

Tour of Mae Tao Clinic
Tour of Mae Tao Clinic

After the tour of the Mae Tao clinic the volunteers got back on their bikes to cycle out of town to see the MTC School dormitories which  were designed by Albert and Jan, local architects for the clinic. We were very lucky to have a tour of the dorms by Jan who took us through the adobe brick structures which are cool all day and the new dorms which were constructed in 2 weeks made by locally sourced materials.

Volunteers check out adobe structure
Volunteers check out adobe structure

Slowly after our tour by Jan the heavens opened and the volunteers and the Building Trust team took cover in one of the bamboo dorms. Thankfully after a few hours of playing games and chatting we managed to catch a lift back into town leaving our bikes to pick up another day.

 

The Volunteers arrive!

After a great set of meetings with Non Profits, Architects and Social Enterprises in Mae Sot last week, we were eager to get on with the school build and were very excited to meet our first set of volunteers who will be working on the ‘Moving Schools‘ project throughout the month of June. We are very lucky to have three volunteers from the UK and 9 students from Hong Kong University who have all travelled to Mae Sot to help out on our project. On Monday, the cameraman for the project arrived just in time to film the first meet and greet of the Volunteer Induction Day. We look forward to posting video footage of the project as the weeks progress.

Volunteer Induction Day
Volunteer Induction Day

Yesterday, we met with the volunteers and gave them an introduction on the background of Building Trust International and an update on the ‘Moving Schools‘ project. All the volunteers seemed very keen to get stuck in and were excited to know we would be spending the afternoon visiting the current site of the Kwe Ka Baung School meeting some of the students and teachers and assessing the current facilities.

At 3pm we re-grouped at Kwe Ka Baung school, with the volunteers travelling through town by bicycle (a mini Tour De France in Mae Sot.) The first task was to let the volunteers gain an understanding of the current site and the school buildings. Edward a volunteer from Hong Kong University who is currently teaching at Kwe Ka Baung kindly agreed to take the volunteers on a tour of the site answering many questions from the group. It was great to hear the volunteers asking important questions such as the number of students per classroom and the utilities available on site. Edward showed us the newly built mushroom hut where the school hope to gain some extra finance through selling the mushrooms in town. He also pointed out the current problems with the school classrooms, from poorly built roofs to the issues of sound travelling through the current classroom walls.

Edward from HKU gives the volunteer a tour of the current school site at KKB
Edward from HKU gives the volunteer a tour of the current school site at KKB

It was great for the volunteers to meet some on the current Kwe Ka Baung students and staff. As the group walked through the site children shouted and waved saying ‘Hello’ to the volunteers.

We set the volunteers an interesting task for the afternoon, first splitting them into three groups (Red, Blue and Green.) They were given a tape measure and a specific building within the site to survey. We asked the groups to take key dimensions of the buildings, plot where supports were on the classrooms, note materials used on the build and measure wall thickness’s. This information will allow us to get a clear understanding of the facilities on the current site and help us to achieve an even better layout and plan for the new site. By gaining an understanding of the needs of the current school we will gain an insight in to the needs that can be applied to the new site.

Blue team measure the height of current building at Kwe Ka Baung
Blue team measure the height of current building at Kwe Ka Baung

Each team had their own ideas on how to measure the height of the school classrooms, from guessing the height based on their own height to standing on a chair to try and reach the top of the school classroom. It was great to see the teams having fun and enjoying carrying out the site survey.

After an hour taking dimensions and working out the layout of the classrooms the teams re-grouped to show their layout plan. It was amazing to see teams working together to come up with the easiest and quickest solution to survey the site. After a great first day, we finished by setting the volunteers a new task, to look into the history of the Burmese and Karen people. We want the volunteers to have a clear understanding of the people they are helping, in order to give them a deeper understanding of their ‘client’ before we start the build. Teams were given an A1 piece of paper with a chosen period of time, 1950 – 1969, 1970- 1989, 1990 – 2012. We hope that the volunteers will be able to research the history and on Thursday we will re-group to see what they have found out. Each group was also given two categories to research from art to music, fashion to religion, language to culture. We think this will be a very beneficial task to all of those involved in the ‘Moving Schools‘ project and look forward to seeing the results later in the week.

Green group review their chosen time period and study category
Green group review their chosen time period and study category

I look forward to updating your with more pictures and video clips as the build progresses.

Girls at Kwe Ka Baung
Girls at Kwe Ka Baung