Fairchild serves Burmese refugees in Thailand
Living the University of Wisconsin-Parkside hallmark of service, Health, Exercise Science and Sport Management Lecturer Ali Fairchild traveled to Thailand this winter break to serve with a team from Venture Expeditions. While there, she visited many cities including Mae Ramat, Chiang Khong, Chiang Mai, and Bangkok.
In Thailand, Fairchild was able to work with many Burmese refugees who have fled to Thailand because of the civil war that has been happening in Burma for the last 60 years. The Karen people have been the main victims of the war (although there have been many other groups affected) and more than 150,000 Karen people have fled to refugee camps in Thailand.
Fairchild's team was able to briefly experience what life is like for the people living as refugees, by visiting Mae La camp--the largest in Thailand which is currently housing around 80,000 people. The team also hiked out into the Thailand/Burma border region to visit a "squatter" village. Squatters are Burmese who have fled to Thailand, but have nowhere to go because all the refugee camps are full. These refugees find open land wherever they can in the mountainous jungle region and make their homes out of bamboo, mud, and leaves.
"I chose to go on this trip to see first-hand the conditions many Burmese people face and to help try to improve the situation by meeting some of their basic needs," Fairchild said. "Also, [I wanted] to be able to come back to the states and share my story and experiences in hopes of inspiring others to get involved in the cause."
Other memorable moments from the trip include visiting a refugee orphanage, visiting Watkirikat elementary school, serving at Ban Pong community center, and hosting a Christmas village block party.
Reflecting on her trip, Fairchild said, "This trip reminded me there are people in our world that live with no running water, no electricity, and no bed to sleep on. From seeing these conditions and interacting with the refugees I am forever changed. I have an entirely new perspective on not only my life, but our world as a whole!"To hear more about her trip or to learn more about the cause, please contact Fairchild at firstname.lastname@example.org via email.