Refugees International Japan visits refugee communities around the world on a regular basis so that we can see at first hand the kind of impact your donations have. We are used to hearing bad news from countries affected by war. However, the people we meet, who are doing their best for their families and their communities, always impress our teams. Their resilience is amazing. The programs we fund help them to rebuild their lives and prepare for the return home.
VISIT REPORT - Thai-Burma border projects
Refugees International Japan’s first mission was working with refugees in Thailand. This was in response to the outflow of refugees from Cambodia. Since then funding spread to other areas of Thailand where there are large populations of refugees. These days the majority of refugees in Thailand are from various regions of Burma. Refugees International Japan has a long history of working with groups on the Thai-Burma border as well as funding projects with Internally Displaced People within Burma.
For more than five decades, Burma has been entrenched in political and armed conflict between the repressive ruling military regime, political opponents, and ethnic groups, resulting in the displacement of over 3.5 million Burmese.
Today, 150,000 Burmese (of various ethnic groups) reside in 9 Thai temporary displaced persons camps assisted by the Thai Burmese Border Consortium and UNHCR. Hundreds of thousands of other Burmese, particularly the Shan,live as illegal migrants without access to refugee status or assistance despite having experienced persecution and conflict in Burma.
Earthrights International Alumni programs - graduates of Earthrights School prepare proposals for small projects within a budget of 2,000 USD. This gives them an opportunity to put their studies into practice. As we travelled around on this visit, we met many previous alumni from the program - we could see the impact of the program in the variety of projects undertaken and the ripple effect as the beneficiaries extended their work further.
Women’s Capacity Development Program - young women in Karenni camp 1 learn about their rights, avoiding conflict in the community and leadership. The women we spoke to told how the training empowered them to take the lead on community issues and to learn to work together despite the confines of life in camp.
Social Development Center - also in Karenni camp 1, this year-long project conducts training on conflict resolution, peaceful negotiations, human rights and the environment. They showed us a presentation on the program and an impressive list of the variety of work that graduates have gone on to after the course, many of them taking their learning back into Burma to help communities there.
Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Education - a valuable community project working with youth and families in five camps. We met groups of young people who organise various activities in the camps to give people focus and use these events to educate people on the dangers of addiction. Addiction is a common problem as people despair and lose sight of their ambitions.
Baby kits for mothers inside Burma and in camps on the border - the Karen Women’s Organisation run this program as well as many others on the border and inside Karen state, Burma. RIJ funded a project in the community center at Ho Kay in Karen state and we learnt that is is now self-sufficient. We discussed funding for baby kits in Ee Htoo IDP camp in Karen state.
Providing facilities for IDP children wishing to pursue education in safe environment - this is a new project for Refugees International Japan. We met the members in charge of the project and heard their plans for improving the facilities in Nuh Poe camp. We did not have time to visit the camp on this visit.