Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Karen Hilltribes Trust

The hilltribe artisans are a success in the social entrepreneurship business model – they have taken a skill that’s been with them for centuries and have successfully marketed it in today’s modern market place, all the while deciding for themselves how much change they’d like to embrace.

In the Mae Hong Son region, in a part that’s slightly north-west of where the hilltribe artisans are, live large clusters of Karen people. The story for these Karen people is a direct contrast to the silversmiths. For one, the unforgiving environmental climate has not allowed them to be sustainable through subsistence agriculture, let alone commercial agriculture in order to generate funds for their daily living like sending their children‘s schooling. Separately, their lack of commercial skills as well as the poor infrastructure puts them in a position where generating their own wealth is a near impossibility.

We visited these villages in January 2009 and witnessed how a Karen man was in charge of administrating aid under the auspices of the Karen Hilltribes Trust, a transparently and efficiently run charity. Salahae and team work to sustain the villages through providing access to education and the water irrigation systems, as well as basic amenities like blankets, latrines and rice.

Choo Yilin Artisan Jewellery and Cate are working with the Karen Hilltribes Trust to build a better future for these Karen people. It is our hope that with education and the infrastructure put in place, they would eventually be self-sufficient and development aid becomes no longer necessary. The label is selling its jewellery cleaning kit where 100% of its proceeds will be donated to the charity. They are available here.

If you like to donate directly to the charity itself or would simply like to learn more about the charity, please visit

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