Updates from the Thai-Burmese Border

Working in the US with women from around the globe, we can sometimes feel a bit far away. So when we receive updates from our partners, it closes the gap and makes the whole world seem just a bit smaller.

Global Goods Partners recently received an update from our artisan producer working on the Thai-Burmese border.  Women’s Education for Advancement and Empowerment (WEAVE) addresses the needs of Karen and Karenni women living in the refugee camps that have sprung up along the border. These two ethnic minority groups were targeted by the ruling military junta in Burma and over 148,000 refugees have fled from this ethnic persecution over the past few decades.

As displaced people with no government to turn to, these refugees have had to rely on international aid agencies to survive. To break this cycle of relying on foreign aid,  WEAVE created income generating opportunities for the women living in these camps. The organization has built on the Karen and Karenni women’s existing weaving skills to produce beautiful products and to forge the way to a sustainable life.

In addition to the these projects which provide steady paychecks for 180 women, WEAVE has also pioneered an Early Childhood Development project which provides technical and financial assistance to preschools in the refugee camps. In the 2011-2012 school year, over 3,000 children were able to attend school thanks to WEAVE’s support. A Women’s Study Program has also been implemented by WEAVE to educate women on both business and life skills  To date, 150 women have completed the 10-month program.

Even though WEAVE has continued to expand over the years, recent events have threatened the fragile situation on the Thai-Burmese border.  Funding has been cut in the area and partner NGOs have withdrawn. Local partners have turned to WEAVE to alleviate the problems that with surely arise due to this decrease in funding. WEAVE has been encouraged to scale up existing income generation projects in the belief that the way to move forward is to increase self-sufficiency.

We are proud that WEAVE’s work has been recognized as an effective way to break the cycle of poverty and alleviate the stresses associated with living in refugee camps. Check out Global Goods Partners’ products from WEAVE to support the organizations continued efforts in the Thai-Burma region. These beautiful scarves woven by the Karen and Karenni women are truly a gift that gives back.

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