In May, Director and Founder Nunnaree Luangmoi was offered to rent a space near the current office in Chiang Khong. That sparked the idea of opening a place where the women in our community can make and sell their handicrafts while engaging with the wider community. The idea was formed, and the Foundation is now preparing to open the Visitors’ Center. What follows is the reasoning behind starting this initiative.
The Visitors’ Center will have a small café that offers visitors coffee and other refreshments and the income from these will help fund Center for Girls’ activities.
To be clear, the money from the café will be given as donations as the Center for Girls Foundation is a community organization. The expectation is that these small-scale donations will escalate into more donations to the organization as visitors learn more during their visit. Walls adorned with examples of Center for Girls’ activities in empowering women and children and murals depicting the villages outside the city where the ethnic tribes have their homes. All to bring the issues of gender equality and ethnic discrimination closer to the visitor during their visit and allow them to support our work in exchange for a cup of coffee.
Although small in scale, these donations will become crucial for the Center for Girls Foundation. The space and utilities are, of course, not free of charge so giving to the Visitors’ Center will help keep it open. Any profit from the café will be reinvested in the organization. The Foundation has three specific missions to fund via the café:
- Emergency savings. The organization wants to become even more financially stable by gathering a pot of money to use in emergencies where unforeseen expenses occur or expected income fails to appear. The reasons can be innumerable, but to ensure a sustainable organization savings for emergencies will become increasingly important. While the Foundation enjoys great collaborations with our current sponsors, the funding from these sources goes directly to activities, salaries, and overhead and does not future-proofing the organization.
- Emergency cases. Becoming a beacon for women and children in the area means that an increasing number of people seek us out for help that lies outside of our current activities. These can be women who seek out the Center for Girls Foundation after having left abusive relationships, who have been cheated in their jobs, or who experience custody issues. In these cases, the Foundation rushes to fundraise these cases and has been able to so far. However, as these are not part of the daily activities these cases risk taking important time away from our employees. A stable income from the Visitors’ Center would make the Foundation able to handle emergency cases effectively.
- New ventures. Center for Girls Foundation has been around for over 20 years and have enjoyed seeing the women and our community grow. To continue addressing the issues in our community and find new ways to empower women and children, the Foundation aims to incorporate more innovative projects. A spirit of try and fail is needed to find these new ways, but that is hard to drum up funding for. The Foundation can be leading the way in empowering our community when we can try out new ventures ourselves before seeking large-scale funding.
Income for Ethnic Women
The Foundation has seen great success over the years in building ways for the women of the ethnic hill tribes around Chiang Khong to earn an income despite facing discrimination from other local Thai people. One of our most prominent sponsors has educated local Hmong women in tailoring and sowing, and these women are soon ready to produce clothing and artifacts that allow them to start their own businesses. Soapmaking has been another engaging activity for the women in the tribes and has allowed them to earn their own money.
Financial independence is crucial for empowering women to keep themselves and their families away from poverty and build flourishing communities. Center for Girls Foundation wants to accelerate this progress among the women in our community by supplying a space with foot traffic where they can sell their products for free.
Furthermore, the café will be run by two women from our community who have long faced discrimination due to their ethnic background. Giving these women income and training through the Visitors’ Center will be an inspiration for other women in our community and may even ease the tensions between Thai and other ethnic groups that have long plagued the North of Thailand.
Engaging the Community
Apart from selling delicious coffee, the café will be a space for women from the local hill tribes to overcome ethnic discrimination and engage with the wider community.
The Foundation works with ethnic tribes local to the Chiang Khong district (mainly Hmong, Khamu, and Tai Lue) who represent rich cultures but are often discriminated against. The café will offer opportunities for development, representation, and common understanding as local Thai is able to learn more at the Visitors’ Center.
Tribal cultural clothing and artifacts will be a natural part of the Visitors’ Center and allow the women to relish in and take pride in their culture.
There are three main groups of visitors that the Visitors’ Center plans to engage:
- Local coffee drinkers. Office workers and local citizens wanting a delicious and reasonably priced beverage may adopt the café at the Visitors’ Center as their daily pit stop.
- Thai national tourists. Tourists already visiting the Mekong River, sightseeing among the local temples, or crossing to Laos will be able to take a rest at the Visitors’ Center and learn more about their national history.
- International tourists. The Center for Girls Visitors’ Center should be a must-see for international visitors wishing to experience an authentic piece of Thai culture that is not often talked about and is difficult to reach. Coffee, new inspiration along with handicrafts that make perfect souvenirs is the ideal attraction for international tourists.
Want to know more?
Come along on the journey as we establish the Visitors’ Center from scratch by following our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok. The Foundation’s current volunteer Julie is also documenting the journey on her Instagram at @vidi_community.
Do you have any questions or want to collaborate with us on this initiative, please Contact Us.
If you want to support the Visitors’ Center will equipment and training, please consider donating right here.
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