We spent two days in the Buriram province, where seemingly endless rice paddies are just a piece of the primary industry here: agriculture. The Buriram province is 380 kilometers east northeast of Bangkok, 68 kilometers from the Cambodian border.
Villagers here in northeastern Thailand, Isarn in Thai, are among the country’s poorest. They rarely continue in school past sixth grade. They send family members away to earn money to pay debts, sometimes through prostitution. They resist trust, a result of too many broken promises from government and ephemeral NGO handouts. But their spirits are high, and with modest loans and business training, they are learning to be self-sufficient.
PDA runs three centers in Isarn, with programs ranging from environmental awareness to HIV and AIDS prevention to democracy and rural development to business development. (For more information about PDA and our project, see the About and Executive Summary links in the sidebar.) The range of programs, businesses and people we saw gave us insight into the changes we need to make to our curriculum before we pilot it here next week.
Their stories are in the posts below.