As part of the Project Inspire Financial Literacy and Social Entrepreneurship Program, the UPLift Initiative is working with a Burmese migrant learning center near the landfill community in Mae Sot, Thailand to improve children’s nutrition and their rights to education.
The first thing you would notice when out on a trip to the landfill is the dust. There is dust here, dust there, dust everywhere.
The road from Mae Sot that winds through villages and sugarcane fields are full of potholes, an indication that the dry season has arrived. Travelling in the back of an open truck, all you’d notice (other than the clanky noises from the truck hitting bump after bump) is the huge amount of dust in the air. Although the local municipality sprays the roads with water to alleviate the problem, their visits are too few and far between to be of much help.
However, the bumpy trip is well worth it. On the way to the landfill, you’d come across a school called “Sky Blue”. Despite having heaps of waste as its backdrop, the name of this school reflects its optimism and mission, and is symbolic of how children at this school have their entire lives wide open in front of them, much like an open sky. The school also represents their aspirations to reach up high, towards a future filled with opportunities for growth and knowledge.
One reason why we decided to work with the landfill community on financial literacy is because of the large number of children living there. Some of them attend school, while the rest stay behind during the day to pick recyclables with their families. The mere concept of getting an education is a great luxury, so the children who do attend try their hardest, and their parents need to save and budget their money in order to send them to school.
As part of our goal for the program, we have been working with Sky Blue School to introduce a milk and fruit nutrition program for their students. Every weekday, each student would receive a packet of milk and a piece of nutritious fruit to supplement their lunch, which usually comprised of curry, vegetables and rice.
We will also be measuring the student enrollment numbers till June to see if the added benefit of nutrition can convince parents to send their children to school. Thus far, we have received positive feedback from the students and are excited to meet this goal.
Every day, the dust will rise and fall back down – that much does not change. However, ensuring that as many children as possible have a right to proper education, nutrition and safety will change, and we are hoping that we will make that difference.