Nestled in the hillside about 25 kilometres outside of Mae Sot, NamTok is an agricultural community near Thailand’s border with Myanmar. Named after the nearby waterfall (literally translates as waterfall), the children of NamTok come from families where labour has become a way of life. As a migrant school for Burmese families, NamTok has to make it’s own way and cover it’s expenses. Originally opened in 2006, the school had been buying water for the then 128 students and 7 teachers. The monthly cost of this was equal to two weeks salary for one teacher. When a water filtration system was installed, it was a financial game-changer for the school and ensured the students, and the wider community, access to clean and affordable drinking water.
Before NamTok, Imagine Thailand had never done a clean water project. In 2008 the Burmese Migrant Workers Education Committee (BMWEC) contacted us to help with the water situation at the school, our team was thrilled at the opportunity to help in a new way. When asked how it gone done, Pacharawan Nawaroongniran, our Country Director, smiled and said, “we just did it. Though we had never done it before, it was exciting”. Pacharawan recalls fondly the day the water filtration system was installed at the school. Along with a colleague from Imagine Thailand, she rode out to the school on her motorbike on a sunny October day. We didn’t realize then how that clean water project would spark something within us.
Eight years after installation, the school has grown to over 300 students and the water filtration system has been expanded for greater capacity and a pre-softener unit was added to better treat the water which is pumped in from the waterfall by a village pipeline. Our relationship with the school has also continued to grow as we produce and deliver nutrient rich soy milk for the students and distribute drinking cups as part of our Cups for Kids project.
As our first clean water project, NamTok holds a special place in Imagine Thailand’s heart. To date, we have installed 50 water filtration units in migrant schools within the Mae Sot area and another 10 in schools in the neighbouring region within Myanmar.
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