To address difficulties in daily life of displaced persons who fled Myanmar military’s oppressions to Mae Sot, Thailand, each meal is sold at 15 baht by a volunteer group.
This interview with Sayar Kyaung (Myingyan), a member of this volunteer group, is about the onset of this program, the targeted community and their challenges.
TLT: Could you talk about the formation of this group to sell each meal at 15 baht?
Sayar Kyaung: When we gathered information on ground after the Water Festival (mid-April), we realized that distribution of food rations for our displaced persons from some organizations have declined. So, we decided to provide any assistance for them as much as we can. We earlier considered to sell each meal at 10 baht. But this program should not be stopped in one or two months. Our plan is to sell meals at 15 baht two days a week, with focus on our peers, friends from political community and CDMers.
This program is to highlight that they are not neglected to some degree. And that we raised a fund from our wages. We do not take delivery charge even for a set of meal. We also donate the meals to IDPs and our peers who are in immediate need.
TLT: How is your group’s financial structure?
Sayar Kyaung: As we sell from 300 to 500 set of meal each day, we have certain loss from our fund every week. Some peers pay for ten sets of meal, but they take only one to donate the remaining nines to others. We do not ask individuals for their contribution in this program. But some well-wishers donate cash in their own volition. We have a finance team and a finance officer.
TLT: Could you explain how the meal is sold?
Sayar Kyaung: We want to sell the meal every day in the whole month. But we are living in other country, and we have only few volunteers. So, we can do just two days a week—on Monday and Thursday.
We prepare meal one day ahead. So, our volunteers have to work four days a week. We have some limited resources of volunteer and budget.
TLT: Who are your targeted customers?
Sayar Kyaung: We prioritize CDMers, political activists and our peers who fled from Myanmar after military coup.
TLT: Your group is helping IDPs. So, how are you helping them?
Sayar Kyaung: If well-wishing want to donate meals for IDPs, we can cook for them by 4 pm on Monday and Thursday, and we deliver the foods for them. We will expand our program for donation of clothes to IDPs through our group. The objective of our group is to help our peer displaced persons in Mae Sot without any attachment.
TLT: What is your concluding remark?
Sayar Kyaung: As we feel the responsible organizations failed to provide assistance to displaced persons, we are selling each meal at 15 bath. We will do better programs. More responsible persons are also urged to provide humanitarian assistance to IDPs in Mae Sot without any attachment.