One of the key roots of wildfire in the north nowadays derives from slash-and-burn agriculture to grow single crops. This contributes to the high level of particle pollution surpassing the acceptable standards; the recurring phenomenon takes place every year from March to April. It is considered one of the critical air pollution problems pressing Mae Hong Son and other northern provinces alike. Wildfire also leads to drought crisis, which is caused by the depletion of moisture and fertility of the soil, resulted by the deforestation.
Around the end of the last summer, Pai River Wildlife Sanctuary joined hands with Pangmapha Area Development Programme of World Vision Foundation of Thailand to support a youth group called Ban Kuet Samsip New Wave, which volunteered in the making of the community firebreak in Soppong sub-district. Over 62 volunteers from different villages also collaborated in this activity. The firebreak is made by clearing the space to create a strip which separates Pai River Wildlife Sanctuary area from the community forest. The process is repeated yearly to get rid of vegetation, which is combustible material, in the firebreak strip. The activity has been conducted as the community annual joint effort.
Somkid Jaidee, a staff of Pangmapha Area Development Programme, was sharing about the background of the youth group in Ban Kuet Samsip. “Lisu teenagers in Kuet Samsip Community were always just hanging around drinking. The adults simply regarded them with an insult as the junior gangsters or bullies who were just passing their time frivolously. Yet, WVFT would rather capacitate them to become the new generation of village development core leaders, so we called a village meeting to ask for a chance to give the kids development and, in return, to have them pay back to the society. Through these couple of years, the youth have proved themselves not frivolous.”
Aside from the promotion of youth core leaders group development in Ban Kuet Samsip, Pangmapha Area Development Programme has also support the establishment of 6 other youth associations, including kids club, child and youth core leaders groups and youth groups, by upholding child and youth life skills, encouraging the youngsters to get together to brainstorm for good ideas and not waste their free time, but rather spend it constructively to do valuable activities to benefit the community on the monthly basis. These include organizing anti-drug rallies and sports competitions, making firebreaks, improving community water storage sources, repairing and painting the village hall. In addition, the project has also provided training to capacitate the youth groups and coordinated with other agencies to support the youth groups to do further activities.
Mrs Phatsorn, a community volunteer, joyfully talked about the positive changes of the local youngsters. “I’m so glad that the kids get themselves busy with the clubs’ activities. That means less involvement with vices.”
“Today the adults in the community become aware of the importance of the youth and more supportive for us. The village head has proposed to the sub-district administrative organization chief officer to ask for budget for us to carry out some activities. I’m really happy that teenagers like us get to contribute to the community. Ahku bumu (Thank you).” Phanupong, the youth group vice president spoke from his heart.
Danuphon, 12, a sponsored child and a group member said “I felt good and had fun in these activities and development camps held by WVFT staff, which I’ve joined every year. I’ve also participated in anti-drug rallies and played soccer in community anti-drug sports events.”