I’ve written before about the WanderTours Giving Program, our way of giving back to communities we visit on our tours. A portion of each participant’s tour cost is donated to a worthy cause at our destination. Recipient organizations generally are ones which support women and children, as they are most likely to be marginalized in many of the countries we visit, and we’d like to see that change. Besides, it seems like a natural choice for a mainly women-centric tour company to support!
On our upcoming tour to Thailand, we’ve chosen to support Women’s Education for Advancement and Empowerment (WEAVE) and thought we’d offer a peek behind the scenes of this organization.
WEAVE – founded in 1990 – is committed to teaching women to become socially, economically and politically empowered, thus allowing them to be free to exercise their human rights. Early on, with the influx of refugees from Burma, many of WEAVE’s projects became focused on the issues – such as the lack of education, health, economic empowerment and self-reliance – faced by marginalized ethnic women and children.
WEAVE’s projects are based in five Karen and Karenni refugee camps as well as Thai villages along the Thai/Burma border. They’ve recently extended their work to also cover the Indo-Burmese border.
Three of their major projects are:
Early Childhood Development
This project provides technical and financial assistance to over 4,500 preschool children, both inside and outside of Thai/Burmese refugee camps. WEAVE uses an inclusive approach to education, ensuring the inclusion of children with special learning needs. Local teachers are trained, which cuts down on reliance on NGOs, and parents are encouraged to participate in their child’s education so that there is a continuity of purpose between school and the home.
Economic Empowerment and Development
As you can imagine, economic opportunities within a refugee camp are scarce, particularly for women: and yet they are often responsible for providing for both themselves and their children. WEAVE’s approach is a practical one; by creating concrete projects which allow displaced women and girls to generate income, they are also giving them the tools they need to fight poverty and gender discrimination. The women attend class to learn about micro-credit, micro-finance, marketing and small business development. This program currently supports three refugee camp-based projects, involving weaving, embroidery and sewing. The women work within the safety of their own homes and are able to care for their children while working.
Access to Safe Learning and Education
WEAVE works in partnership with refugee organizations to provide access to safe learning and educational spaces.
If you’re on our tour to Thailand, you’ll have the opportunity to visit the WEAVE office in Chiang Mai and learn a bit more about their work. If you aren’t able to join us and are interested in learning more about their work, you can visit their website to learn what you can do to help.
** Exciting news – We’re in the process of establishing the WanderWorld Foundation, a non-profit organization that will allow us (and our tour participants) to more easily provide funds to charities around the world. Stay tuned for details!