In the world today, no one can deny the importance of education. Yet many women in the remote mountainous areas of Northern Thailand rarely have the opportunity to be educated. Heifer International Thailand believes that providing basic education to women will broaden their world view and enhance their confidence. In collaboration with Diakonia and partner organization Karen Development Services Foundation (KDSF), Heifer Thailand has implemented the Pwo Karen Women Empowerment for Holistic Community Development Projects with the goal to improve living conditions through livestock activities as well as basic literacy programs.
The literacy program has been implemented in the Omkoi district in the Chiang Mai province with the participation of 160 Karen Pow ethnic families. As a student intern, I was able to visit the self-help groups (SHGs) in the villages of Sa-ngin Nuea and Sa-ngin Klang and observe their classes. Most of the class' members received support from their husbands to join the class. Before this class, many people were unable to read or write and lacked the confidence to speak up or travel far from their village. Now they have the opportunity to learn basic writing and reading in Thai which has boosted their confidence.
“I’m so happy to be able to attend the literacy class,” Rungtiwa Chongkopayung, 19-year-old member of the Sa-ngin Nuea village SHG said. “My husband also wants to attend. Being able to read and write is really useful because I’m able to read labels and instructions on medicine bottles, books and the news. I also feel more confident to traveling because I’m able to read signs. I’m still struggling with spelling, but I will practice more.”
Saidi Rahatsuparong, a member of the Sa-ngin Klang village SHG said before she took the class, she felt uncomfortable to travel outside of the village because she could not read. Now her life has changed because she is able to read and write. Her husband supports her attendance of the class, and is happy she has learned so much. The villagers are very grateful of the opportunities Heifer has provided. Not only have they given the people of Northern Thailand tangible gifts of livestock, but also the gift of knowledge. The members of the Sa-ngin Nuea and Sa-ngin Klang SHGs appreciate the regular guidance and support they have received from Heifer and their project partners.