Education and professional training
The Moken are an ethnic minority, nomadic gypsies of the sea, who settled on a small island in the Andaman Sea that was totally devastated in the 2004 tsunami. Afterwards, they were found suffering from malnutrition and infested with vermin, starving to death. Liked their ancestors, they have continued to practice freedive fishing, spear in hand. Now they also use nets. Most of these exceptional swimmers live under the absolute poverty line.
Today, all the children are in school and are doing well. The first educated generation is reaching the end of the school programme and most of them are not registered citizens (no identity card). They therefore do not have access to further training or jobs or medical care. When they do find work, it is mainly in bars where the young women are exploited and mistreated and the young men are hired to fish using dynamite for rather unscrupulous characters!
The J&O Foundation is taking action by providing these young people with vocational training in waste management. Waste disposal is a difficult problem in the region and we contribute to finding solutions, motivated by the fact that it is of direct interest to our mission. While cleaning up the area, we provide vocational training, jobs, integration and education, all in a sustainable development approach.
Our approach is fully in keeping with the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda and its 17 sustainable development goals giving fair consideration to the economic aspect, the social aspect and the environmental aspect of sustainable development.
The project is based on 3 programmes:
- Our Moken Guardians of the Seaproject, whose goal is to persuade the Moken to gather plastics/waste at sea when they go fishing. Our social enterprise is prepared to buy the plastics gathered. We are currently looking for possibilities for recycling the plastics, which is not easy. They are considered worthless for conventional recycling. But options do exist. We are in contact with a Spanish group actively working in sustainable mode. Partnerships with two Thai petrochemical groups are also being envisaged.
- A small social enterprise has been set up at Ranong, where it rents a hangar used as a waste holding centre. For now, we are focusing on gathering paper and plastic. Partnerships have been formed with schools and paper producers as well as the courts, shops and temples. Young Moken can study waste management professions, but also communication, the use of social media, marketing and environmental protection.
- Bringing together small-scale trades, rag pickers and scrap metal dealers in the Ranong region and encouraging them to join our network and sell the waste they gather to our social enterprise. This helps to promote and give structure to their activities while providing them with good working conditions.
Pilot project for Thailand. In case of success, the other groups of people economically and socially marginalized (immigrated, male prostitutes, patients reached by the AIDS) can follow this example.