Tag Archives: non profit

Meeting the Mae Sot team

Meeting with Global Neighbors:

There are over 100 other non profit groups in Mae Sot all helping in a variety of ways to assist in providing better education for the 13,000+ displaced children in the area. One of the larger organisations is a Canadian charity called Global Neighbors. The Building Trust team were able to get an appointment with David Heppner, Director of Global Neighbors who has been heading up work in Mae Sot since 2004.  David and his local community in his home town of Prince Albert, Canada kindly donate hundreds of items which are placed in a shipping container every year and brought over to Thailand to be donated to the local schools.

David is a great asset to the the area and after a very interesting meeting we hope that we will be able to work with Global Neighbors in the future to develop more schools in the Mae Sot area. At Global Neighbors Headquarters in Mae Sot there are fantastic workshop facilities where the team train locals in an apprenticeship scheme teaching woodwork, welding, mechanics and more. We hope that we will be able to gain a team of apprentices to help on the school build.

Meeting with Translator:

As I am not up to scratch on Thai conversation we organised to meet a translator, a lovely lady named Mey. We had a really nice meeting with Mey who is Burmese and speaks fluent English. Sadly as our school is a Karen school we need a translator who can also speak Karen. Mey kindly taught us a few basic Burmese words and vocab and is going to source a Karen speaker for our upcoming meetings.

Meeting with Youth Connect:

The Building Trust team had a great meeting with Patrick Kearns from Youth Connect. Youth Connect pose the question, “What happens when these students become young adults and have to leave the system? Where will they go next?” Youth Connect provide training, apprenticeships and career services so students can transition to safe, productive and independent lives. We were very interested to meet with Patrick and hear more about the great work he is carrying out in Mae Sot. The organisation offers paid apprenticeships in skilled work which are carried out in the workshops mentioned at Global Neighbors. We hope to work with Patrick and his team of apprentices to build the winning design from the ‘School 4 Burma‘ competition. More details to be confirmed soon! Check out this short video showing just a few of the apprenticeships on offer:

Design Meeting:

We met up with Albert and Jan to review a new scale model of the school design. We discussed possible materials to use for the school floor possibly a stone tile structure or a wood/cement material. Albert made a suggestion that if we were to keep the raised flooring we should raise it even higher to ensure that poisonous animals don’t ‘move in’ underneath the classrooms. We are now in a process of refining and finalising the design details.

Meeting with HKU Volunteers:

Tomorrow 9 students from Hong Kong University will arrive to volunteer on the ‘Moving Schools project we are very excited to have the team work with us on the build. Yesterday we met with the team leaders Neha and Edward who previously volunteered teaching English at Kwe Ka Baung school last Summer. It is great to have them as part of the team! We look forward to next week when we will start an introduction session with our volunteers. We currently have 9 volunteers from Hong Kong and three from the UK along with a camera man arriving next week to film the progress of the school construction.

Meeting with Imagine Thailand:

Another great charity found in Mas Sot is Imagine Thailand another Canadian run organisation who offer support to the community of Mae Sot through supplying water systems to schools in the town. We met with volunteer Dave Hanson who moved to Mae Sot with his family to help the local people, his family has now been in the area for two years.

Imagine Thailand works with ERDO to provide the funding needed for the water systems in the area along with a range of funding programmes such as Sponsor a School linking Canadian schools with schools in the Mae Sot area. It was great to meet up with Dave who is hoping to help out on the Moving Schools project throughout June.

Many thanks to all of those who have met up with our team this week!

A Model School

After arriving in Mae Sot and initially meeting with the school teachers and Headmaster, Mahn Bala Sein, we became aware that the best way to discuss the school design to the community would be to make a small scale model of one of the classrooms enabling everyone to gain a better visual understanding of the design. So over the weekend we constructed a model using what materials we could find from toothpicks to create ‘bamboo effect’ wall panels to corrugated plastic found in the local school stationary shop. We finished the model and set-up a me

Small Scale Model of a School Classroom
Small Scale Model of a School Classroom

ting with the school this morning to allow the teachers, students and headmaster to gain a clear idea as to how their school could look.

The meeting today went well and the model allowed us to take the School members through the materials to be used to construct a classroom and the overall size and space within the module. Through this discussion questions were raised over what materials should be used for each section. We discussed the different possibilities of using timber or steel to create the main classroom frame structure and were pleased to hear that the school were very happy and excited about the idea of a plastic fabric being used to create the roof. The current leaf and bamboo roofing systems only last one year and then need to be replaced so both the teachers and Headmaster could see the benefits of a fabric roof with a greater life span.

Consultation of School Design with Kwe Ka Baung Headmaster, Mahn Bala Sein
Consultation of School Design with Kwe Ka Baung Headmaster, Mahn Bala Sein

We reviewed the idea of using half height wall sections between classrooms but it was decided that a full wall panel would be better suited to ensure students were focused on their teacher and the class being taught. However, it was agreed that a half height wall should be used at the end of the classroom to create light and a view out to the main courtyard.

Discussing the design with the teachers was of great use and many interesting ideas came out of today’s meeting. Tha Taw one of the teachers at Kwe Ka Baung has taught at the school for 4 years. We asked Tha Taw what his idea of a good school design would be he is now going to set-up a class asking the school children to draw their ideal school design. I look forward to sharing their drawings and ideas with you soon.

Still undecided on the main material to be used for the school design, we agreed with Mahn Bala Sein to visit both a timber yard and a steel supplier. We first visited a reclaimed timber yard where we were able to gain a better idea of costing of the material and also the size and lengths of material available in the area. We found out that the maximum length of timber was 4 metres and fresh timber is almost impossible to come by.

Meeting with timber yard in Mae Sot.
Meeting with timber yard in Mae Sot.

After visiting the timber yard we visited a local steel supplier who showed us the lengths, dimensions, weights and variety of steel available and gave us an idea of costing based on our current design. This was very useful and we are now in a better position of understanding what we can achieve and what materials are available for us to use.

Discussing materials with local steel supplier
Discussing materials with local steel supplier

After meeting with the school and the material suppliers today we had a great meeting with two Architects Albert from Spain and Jan from Germany who have both been working locally for the Mae Sot Clinic. They have been developing and designing further buildings for the Clinic from dormitories to toilets and also a brand new Training Centre. It was great to meet with them and discuss the ‘Moving Schools’ project and find out the best practises of working in the area. It felt very reassuring to know there were like minded individuals in the area who were willing to share their skills to develop some fantastic humanitarian projects. We thank them both for arranging to meet up and we hope we will be able to work out the finer details of the school construction with the help from their ‘insider’ knowledge.

8 weeks till the build

Well it has been a very busy week at Building Trust HQ where I have been travelling around the South of England attending a variety of meetings with roofing manufacturers, fellow non profits and accountants to name but  a few…

Last week I visited EcoBuild which is the World’s biggest event for sustainable design, construction and the built environment and the UK”s largest construction event of any kind. At the conference we reviewed a variety of interesting building techniques from pallet housing to straw bale build and adobe brick/rammed earth structures. Some of the most interesting structures were from UK Universities including an interesting project from second year students from the Department of Architecture and Built Environment of the University of Nottingham. Their design was a pavilion which used recycled shipping pallets, scaffolding parts and strapping elements to create a structure in which sustainably sourced materials and an attractive spatial quality dominate.

University of Nottingham project at EcoBuild
University of Nottingham project at EcoBuild

At the exhibition we met with the team from Fordingbridge PLC the company has an excellent reputation for the design and build of inspiring, sustainable curved roof structures including school canopies, covered walkways and tensile fabric structures. As the winning design from the School 4 Burma competition has a fabric roofing system we arranged a meeting this week in Arundel to see the structures which Fordingbridge manufacture and design on site. It was great to see a UK manufacturing company which designs, researches, engineers and manufacturers all under one roof in the factory in Arundel. We had a very interesting meeting and look forward to developing the roofing design further. We also arranged several meetings with marquee manufacturers to see if this could be a solution to the roofing design.

The winning design we will be building this summer
The winning design we will be building this summer

In order to gain some advise on setting up volunteering projects, I met up with Bee Rowan from Strawbuild. Strawbuild is a not-for-profit social enterprise that provides straw bale building and training services across Europe. As I have never had the experience of managing a group of volunteers of a build before, Bee kindly met with me to recommend her top tips on volunteering. She gave some great advise on how to make sure everyone on site should be confident in knowing their duties and their tasks for each day but also to ensure each individual is taught tool safety before getting to site. It was great to discuss the project through with Bee and learn some fantastic ideas on how to keep team moral up by playing games and group activities to make sure everyone is positive and excited about the build.

At Building Trust I have to learn new tasks each day and no days are boring as I learn about new projects, my days vary from working on marketing our brand to lecturing at Universities. I also have the role of accountant and slowly am learning about the world of Charity finance! In order to gain some words of advise I had a meeting with my friend Ali who is an accountant from a major charity. He advised me on the best way to keep accounts and the charity books in the best order to ensure a clear understanding from all when reviewing our accounts. So role on end of year and putting in our first year of accounts!

Thanks to all of those who I had meetings with this week, it is great to receive words of advise and assistance.

Now 8 weeks to go!!