Give a man a fish or teach him to fish—or empower him to train up a village of fishermen?
Health and Share Foundation (HSF) chose the third option when they set out to empower and train Community Action Groups (CAG) across 35 of its target areas in the province of Ubon Ratchathani.
CAG is a grassroots group consisting of volunteers who receive training to manage issues relating to vulnerable individuals, unregistered births, and more.
“HSF is on the outside, we are on the inside. We work hand-in-hand to help the vulnerable Thai and [unregistered] people in our village.”
– Jantee Pansopu, 51
It aims to help vulnerable Thai and Lao people alleviate their standards of living by being the first line of support right at their doorstep.
In Na Hin Ngon village, the CAG has successfully conducted numerous health promotion and rights education activities through the convening of self-help groups. Since its inception, they have also already identified and referred 13 cases to HSF, all of whom have received some forms of support ranging from DNA testing to secure documentation to scholarships to stay in school – these would not have been possible without HSF’s upfront investment in local community leadership.
“We learnt so many things. HSF taught us to practice empathy. In the past, we had no status, no knowledge, and no confidence. Now, I feel empowered to conduct outreach and help others. I feel happy when I see their happy smiles and eyes.”
– Venus Tongsopa, 35
With the positive results garnered, HSF seeks to replicate this success across other regions. In the long run, it hopes to provide sustained leadership training and support, empowering every CAG to enact change wherever they are.