The village of Ban Eh Vee Jo is located in the Taak area of Mae Hong Son and is also on the border with Chiang Mai province. It is a village of 367 people that is connected to other places by a bridge that is often flooded or unusable in rainy season. Landslides and water-borne diseases make life difficult for the villagers as do the lack of transportation options.
KHT recently constructed a new WASH System for the village with the generous support of The Randal Charitable Foundation. Their financial support has made it possible to save and change lives for marginalised Karen people in Ban Eh Vee Jo.
Suthida is a young Karen woman who lives in the village with her siblings as her parents passed away when she was young. She is a school teacher and is passionate about education and ensuring Karen children do not miss out. She completed her education in Chiang Mai and has returned to her village to help children reach the same opportunities she was able to. Her achievements and her attitude towards her community is admirable and inspiring!
When I was younger I used to walk up to 30 minutes to collect water with bamboo. Sometimes we need to do this three times a day. For washing ourselves and our clothes we used to walk to the river and we also had no working latrines back then. Although some things have improved, we still don’t have water in the dry season and less than we need even in the rainy season that is safe.
The village is isolated and it is difficult to implement infrastructure projects, which has meant that the older government water system has stopped working. The village has grown too, and therefore the basic latrine units present are not adequate or available to everyone.
The lack of enough and enough clean water had left many villagers very unwell. Many needed hospital care and the village is too poor to afford constructing anything ourselves. KHT coming here gave us hope again.
KHT’s team visited the isolated village to complete site surveys and then to begin construction. More than 20 villagers also helped in the construction of the system which is vital for the completion of the project and a form of participatory development. We helped set up a ‘Water Committee’ that will look after the system and we also built 25 new latrines for the most deprived families. Our team also conducted hygiene training which was well received by everyone.
Suthida’s education and her commitment to educating Karen children is vital to the community. She is now one of the many villagers that will benefit from better health and dignity and improve the well being of the Karen community overall. There are also 200 children in the village and elders that will be less at risk of water-borne diseases and health issues thanks to the WASH system as a whole.
I hope this system will mean less health issues and so children will miss less school and farmers will not be unwell during harvest times. It is good to know there are people who care about the Karen and are interested in our culture.
KHT will be returning to the village to complete its Monitoring and Evaluation in May 2024 and verify the impact of the project. We will also return during the year to test the water and speak to the Water Committee, as well as to see how else we can support the village.
KHT and its beneficiaries would like to thank The Randal Charitable Trust for their compassion and support in making this intervention a reality.