Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA Thai Burma Border Project Officer, Zoë Bedford, explains why she is so passionate about working with Burmese refugees at the School for Shan State Nationalities Youth (SSSNY).
The students at SSSNY are adult students. They have come from arduous environments – some have lived for a time in Thailand as migrant workers, some are new to Thailand having just come out of Shan State for the program. They are a mix of young men and young women from 18 to their mid 20s. Continue reading →
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA project officer, Zoë Bedford, blogs about the Umpiem Mai refugee camp fire and how donated funds are being used to aid the recovery process.
I distinctly remember the moment I received the phone call on Thursday 23rd February 2012 telling me that there was a fire raging out of control in the Umpiem Mai refugee camp on the Thai Burma border. My blood went cold and I immediately thought the worst – that there would be a large loss of life. Thankfully that was not the case, however, the loss of people’s homes and property - people who have already experienced loss when forced to become refugees – is extremely concerning.
Image left: The aftermath of the fire. Image right: Families start to return to the site of their original home and are living under plastic tarpaulins and other salvaged materials. The families have assisted in cleaning up the debris and re-stabilizing the soil in preparation for rebuilding.
As the Thai Burma border project officer, I have been to the Umpiem Mai refugee camp and the other camps that house the more than 160,000 Burmese refugees living on the border between Thailand and Burma. Each camp has its own character, but in many ways they are so very similar. Two of these similarities are devastating should a fire break out. Continue reading →
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA project officer, Matt Hilton, talks about the threat of asbestos in developing countries and APHEDA’s expansion of its asbestos disease prevention project into Lao PDR.
Australians know that asbestos kills. We are historically one of the highest per capita miners, manufacturers and consumers of asbestos in the world. Almost all public buildings and around one third of all private houses were built with asbestos. And the toll was heavy – by 2020, Australia will have had 13,000 cases of mesothelioma and over 40,000 cases of asbestos related cancer.
Broken bags of asbestos cement lie in open storage at a factory in Laos.
Globally, it is estimated that 107,000 workers each year succumb to asbestos or asbestos related cancers. And the centre of this new epidemic is Asia. The World Health Organisation estimates that 60% of the 125 million people exposed to asbestos in their homes or workplace are in Asia. And that figure is set to increase – already half of asbestos consumption occurs in Asia with 90% of the global increase in consumption between 2000 and 2004 occurring in Asia. Continue reading →
Gail Vest, Hairdressing teacher from Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT), ran a technical Hairdressing Trainer Training for five APHEDA partners during her recent stay in Cambodia. The Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey, Thmar Kul, Mong Russey and O’Reang Ov rural women’s vocational education centres each sent a trainee hairdressing trainer to upgrade their skills.
On the 21st of November we received a Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations (VUFO) award acknowledging of our significant contribution to poverty reduction and development in Vietnam. Here are some photos from the award ceremony.
This story comes to us courtesy of Laurie Kazan-Allen of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat.
Bent over in the middle of a dump, a child rummages in waste with bare hands. Behind the child, adults are using large bags to recycle plastic, wood and pieces of cement. Their bags carry the logo of Lab Chrysotile, an asbestos mine situated at Thetford Mines, Quebec.
These photos were taken on August 6 in a waste site of the factory Djabesmen, the biggest manufacturer of chrysotile asbestos roofs in Indonesia. They “clearly establish that [Canada's] national policy of exporting asbestos is so negligent as to be criminal,” states indignantly Dr Fernand Turcotte, professor emeritus in preventative medicine at Canada’s Laval University.
This image shows people, including children, in a dump full of asbestos. The dump contains waste from the Djabesmen factory, the biggest manufacturer of chrysotile asbestos roofs in Indonesia. Bags can be seen with the logo of Lab Chrysotile, an asbestos mine situation at Thetford Mines, Quebec. Photo: Muchamad Darisman
Tens of thousands of workers undertook strike action earlier this week to demand an increase in the minimum wage. Many workers were harrassed and some beaten. Many have had their employment terminated despite the strike being legal under Cambodian Labor Law.
It is also being reported that the leaders of the unions will soon have court summons issued to them.
The current minimum wage for garment workers in Cambodia is USD 61 dollars per month. Unions estimate the living wage for a worker in Phnom Penh is at least 91 USD per month. Continue reading →
Big thanks to Christine W for this post. Christine was here with us last week as a work experience student.
These women from Uatiliana village in Timor-Leste, began learning to read and write in their native Tetum one year ago. After starting with the basics, the 15 women, including a mother and daughter, are now learning local place names and other essentials for daily life.
Mae La Oo Camp
Mae Ra Moe Camp
Tens of thousands of refugees live in these camps on the Thai-Burma border . The conditions are cramped and there is little to do. All structures need to be non-permanent (made of bamboo and natural material). The camps have been there for over 25 years. For the babies born in the camps this has been their only home.
APEHDA and the national institute of Labour protection formally launched the Vietnam Asbestos Disease Prevention Project on 8th February 2010. Vietnam continues to use asbestos extensively putting workers at risk of asbestos disease. This project will establish a permanent National Resource Centre to produce research, conduct health checks for at risk workers and promote protective equipment and alternatives.
APHEDA supports health care for the elderly Palestinian residents of Bourj Al-Barajneh refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon.
Thai Burma Border Project Officer, Zoë Bedford, blogs from her monitoring visit to the Mae Tao Clinic.
The Mae Tao Clinic is changing before my very eyes, there are new buildings being built old ones being re-arranged. But one thing that has not changed is the thousands of patients.
Children, elderly people, men, women and families all milling about the clinic’s compound waiting to access the only health services they can. Today was baby vaccination day and so there were hundreds of people with their small babies waiting for the vaccination and general baby health check.
Worryingly the Mae Tao Clinic is facing a dire funding shortage this year. This funding shortage is affecting the baby care program. The Mae Tao Clinic used to provide supplementary feeding to malnourished children but is unable to do this if no donor will step in and fill the funding shortage. This could mean that babies and young children could die of treatable illness, which, in my opinion, is the worst kind of tragedy.
Report from the Strengthening Capacity of Research and Information on Asbestos-Related Occupational Diseases Conference in Hanoi
Supporters familiar with APHEDA’s ideology and practice might be scratching their head as to why we are sponsoring a conference? True, APHEDA’s modus operandi is direct capacity building, community development and tangible results. But this is no conference for a conferences’ sake, rather, it marks the formal launch of the National Resource Centre for Asbestos Related Disease. This centre will be the first centre dedicated to researching asbestos disease in Vietnam and crucially is located within the trade union movement who in many countries, including Australia, have lead the charge to protect workers from asbestos related disease. Continue reading →