June 19th, 2020
Spotlight On: Loi Tai Leng School
Shan State in the east of Burma has been the scene of fighting and ethnic violence for decades. Since 1995, campaigns have been waged against the Shan people which have brought violence to the area and displaced hundreds of thousands. Since 1995, there have been widespread reports of human rights violations against the Shan people including torture, rape, arbitrary arrest and extensive discrimination. Many Shan villages have been, and continue to be, destroyed, with land confiscated and many prevented from returning home.
Moreover, there has been an escalation in conflict and human rights violations since 2011 in northern Shan State. Burmese military offensives against ethnic minorities have resulted in the displacement of approximately 401,000 civilians and the destruction of over 400 villages. Violence and armed attacks increased again, in August 2019, with heavy artillery and landmines bringing destruction and death to Shan State townships and along the Pyi Htaung Su main road.
HART and Loi Tai Leng
In October 2017, funding from the international community largely spent on food aid was cut in order to be redirected to Western Burma and the Rohingya Crisis. This motivated HART to start supporting Loi Tai Leng School, with the help of Palmer’s Green School who have raised over £1,000 for food for the students.
At the end of 2018, HART launched 3 projects at Loi Tai Leng School. First, funds raised helped to enable the construction of a dam in the valley below the school. The dam was completed in 2019 and the water is now used to create hydroelectric power for the school which supports the solar panels the school were using before. The dam has also facilitated agricultural development to improve food security for the school by helping to create a fish farm which supplies the school.
The farm produces food for Loi Tai Leng School and most crucially, for its 400 students who board. As food aid was cut, the need for a balanced and nutritious diet for the 700 students at the School has soared as many now live on rice provided by the Shan State Army. The School hopes that the farm will become an agricultural child-learning centre where people from all over Shan State can go to learn techniques in sustainable agriculture and self-sufficiency. Due to the farm’s proximity to Thailand, plans have been made to invite agricultural specialists as guest speakers to train local people.
Funding has also helped to create and run the first-ever capacity-building and skill-learning workshop for 100 dedicated teachers from the 6 schools for displaced Shan children that operate amongst the refugee camps along the border. During the workshop, teachers got the chance to share experiences, expertise, stories and skills.
However, whilst steps have been taken to provide for displaced Shan people, there is much still to be done. On our most recent trip, Santi, a Grade 10 teacher at the school, told us specifically that still, “food aid is desperately needed.” It remains true that many along the Thai border do not have access to nutritional food and many children cannot access quality education.
If you wish to donate to Loi Tai Leng and HART you can do so here, https://www.hart-uk.org/donate/
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