Pang Sa, Thailand
Chiang Rai Province, the northernmost state of Thailand, in the “Golden Triangle” where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet.
Lisu and Lahu, two of the six major “hill tribes” or ethnic minorities in the region.
Lisu and Lahu (tribal languages) are spoken in the homes; some people also speak Thai, which may be taught in schools.
The “hill tribes” of northern Thailand live as they have for a thousand years. Originally from the highland areas of China and Burma (Myanmar), which they fled due to fighting in those countries, they now live in the bamboo forests of the northern hill country, where Thailand meets Laos and Myanmar. While some have become Christian or Muslim, many celebrate their ancient animist religions, with celebrations in local communities featuring music, feasting, and dancing. Their homes are made of bamboo, and they raise chickens and pigs, and grow rice as a staple food. Due to the abject poverty of the region, community-based tourism is being developed as an alternative to other undesirable ways of generating income (such as selling young children into sexual slavery).
Our liaison is Chookiat Kananusappkul, also known as “Poo.” Poo is Thai (i.e. not from the “hill tribes”), but he works for the Hill Area Development Foundation, a nonprofit groups that works with ethnic minorities in the hill region of northern Thailand. The community-based tourism project in the region is run by Natural Focus, a group formed in 2000 in collaboration with the hill tribe people for sustainable tourism.
We have been working in Pang Sa since 1999. We work with the Hill Area Development Foundation, the nonprofit group that works with ethnic minorities in the hill region of northern Thailand. In addition to helping with their community-based tourism project, we have funded and built a community center, a bridge, a communal kitchen, and a school.
We also provide funds for the Thai Girls Education Fund, allowing girls who are potential victims of child prostitution due to the poverty of their families to attend school instead.
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