The Akha people are an ethnic minority established in the mountains of Northern Thailand. They are also present in Myanmar, Laos and South China. For decades, many Akha communities in Thailand have lived on the margin of society, barely benefiting from the development of the rest of the country, with little access to electricity, drinking water, healthcare or education. From an administrative point of view, many of them are stateless and don’t have any ID, a status that prevent them from working on regular jobs outside of their isolated mountain-top villages.
For many years, a large number of the Akha villages have developped an economy of survival : small-scale farming, low-wage work for the happy few who do have an ID and thus have the right to work as taxi drivers or construction workers in low-land areas. In the most recent years, some comunity-based tourism initiatives have emerged, allowing entire families and villages to sustain. But all this has come to a brutal end.
With the current Covid situation, living conditions have seriously deteriorated, especially for the most remote villages. Like most of the rest of the world, Thailand is in lockdown. Entire hilltribe communities are isolated, working outside their village is not possible anymore and incomes have fallen to zero. Social security or financial support from the government is non existent. Food is getting scarce. Kids are not starving yet – for centuries, the surrounding forest has provided just enough to survive in times of crisis – but they do lack sufficient quantities of food and essential products. This is what this GoFundMe is for.
WHO AM I
I am a French dude, 36, with a passion for travelling, meeting new people, sharing the life of ethnic minorities. For the last 15 years, I have been exploring this part of the world on a motorcycle for a couple of months each year. I have developped strong connections with some of the Akha communities, making very good friends in those hilltop villages… spending time among the Akhas, sharing their simple life while teaching a little bit of English to the kids or giving a hand here and there to help build a wall or fix a roof. Trekking through the jungle, listening to their stories and getting to know more about their natural environment and its benefits, is another highlight.
Year after year, I have witnessed the struggle that daily life is in those communities, yet they have always welcomed me warmly, fed me, invited me to their homes, to their wedding and funeral ceremonies.
Today, late April 2020, I should have been visiting my Akha friends for a few weeks. Instead, I am confined in my flat in Paris France, getting alarming news of the situation from my friends on the other side of the world.
Setting up this GoFundMe is one way to take action, raise awareness and send a little help.
WHAT’S THE OBJECTIVE OF THIS PAGE
All the money raised with this crowdfunding will be sent to community leaders of an isolated Akha village located in the Doi Chang (Elephant Mountain) area, Chiang Rai province. Local beneficiaries will make sure the money goes where it is the most needed to support the whole community in this time of crisis. Funds will be used to buy sufficient quantities of rice, vegetables, drinking water and essential products such as clothes for the kids, toothbrushes or soap.
See ? We don’t need millions. The little help you can provide will have a real positive impact on the daily life of several families deeply affected by the current situation.
I know the Covid crisis has a terrible impact on so many lives around the world, and most likely just around your corner. Medical staff and hospitals need support, so do millions of small businesses who will probably not survive the crisis … and yet, here is another crowdfunding asking for urgent help. Sorry about that. This one is about putting food in kids’ plates and help those who are kept away from the world’s eyes.
Every little donation helps. So does sharing this page on your social networks.
--Obviously, all the pictures were taken by myself BEFORE the Covid crisis --
Thanks a lot for your support ^.^
- Passoter Stefan
- Vincent Clouzot
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