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Project information

Building a Better Future

To transform the livelihoods of one of the poorest communities in South East Asia by reversing the cycle of poverty through sustainable development. Land will be regenerated to increase crop production, transport provided so children can have an education and disease prevented for better health.

3 years

Charity information: The Karen Hilltribes Trust

The Karen Hilltribes Trust logo
  • Need


    The Karen are an underprivileged ethnic minority within Thailand. They have settled in mountainous regions where the climate is extreme and their livelihoods are at threat from poverty and disease. People live of less than £1 per day, children cannot get to school and 80-90% of families do not have enough food to eat.


    Having built up a partnership with the Karen community, we will ensure sustainable, community led solutions are found to these problems through our health, education and agriculture projects. Clean water systems and mosquito nets reduce disease; buses, meals and scholarships give access to education; irrigation systems and a tractor bring flood damaged land back into production. Most importantly, our staff in Thailand are Karen; they understand the local needs and ensure we can make a difference

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Improve health


    » Install clean water systems to reduce typhoid and other stomach diseases; distribute mosquito nets to fight against malaria

    What success will look like

    Surveys of villages will detail the levels of malaria, typhoid, and other diseases before and after the project

    Aim 2

    Improve access to education


    » Provide free school meals, a school bus service and scholarships to university and vocational college

    What success will look like

    School attendance will be monitored, and students given a scholarship will send their results and a report to each donor

    Aim 3

    Reduce poverty


    » Build new dams and canals to bring rice fields back into production, use a tractor to help clear flooded land, provide food when there is a shortage

    What success will look like

    Our project manager can measure a village's self-sufficiency in rice before and after a new irrigation project is installed

  • Impact


    In the long term our aim is to empower the Karen community to help themselves and become self sufficient. Each aim supports the next in a cycle of development benefits. We demonstrate success through up to date statistics and also very personal information on the ground as projects are installed. We collect photos and information on every village we work in. Our impact is measured by the parts of the community which can now support themselves, by funding education or where disease is eliminated


    The main risk to this project is the extreme climate and flooding making some areas impossible to reach during the rainy season. Through 20 years of experience, our local staff know the terrain and have suitable vehicles and skills to adapt to this problem. We make sure that projects are maintained by ensuring the support of the local community is 100% before starting work. The risk of projects becoming sustainable is therefore mitigated with local knowledge and understanding


    We report to donors with photo documentation, statistics, receipts for capital purchases and full narrative description of the project. Through day to day communication with Thailand and regular visits from the charity Director we are able to make sure reports are up to date and accurate

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £30,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £7,000 Clean Water Gravity fed system prodives year round access and rapidly reduces disease
      £5,000 Sanitation Latrine and shower units improve hygiene
      £6,000 Irrigation Solid dams and canals bring land back into production
      £3,000 School Meals Feed children at school for a year
      £4,000 School Buses Provides transport to secondary school
      £2,000 Scholarships An opportunity for young people to further their studies
      £3,000 Blankets and Nets Provisions to prevent cold and disease
  • Background


    The Karen live in 100 square miles of Northwest Thailand next to the border with Burma. We work in the Mae Hong Son province. The locations of the villages are remote, the terrain mountainous and the climate very hot. The Karen live in small villages, often without electricity, in stilted houses and are subsistence farmers. The staple food is rice, after which crops like garlic and soya are grown during the dry season


    The Karen people, numbering 400,000, who have settled in Thailand. They are very poor compared to the rest of the population with the majority living below the World Bank's poverty line of £1 per day. The Karen originated outside of Thailand but suffered from persecution and disease, forcing them to migrate and re-settle in Thailand. While they have the right to public services they cannot have a full education or access to health facilities because they are too poor.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We are an experienced international NGO having worked in this region since 1999. Our staff in Thailand are all Karen and know the needs on the ground. We understand that development must be sustainable so ensure that we work through the local community who design and implement all our projects. As a small UK based charity we keep our costs as low as possible to ensure 90% of our income is directed to projects. It is our partnership with the Karen which makes us best placed to help them

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    William Harnden

    As the Director of the charity William will plan and implement the project. He communicates daily with Thailand and visits twice a year

    Vichien Bunrachaisavan

    Vichien is our project Manager and has been working in the region for more than 20 years. He understands the needs of the Karen community

Building a Better Future


per month will feed a child at school

"We work hand in hand with the Karen. They lead it, but we provide the financial support. It's an amazing partnership"

Penelope Worsley (founder)