Burmese refugees at a trash dump on the Thai border request help in expanding their community piglet raising activities
Progress-hearted people in Chiang Mai, Thailand, are concerned about a community of Burmese refugees who live and work in a garbage dump in the Thai/Burma border town of Mae Sot, Thailand.
A co-founder of Evolutionize It was invited into a conversation among friends of the dump in May 2013. That meeting led to conversations with a number of organizations currently providing resources to the dump community and - most importantly - to talks with leaders at the dump community itself. Through an interpreter, the dump headmen said this was the first time anyone had asked them what they feel they need in order to see some meaningful change in their lives. (There’s more about what they said in The Trash Dump Talks.)
Piglets for Progress is their idea, and we’re supporting it by asking the world for help on their behalf.
Why This Matters
In consulting with their community, the headmen learned that the dump residents are all very concerned about their children's education. Their daily income, however, is not enough to feed their families without the kids also spending their days sifting through the trash at the dump. They can find recyclables to sell and earn a bit more than $1 per person on a good day.
In that reality, the adults alone just can't earn enough to make both food and school supplies possible. The families who are slightly better off are the 55% who are already raising a piglet or two. They sell them easily when they are grown and bring in vital cash for the family.
The headmen would like to see that every family living near the dump has 2 piglets to raise. A piglet costs about $45, and can be sold 4-5 months later with very little maintenance and total feeding costs up to $145. That's a potential profit of $90 per family per pig over 4-5 months - roughly an extra $20 per month. Two pigs per family offers a potential income of $40 per month, which is more than what one child would otherwise earn working full time on the dump. Two piglets means a child doesn’t have to work full time to help feed the family.
Two piglets to raise per family can make it possible for one or more children in a family to attend school on a daily basis instead of working on the trash dump with their parents. That's the impact Piglets for Progress is after. It’s simple, and it’s a direct request to the world of well-wishers like you, from the people who actually live at the Mae Sot trash dump. The dump parents want to offer their kids a better childhood and future. Please, let’s support them in that.
The village headmen are intent on insisting that families reinvest part of the sale price of each grown pig in another piglet, so that this globally crowdfunded investment in their progress will sustain itself financially for years to come. Keeping grown pigs long enough to reproduce is a potential evolution that will be explored with a veterinarian we will invite to visit the dump.
They are raising a dark variety of pigs that are both hardy and especially delicious, also found back home in the forests of Burma. There is an existing market of people in Mae Sot who already come to the dump to buy pigs from the 60 families there who are
currently raising them.
If you would like to purchase a grown pig from a family at the Mae Sot trash dump for private delivery in Thailand, please contact us.
Structuring the Risks
Like with all projects, there are some potential risks that have shaped how we're structuring this global appeal and local delivery process. Below we outline our plans.
• Phase 1: 50 piglets introduced. Our tipping point of $3476 will pay for an initial 50 piglets, to be delivered to those families in the dump community who are not yet raising pigs. (In our video we said 40, but an accurate count has revealed 50 families currently without supplemental income from raising piglets.)
Additional phase 1 funds will be used to engage a veterinary doctor to speak with all of the dump families about bovine illnesses and reproduction. We will also keep funds in reserve to provide for medicines and transportation, as needed. An interpreter/coordinator will be paid a $45 per month (1500 Thai Bhat) stipend for 5 months (renewable), in order to facilitate Mae Sot logistics and ongoing communication with the dump community. This first phase will give the community the opportunity to observe how well the dump can sustain an increase in the population of piglets there. Since piglets tend to stay healthier in the dry season, our aim is to deliver the first 50 piglets to the dump in November/December 2013.
• Phase 2: 110 additional piglets introduced. Incorporating the lessons learned from introducing the first 50 piglets, the additional $7107 raised will enable us to continue pursuing the dump's plan of providing a second piglet to each of the 110 families who live at the dump. The delivery of a second piglet to each family might happen all at once at the beginning of another dry season, or it might happen in phases, depending on how fast the total budget is raised, and what we learn from introducing first 50.
If by chance we raise more funds than we need, or it turns out that the dump can't sustain all the piglets we've raised funds for, any funds remaining will be used - only after continued dialogue with the community - toward continued progress in achieving the community’s goal of getting kids off of the dump and into classrooms.
In the case we don't raise enough funds for 110 piglets in phase 2, we will focus first on families with school age children. In the interest of maintaining peace and harmony in the community, however, it is the headmen's clear preference that everyone should benefit from this initiative, and that the entire budget be raised.
Financial and virtual supporters of the Piglets for Progress campaign will be updated on the campaign's fundraising and delivery progress on at least a bi-monthly basis for 1 year, at both Startsomegood.com and PigletsforProgress.org. Our team is using a RACI framework for internally managing the funds raised by the Piglets for Progress campaign. RACI outlines to all involved who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed. Our framework is publicly viewable and includes names and links to the people who are playing an active role. It even tells you how some awe-inspiring activist monks we know are involved in keeping us accountable. Piglets for Progress's Budgets and Expenditure Records will also be maintained in publicly viewable spreadsheets.
Some really great folks have contributed a lot to moving this effort forward, including:
Saya Saw Lwin Oo (a.k.a. Tar Eh).
Additional debts of gratitude are owed to the individuals listed on this page for their gracious company along the learning journey which has evolved into the Piglets for Progress campaign.
Thank you all for supporting this community. Please make your contribution today, and learn more about the Mae Sot trash dump families at PigletsforProgress.org.
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Change Through Collaboration