THAILAND – MEF village solar project
The Mahouts Elephant Foundation (MEF) is one of many elephant-based projects in Thailand. But what we like about the MEF is the fact that there are two complimentary aspects to their work. Whilst they are dedicated to the rehabilitation of once-captive working elephants and their return to free-roaming in the forests, they are also dedicated to empowering the local communities that co-exist with the elephants, through locally led community-based tourism projects, creating sustainable long-term employment possibilities for community members in their own villages. The welfare and future of the mahouts who work with the elephants is as important to them as are the elephants themselves.
The project with which we will assist is based in a small rural community of some 24 households, located in Northern Thailand, near Mae Sot. The community lies near the top of a mountain, with views stretching across into Myanmar and with a beautiful golden temple at the top of the hill. But amidst this beauty the village is in great need of support as they are facing poverty on a daily basis. The MEF is building a new multi-functional community centre for the village, which will be used for community meetings, adult education, hospitality training, and a small museum will also be set up.
The village relies completely on solar power, but the current solar panels are old and inefficient. Our funding will ensure the purchase of new solar panels, for the Community Centre. This will allow classes and other communal activities to be held during the evenings whilst the children will be able to use the centre to do their homework after dark. Our funding will complete the Community centre and change lives in the village.
Nationwide curfews imposed due to Covid-19 lead to delays in both workers and equipment reaching the village and starting construction of the community centre. Once this is completed then the solar panels we have funded will be ordered.
Lockdown has held up our Project, with travel restricted, so work is somewhat behind, but we have nevertheless been busy.
Our community centre is now 90% complete. and the two large solar cell systems, funded by our Foundation, have been purchased. The solar cells have multiple charging points as well as providing much needed light for wildlife guide training in October. The final building work on the community centre is due to start this month and we can hopefully install the solar panels at some point this month.