We were very sorry to hear of the recent death of Jim Soutar. Jim founded the predecessor to the Karen Hilltribes Trust in the late 1980s, completing many water systems in Karen villages across Chom Thong, Mae Sariang and Khun Yuam provinces. Most are still standing today, and continue to transform the lives of thousands of Karen.
He first employed Salahae in 1987, who still leads our on-the-ground work in Thailand, and introduced dozens of volunteers to the Karen people, inspiring many to remain involved as Trustees or supporters for decades afterwards. He also initiated the longstanding relationship with Gordonstoun School.
He handed the reins over to Penelope Worsley in the mid 90s, who formalised the Karen Hilltribes Trust’s charitable status in the UK and later in Thailand, building on Jim’s pioneering work. Coming from Northern Ireland, Jim had a career in the military, diplomatic service and in business before settling near Chom Thong with his wife, Mem, and family where he lived for over 30 years. All at the Karen Hilltribes Trust send their condolences to his family, and we plan to dedicate one of our 2024 projects to Jim’s memory.