Cedar Learning Center
Make a Difference Today
Cedar Learning Centre (CLC) began in 2018 as a small Bangkok-based refugee initiative with the aim of providing education and humanitarian aid for refugee children and families most in need. This comes under the Tamil Refugees Community in Thailand (TRCT) which is a community based organization founded by Niroshan in responding to a need in his community and is currently the Director. Being a refugee himself, he had researched problems faced by the refugee community here in Bangkok and so was motivated to help his people and fellow refugees. He is currently also working as the Migration & Community Liaison Officer for a charity organization.
CLC works mainly with Sri Lankan and Pakistani refugees in Bangkok, helping over 20 families in areas of livelihoods, nutrition and education. We conduct supplementary Maths, Science and English classes for students aged from 7 to 18, to educate them as well as to provide them with some form of structure in their lives. CLC also conducts occasional cooking classes for the children of the community, as a way of making sure that the children have access to nutritious food as well as teaching them important life skills for their future.
CLC believes that every child, regardless of their situation, has the right to education. CLC acts as a safe space for them to learn and grow therefore, their psycho-social needs are addressed. The children in our community can access information and learn life skills needed to be leaders in their communities.
Thailand continues to host some 5,000 urban refugees and asylum seekers from many countries. The biggest nationality population is the Christian Pakistanis. Their access to support is very limited and majority struggle to find job and other means of support for survival. UNHCR stated that it will continue its full complement of protection and assistance activities for urban refugees and asylum seekers including, inter alia, refugee status determination and support for Thai language classes which allow refugee and asylum seeker children the opportunity to benefit from Thailand’s progressive “Education for All” policy while pursuing durable solutions. The stark reality is that the only durable solution available for urban refugees is resettlement and this solution is limited in quota and therefore, refugees remain in Thailand for a long period of time and with uncertainties, insecurity.
In 2016, assistance to urban refugees and asylum seekers dwindled and few NGOs providing support where overwhelmed by the high number of urban refugees and asylum seekers from Pakistan living in Metropolitan Bangkok and elsewhere. Many Sri Lankans and Pakistani refugees and asylum seekers have no access to psychological support and livelihoods and subjected to arrest and detention. Children’s schooling are interrupted or stopped and many of them cannot cope with the Thai school system as the medium of instruction is Thai and English language teaching quality is poor. Majority of the refugee children’s English ability are advanced compared to Thai pupils.
In 2017, a long time Bangkok-based Sri Lankan refugee, Niroshan or Jay, started a refugee support group and the membership was open to Sri Lankan refugees and asylum seekers. The group existed under his leadership and he serves as the project director responsible for organizing and coordinating activities. The structure is basic, being one of leadership from the grassroots. As the organization is of and for an undocumented population, it is not possible for it to receive official NGO status in Thailand. The harsh reality is that this population is open to detention and being treated as “illegal aliens”. The organization runs projects which serve to develop the refugee community and empower them.
Many children and youth lack access to psycho-social support services, child and youth friendly spaces for their social, emotional and behavioral growth and development. Refugee children and youth attending English language, Maths and Sciences classes at Cedar Learning Center expressed that they are safer and have sense of belonging every time they are at the Cedar Learning Center. There is friendship, social and emotional support being with the other refugee children and teenagers during the week.
Cedar Learning Center
The Cedar tree is known to be naturally resistant therefore very beneficial for building strong, resilient structures. The Cedar tree symbolizes resilience, stability, and strength in all weathers, as the roots grow down deep anchoring into the soil.
Cedar Learning Center is in the business of changing and shaping lives. The work we do at our Non-Profit is aimed at providing a holistic approach to solving some of our society’s biggest challenges. We make sure our partners are empowered by creating opportunities for individuals and communities.
Educate refugee youth in Bangkok through the power of education & food
Food to feed the hunger and education to end hunger
We help students who are at risk of:
Although humans produce enough food to provide every person on Earth 2750 calories per day, there are still communities where people struggle to feed themselves. Cedar Learning center aim is to fund basic needs, feed the hungry, and educate people so they have the means to lift themselves out of poverty. We currently work with at risk students and their families in a few small refugee and Asylum seekers communities in Bangkok.
A . Food Education
The kitchen is a hands on classroom and our kitchen education includes basic cooking, food safety, and nutrition. We don’t stop there, however, we recognize the kitchen demands a variety of skills and provide support for students to learn English, Math, and business basics.
provide an immediate application to English language instruction
support students with supplementary education
Nutritional deficiency plagues the mental, physical, and spiritual health of the communities we serve. In a community where people commonly scavenge the trash for produce that’s still edible, Cedar Learning Center provides rice and other staples to help people put food on the table.
encourage more nutritious eating and cooking methods
expand palate and introduce new cooking techniques
We believe these refugee children will be the leader of the community and successful in the future. development of each student is what drives us.
offer a safe space where children can learn to be leaders, gain self esteem, and have fun
provide skills for future employment opportunities
Increasing the number of children and youth accessing education and psycho-social support
Benefiting more people
Increase the number of children and youth accessing education and psycho-social support to 50 from the current 25 (25 male, 25 female (7-18 years old), expanded education and psycho-social support services.
Strengthening our capacities
It is planned to purchase 1 fabric printing machines, 2 sewing machines and 1 overlock machine which will allow us to efficiently produce recycled crafted hotel linen and towels.
- 8 families given opportunity to work and earn an income to support themselves and their families’ basic needs.
- Acquire a fabric printing machine which would greatly increase productivity so that we could produce 1,000 to 2,000 many unit products per month.
- Profits would total an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 baht per month, giving the community a 70% increase.
- Train and empower the community by hosting a workshop which will provide refugees with the necessary technical skills to produce and sell their own hand-crafted products. This in turn will empower the refugees to provide for themselves as well as provide an income for the learning centre, ultimately making it self-sustainable.
- Provide a technical skills training workshop for the refugees to learn how to use and produce the linen products. This could be done in one afternoon and will enable to refugees to work independently and at their own rate. They will gain skills as well as a sense of independence and accomplishment.
Committed to refugee education
Migration & community liaison officer
Niroshan is the coordinator of CLC working with Altamira worldwide in 2017 as migration & community liaison officer. His main role was to visit the Sri Lankan refugees and knowledge them the risk of illegal travel and to research thought and problems of being a refugee in Thailand.
Paul leads English Bible studies for working professionals in the Silom area and also online. He also partners with leaders like Mr. Niroshan who helps local communities in need.
Terence Shum, BSc, MSc, MSocSc, PhD
Terence is Research Assistant Professor at The Open University of Hong Kong. He is a development anthropologist whose ethnographic interests lie in Asia, particularly with migrants in Hong Kong, China and Thailand. Terence has been volunteering at different NGOs that provide refugee services in Hong Kong and Bangkok since 2008.
Rebecca Warren, BA, MA, PGCEi, CELTA/CELTYL, EdD (candidate)
Rebecca is an English teacher at an International School in Bangkok. In the UK, she worked as a youth development worker with refugees. Rebecca has volunteered with several refugee projects in Bangkok and is currently completing doctoral research into the educational experiences, needs and aspirations of young refugees living in extended exile in Bangkok, Thailand.
"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does"
How to support Cedar Learning Center?
Becoming our volunteers and/or donors
You are always welcome to offer your valuable physical and/or financial assistance to CLC. Please contact us at the following address/email/telephone no.
No.7, Soi Sutthiphong 1, Sutthisan Road, Ratchadaphisek, Din Daeng Area Bangkok Thailand 10400