Mae Hong Son is a remote province situated on the Myanmar and Northern Thailand border. About 64% of the population of Mae Hong Son live below the poverty line, many of whom belong to marginalised ethnic minorities such as the Karen.
Karen communities have limited access to basic socioeconomic services such as healthcare and education, and a disproportionate majority depend on subsistence agriculture for their livelihood.
Getting to school can be a challenge for Karen children who live in poor conditions in the remote mountainous region of northern Thailand. Most villages have a primary school within 10 kms of the village, secondary schools can be 50 kms away and High Schools even further.
The Karen Hilltribes Trust (KHT) is dedicated to increasing access to education for marginalised Karen communities, and one way it does this is through the provision of school bus service. 18 community owned school bus services have been established across 30 Karen communities. This year the school bus services, operated by members of local Karen communities, provided 437 children access to education every day for 12 months. Each month, the community members responsible for the services received financial support from KHT. This contribution was used to cover the cost of fuel and maintenance of the buses, as well as a small salary for the drivers. In most communities, parents contributed to the costs where possible, with KHT covering the remaining costs.
The Karen Hilltribes Trust (KHT), a UK-based charity, was founded by Penelope Worsley in 1999 after the tragic death of her son Richard Worsley, who had previously spent six months volunteering with the Karen people. The Trust’s vision is to “see the Karen people empowered to help themselves in a sustainable way” and is being realised through 3 key developmental objectives:
- To improve health
- To improve education
- To create income generation