Mae-la preschools under threat of closure.

Mae-la camp refugee camp is located in Thailand, on the Burmese border, about 55km north of Mae Sot. It is home to about 60,000 mainly Karen refugees from Burma.

In Mae-la camp there are thousands of preschool children, and in 2020 there were 17 preschools in the camp. These preschools provide a solid preschool education and a nutritional supplements program that is essential for these children to thrive.

In another life, I used to be a Preschool teacher. As we are all aware, Preschool provides the building blocks for further education. Numerous studies show that kids who do not have a preschool education tend to struggle in their primary and secondary years. Any successful educational system must have a solid early childhood foundation if children are going to get the full benefit from their school years.

The children at one of the preschools sing their welcome song.

In years past at Mae-la camp, many NGOs including Australian Mercy have supported the camp preschools some of these NGOs have been quite large. However, on December 31, 2020, all official funding from the larger NGOs has ceased and unless replacement funding can be found many of these Preschools will close. These closures will not only take away the only early childhood educational foundations available to thousands of children in Mae-la camp but will also destroy the front line where basic health and learning difficulties are picked up and a safe place for women who are experiencing stress in their relationships is taken away.

Australian Mercy and a couple of other smaller NGOs are trying to hold the line but at the present time our resources are not anywhere big enough to fund all 17 preschools. (On average, each preschool has between 50 and 70 children.)

At the present time, Australian Mercy funds one preschool and a teacher training program that is shared by all the other preschools. We also fund a nutritional supplements program that provides extra food to families and children who are at risk of malnutrition. This program is run through the Preschools in the camp.

In order to try and save just four Preschools we will need to see our Preschool budget increase by another $20,000 a year. ($1,670 per month.) We need to see 10 people or groups sign on to donate $170 a month or raise $20,000 extra every year. Can you help us?

If we can raise $20,000 extra, then we can see the preschool we are helping now plus three others operational. For every $7,000 above $20,000 that we raise we can one more preschool saved.  Donations to this appeal are tax deductible.

The Preschool costs covered by this appeal include,

  •  wages for teachers and other ancillary staff, (usually 5 per preschool).
  • Program costs, this includes materials for the run the program, electricity for the building etc.
  • Building maintenance costs.
  • Lunches and fruit for morning tea.

Your donation will help to save a Preschool and help give thousands of refugee children the foundations of a good education. Please give generously.


Donations can be made through our secure site, (select International Projects and then select Mae-la Camp Refugees)

If you are giving by electronic transfer. Send the funds to our ARMS Fundraising and Appeals Account, BSB 033 039 Account 246746. Please tag your donation “Karen PS” and email [email protected] to let them know your details and the amount you transferred so that we can send you a receipt.

Cheques can be sent to Australian Mercy, PO Box 132, Port Kembla, NSW 2505.

Thank you for your generous support.