Library Activities in Refugee Camps on the Thai-Burma Border

June 1, 2007

The movement of Burmese nationals into Thailand began in the 1970s. Over 120,000 live in 5 camps along the border of the two countries still described as “temporary shelters” by the authorities. Others live as migrants in the community subject to sudden deportations and harassment by police and local people.

Library activities for Burmese refugees in Thailand were set up in 200o and by 2007 there were 25 libraries in 7 refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border. They estimate that nearly 2 million children and adults were benefiting from these libraries. A library committee made up of members of the refugee community ran each library.

The activities of the libraries strengthened the educational opportunities in the camps through the provision of books in the local language and a space for other activities.

The sessions offered for children at the libraries included story telling, games, dancing and toy making.

REI is provided 10,000 USD to purchase reference books and fund activities for elderly people living in the camps.

The REI team visited a library run by SVA in Mae La Oon camp in February 2007. We enjoyed playing games with the children and listening to stories.