Our partner for the last week of the trip is the Mirror Foundation, a well established and reputable NGO that works with the hill tribe peoples in Northern Thailand. There are estimated to be over 500,000 people in Thailand belonging to various ethnic hill tribe groups, few of whom have Thai citizenship. The Mirror Foundation has several projects including providing assistance in helping eligible hill tribe youth apply for Thai citizenship. Without citizenship, they are denied access to certain occupations and even require a permit to leave the province. Mirror also coordinates international volunteer groups to fund improvement projects in hill tribe villages.
In 2017, a group of 10 CSULB students and 2 faculty paved a 30-yard stretch of road in a village that would get flooded out a few days every year (picture above). With the road flooded, villagers weren’t able to get to their jobs and children could not attend school.
Mirror’s current focus is to build an elementary and preschool for the stateless children of the hill tribe workers living on nearby orange plantations. The Rai Som School for Stateless Children currently serves 135 students in grades Pre-K to 1, but is expected to eventually serve 300+ children in grades Pre-K to 6.
IN 2018, we sent 14 students and 2 faculty to develop and expand the Rai Som school. During this period, we created a play area, painted buildings, lay tile, and broke ground on the new classroom. Our goal is continue to support Mirror Foundation and the Rai Som school by sending student groups every January and June with funds to continue expand the school through 6th grade.