Hsa Thoo Lei Learning Centre provides a free education for 700 children, and is home to about 200: these are children whose parents are dead or who are still inside Burma. Whether the children live in Hsa Thoo Lei or with family or friends outside, they are all in desperate poverty. The school tries to provide two free lunches a week when funds permit (not at all this calendar year) because for some children that is the only proper meal they ever eat. The children learn all the usual subjects but additionally learn languages - Burmese and Karen, the tongues of their homeland, Thai which is the language of their country of residence, and English, which many hope will one day be a passport to a better life elsewhere.
The Burmese migrant children in these schools are vulnerable to malnutrition, especially since the schools’ income is very much below levels required to fund regular school lunches. The Thai children’s Trust with help from partner organisations aims to ameliorate this situation by promoting the introduction of mushroom houses.
A mushroom house grows mushrooms in pre-prepared spore bags, placed on racks in a hot and humid hut. Regularly tended, the spore bags will produce mushrooms over a 3 month cycle. For most of the cycle there will be mushrooms available to supplement the diet of the children in the school. At the peak of the cycle there will be mushrooms for the school to sell.