It has been close to 4 months since I started working with MAP Foundation. I’ve had plenty on my plate throughout this time.
In the first blog, I mentioned having met three foreign friends at the foundation. A week after that post, three more joined the team. So here, I want to share a little bit about them. They are interns from Emory University in the States. They have a partnership with MAP Foundation, where they support safe and healthy working conditions for Burmese migrant workers in Thailand. The Emory University team was partnered with MAP Foundation through a non-profit called GlobMed. Throughout the year, GlobeMed has a long-term partnership with MAP that helps us achieve the mission, which is supporting global health issues. Every summer some of these students come and intern for MAP. This summer there were 6 interns including Wendy, Becky, Beatrice, Sasicha, Kay, and Alex. Some of these interns are in the same year as me, if not close in year. They stayed here for two months. Throughout their time here they developed a new project that I was able to be a part of. I feel very excited and fortunate that I had the opportunity!
Great friendships will begin!
The project they developed was an English course for everyone in MAP, including staff and volunteers. They made an English pretest to gauge everyone’s English level. The classes were then divided into three sections: beginning, intermediate, and advanced. Everyone had classes from 9:30-10:30 AM on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I was placed in the advanced level class. I was taught by Becky and Beatrice who are very nice and friendly. We got a long very well. Furthermore, they taught us about multimedia such as presentation programs and Microsoft programs. These are very useful for our work. In addition, they had a project for MAP Radio which included doing statistical surveys and data analysis with migrant workers who listened to MAP Radio in Chiang Mai and Mae Sot. During our free time on weekends, we spent a lot of time hanging out together. I had a great time with these new friends and I love them all.
My work in the past three months…
The LRA (Labour Rights for All) project that I work with normally organizes a monthly labour rights and domestic workers exchange session.
The labour right exchanges allows for migrant workers to gather together to exchange their experiences and to express their points of view. This allows them to discuss the labour situation in Thailand, especially about how it has changed since the Thai Army seized power in a coup and declared overnight curfews. The migrants discussed how the curfew has affected many Myanmar migrants and their business owners. Since this enforcement, Myanmar migrants in Chiang Mai get paid the minimum daily wage of 300 THB without overtime. This overtime payment is necessary for most of these migrants to be able to live day to day and not having this has really created difficulties for them.
Another activityis the domestic workers exchanges. In the meetings people gather to share information on the domestic worker situations. Recently, Fai and I also had the opportunity to teach how to make dishwashing liquid. This was the migrants’ favorite activity because they found it to be really useful for their daily lives. They can make it in their free time and use it in their household or at work. After this exchange we all sat down to eat together, like a family.
Time for ‘MAP Retreat’
During 25-27 June 2014, MAP organized a workshop for staff and volunteers from Chiang Mai and Mae Sot. I found this to be very useful for everyone. With the help of experts we were able to discuss past and future work. We were able to use strategic planning. The different departments reviewed their work by using the SWOT method (which stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). Through this method the different teams reviewed the work done within the past 6 months, and prepared future goals and work for the future 6 months. In my team we were able to review the labour situation and estimate the situation through its strong and weak points through the last year. The retreat lasted for three days and everyone learned from their mistakes and more about each others work. The important point is that every team created a strategic plan for the future. In this workshop I gained a lot of knowledge, such as strategic planning skills, reviewing our work, and sharing information with others
I have had the chance to interrogate and note information on different cases. One of the problems facing migrant workers is not receiving fair wages from their employers. This is especially true with domestic workers. The main point is that employers and workers are not satisfied with one another. Employers are unsatisfied with the work of their employees. The second point is that we had a case that involved two sisters. One day the older sister had to go back to Myanmar and she asked her younger sister to fill in at work for her for half a month. Both of the employees did not get their salary payment. They came to consult MAP. Together, we were able to reach an understanding with the employer. He agreed to pay both of the sisters but he would pay them less than originally agreed. This is because it was concluded that one of the sisters was inefficient with her work and had not done a good job. The sisters were okay with this deal and a conclusion was reached. I learned a big lesson from this case, which is to listen to both sides of the story. Both sides must be given a fair chance, we must control the situation and negotiate until a final conclusion is reached. The important point is no matter what the conclusion is, we must respect both sides’ requirements in every case.
I learn so much from working with MAP. I would love to write about every activity. They are fun and challenging for me but there are so many new experiences that I can’t write about all of them. I only have two months left. I will get the most out of my time with MAP. I want to say thank you to Saphan Siang Campaign, my host organization, and every reader for reading my article! I hope you enjoy reading about my journey. See you all in my next blog – Thanks!