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MTI on the Thai / Burma Border

The Kingdom of Thailand with a population of 62 million+ lies in the heart of Southeast Asia and is a neighbour to Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia. Thailand has a highly revered monarchy with the present King Bumhipol reigning for more than 50 years. 95% Thai follow Buddhism and the King is the upholder of the Buddhist religion.

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Sangkhlaburi is a quiet trading town in western Thailand, situated on a lake along the border with Myanmar.

Living beside the lake are many minority Hill tribe people groups, who have fled Myanmar and entered Thailand through the Three Pagoda Pass. Three Pagoda Pass is named after a trio of historic cone shaped chedis. Hundreds of years ago, this was the place where marauding Burmese armies marched into Thailand on their traditional invasions.

In 1988, the Burmese army attacked Three Pagoda Pass and burned the town to the ground. Today, the border crossing is closed, a silent witness to the struggles from the past. There is a dusty market with a collection of stalls selling burmese clothes, synthetic gems, blankets and teak furniture. Minority groups such as the Lao, Mon and Karen who have come through the border, are not recognized by the Thailand government. Without any identity cards, their prospects of finding employment are severely limited.

Consequently, these tribal people are among the most impoverished people in the area, as they are forced to lead a secluded lifestyle and to rely on fishing from the lake and labouring on local rubber plantations and other farms as their main source of livelihood. Minority children also face the problem of illiteracy as they are prohibited from studying in Thai schools.

Income Generation and Training

Mercy Teams International (MTI) has established initiatives amongst the Tribal people and refugees in this area. 

Short term teams regularly visit, teaching English as they have opportunity.

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The tale of the Karen Burmese is one of a people who have been on the run for years. Thousands of families now survive in the jungle, fleeing from the raids on their villages.

A Mon village on the border comprises 1,800 (est.) villagers who are Mon, Karen, and Burmese. 

MTI has built a concrete block and slab community school for refugee children in this Thai-Burma Border area.  The school provides a Christian education for close to 130 largely Burmese, Mon and Karen children from the Mon village where it is situated,  and from the surrounding community.

Local Burmese are employed as the teachers and MTI workers provide the materials and training for them. The children are beautiful, full of life, and love learning. 


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A very basic residential facility is provided at the school for 20 of the poorest and neediest children.  Some of these are orphans, are living at the school because they have nowhere else to stay during the school term.



A medical / Dental facility has been built on the school grounds which is easily accessible to the whole community.  Currently a nurse and dentist visit from time-to-time and provide free care to the villagers and school children.    Educational talks are also presented to groups of women on nutrition, health, and family issues. 

A pick-up truck, donated to MTI provides transportation for visiting teams of international short-term volunteers donating their time and skills.  The truck is also used for providing supplies to the school (a half hour drive from the nearest town) and (on occasions) people needing emergency medical help.   




Access to clean drinking water has been impossible and is bought and transported to the school. Water for other purposes has been scarce , but recently visiting teams have dug a well, installed a generator and pump.  Although the water is not 'potable' (able to be used for drinking), other uses will be found (certainly cleaning and possibly growing food for the Children's Home)



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The recent addition of Solar Power has added lights for the Children's home and a few other areas including the house where some of the school's teachers live.




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