Education and Healthcare
Many hill tribes still live by their traditional lifestyles in the remote mountain regions, far away from cities such as Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Most of them solely rely on the income of agricultural harvest, which provides them a means to survive. However, due to their remote existence and low income (sometimes no income when the harvest proves to be a failure), their lives aren’t easy. In addition, access to education is rather limited for the youth. To go to primary school or high school, children often have to travel a few hours (from the top of the mountain all the way down), many times on foot. Any chance to continue their education (going to university in the city) is reduced due to the fact that there is no money to pay for tuition and the children are often required to help out on their family farm. For the hill tribes, going to school means paying tuition, transportation costs, sometimes sleeping accommodations near school, books, etc.
As long as the mountain inhabitants are physically strong and healthy, they can overcome the difﬁculties of the remote lifestyle in a rough environment. But for those who are not – elderly, sick people, and disabled persons – it becomes more difﬁcult. The close community will try their best to help each other, but since conditions are already harsh for everybody, their support is often not enough.
Disabled persons can only rely on family or neighbors, since they’re not ﬁt to perform work duties, take care of themselves or live independently (cooking, cleaning, washing). Sometimes they require expensive medication to help stabilize their mental conditions.
The same goes for the ill. When they are in recovery, they cannot work, take care of themselves and thus don’t have the money to buy medication to treat their disease.
The last group of people in need of support, are the elderly. For the hill tribe people, after a long life of working on the farm doesn’t come the well-deserved retirement. Therefore, in hill tribe culture having a family is essential. When they’re not able to provide for themselves anymore, their children will help. But there are elders who don’t have children, are widowed from a young age, or whose children aren’t able to take care of them.
For all of these people, we want to ﬁnd a solution. Of course, we won’t be able to help everybody (certainly not in the beginning), but just watching and standing idly by is not an option, either. Through sponsorship for studies, providing housing for youth to get better access to education, supplying food packages and other needed supplies, as well as improving living conditions (rebuilding the sanitary facilities, sewage or repairing the house) and even just a simple visit and conversation are a few things we can do to improve their lives. Through the income of the elephant park and the generosity of people through donations, we hope to achieve our goal of helping those in need.