16 Apr The show will go on!
Army clampdown forces MAE Foundation
to suspend fundraising
Despite new problems caused by a Thai army clampdown on access to the refugee camps we work with on the border with Myamar (Burma), another thousand MAE Foundation ukeleles and penny whistles have recently been delivered to the children in the Mae La camp.
We are investigating a number of new ideas and approaches, and we’re hoping to resume our fundraising concerts in the UK in the first half of 2016.
Since the military junta, the National Council for Peace and Order, came to power in Thailand in May 2014, it has become much harder for the MAE Foundation to continue its music education programmes for children in the Mae La refugee camp near the town of Mae Sot, on the border with Myanmar (Burma).
Our key collaborator on the ground, closest to the refugee camps, reports that the situation is affecting the work of many charities in the area.
“ It is very difficult for anyone to get access from Mae Sot on a regular basis since the military government took over… ”
he tells us, even the refugee-run craft shops on the main road past Mae La have recently been closed down by the authorities.
Nevertheless, we have managed to deliver another 1,000 instruments (ukeleles, guitars and penny whistles) in the last few months and our established music learning programmes are still continuing, using the teachers we have recruited inside the camp. The second Mae Foundation Songbook is almost ready to go to print and we are hoping to be able to get this and the associated recordings of the new songs into Mae La this winter.
Investigating new approaches
We are now researching the idea of starting work in some of the other, more remote, refugee camps and we are examining new ways of getting more instruments into Mae La and recruiting and paying the teachers remotely. But, for the moment, short of parachuting ukeleles (and teachers) in, there is little we can do to extend our music programme there.
One of our people, a British ukelele teacher, is currently in Moulmein, 50 miles southwest of Mae La, looking at the possibility of starting a Mae Foundation music teaching programme in the Karen areas inside Myanmar.
With these and other activities we can’t talk about here, there is a lot going on. but, to be frank, there are a lot of new barriers to overcome.
More concerts likely in summer 2016
Due to the current uncertainty, the MAE Foundation has had to suspend its fundraising activities for 2015.
We are hoping for better news over the next few months and expecting to be able to resume our fundraising concerts in 2016.
Please bear with us. The 60,000 refugee children in the camps on the Thai border – the “kids between countries” – are still living in primitive conditions and need all the help we can give them. Those who have started our music programmes are learning fast and hugely enthusiastic, and we are determined to consolidate and expand our activities as soon as circumstances allow. Thank you for all your support.
Photo courtesy of Time.com