The JILAF Thailand Office visited the provinces of Surat Thani, Chiang Mai, and Khon Kaen in May and June with the aim of coordinating efforts toward the full-fledged start in fiscal 2017 of the SGRA project (Supporting Grass-Roots Activities through the International Employers’ and Workers’ Network).
On Wednesday, May 17, together with the Southern Working Committee, the JILAF delegation visited a settlement of new network members (10 members of the Senoi tribe living in a forest conservation area in the province of Phatthalung, next to Surat Thani) to discuss activity plans from now on. The Senoi tribe poses numerous problems, including (1) difficulty in communicating its intentions, because it does not share a common language or concept of numbers; (2) difficulty of access due to its nomadism and self-sufficiency; and (3) their estrangement from public schooling, medicine, and other services because they do not possess identity cards. Like aboriginal tribes in other countries, though, the encroachment of civilization into their lives is unavoidable. As a first step in cooperation, therefore, it was agreed to work through the cultural and environmental preservation group (informal-sector workers), which endeavors to understand and protect the lifestyle and culture of the Senoi tribe, and later to consider establishing a mutual-aid group with the involvement of the Senoi tribe.
On Thursday, May 18 a seminar on stable credit union management was attended by 46 persons, including the directors of SGRA credit unions consisting of existing network members. Lectures were given by the head of the Nathapipat Southern Credit Union Association and members of the Southern Working Committee on such topics as democratic organizational management and transparent accounting systems.
On June 7–8 (Wednesday and Thursday) vocational training was implemented for existing network members in Chiang Mai. In collaboration with the district government office, a seminar on the cultivation and sale of organic herbs was held for 30 members of the disabled persons’ group (disabled persons and their family members).
On Saturday, June 10 a follow-up of existing network members was held in Khon Kaen to strengthen SGRA credit union management. The seminar for 57 farmers cultivating organic riceberry (red rice) laid the groundwork for the new establishment of a mutual-aid insurance menu (fire insurance: Japan’s Zenrosai Kyokai [National Association for Workers’ Welfare and Cooperative Insurance] had already explained the system and operation) toward the strengthening of SGRA credit unions. The participants recognized the necessity and importance of mutual-aid fire insurance and agreed to make a start as soon as preparations have been completed.
Meeting of the Southern Working Committee; visit to new network members (minority ethnic tribe); follow-up of existing network members; etc.
Vocational training for existing network members; etc.
Follow-up of existing network members to strengthen SGRA credit union management