“I stood at the border watching those migrant workers return, and I thought about the lack of facilities in Burma to take care of them.”

What I See

I stood at the border last week and watched tens of thousands of migrant workers return to Burma from Thailand after losing their jobs in the coronavirus shutdown. Shops, food stalls and markets in Thailand have closed. The Thai government has declared a state of emergency.

These migrant workers don’t have savings–they live day-to-day on their minimum wages. The people who can still work in factories are staying in Thailand. But those who can’t, have to go back.

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As I watched these workers return, I thought about the lack of facilities in Burma to take care of them. They were recommended to quarantine at home, but I’m not sure that will be effective, as social distancing is very difficult in crowded houses. Communities need materials to protect themselves.

What I’m Proud Of

Our school is now closed, so we transformed our vocational training classroom of sewing machines into a mask-making workshop run by volunteers. Two short weeks later, we are making four things: face masks, hand sanitizer, soap, and printed materials in local languages to raise awareness of the virus.

The market prices of these goods are rising—they are totally unaffordable to migrant workers. We are already in the process of producing our goal of 10,000 masks at BEAM.

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We will distribute these goods as packages—a mask and soap, for example—to migrant workers along the Thai-Burma border and to local healthcare workers. We are trying to launch this campaign within our network in Burma, too. This community and their health workers need support from all of us.

A Direct Grant

A direct grant allows us to respond in the moment and do what is most needed. Just a month ago, we had no idea we would be facing this crisis or making soap in our classrooms!

But thanks to a direct grant, we got the materials we needed to respond immediately to what was happening around us. Any donation or grant helps us respond in the moment to what is needed most.


* Move92 promotes direct grants because they let leaders on the ground do what they need to do. These needs change every day. And sometimes every hour. Direct grants allow decision-making to happen locally. Closest to the issue. Where it matters the most.