The islands that make up the Mergui Archipelago in Burma are home to the Moken people. The Moken, often referred to as sea gypsies are listed in the bottom 5 poorest ethnic communities in the world. Depending nearly entirely on the sea,the fishermen face more and more pressures every year to their very existence. Often bullied by the mainland fishing fleets for supplies and easily swayed by the Thais to adopt unsustainable and destructive fishing methods such as blast fishing and shark finning, the simple Moken way of life may become a thing of the past, leaving behind an eco-system laid to waste through exploitation and pollution.
SEE&SEA was founded by Thailand Dive & Sail in 2009 to help the Moken, rooted with a deep devotion to the Mergui Archipelago and determination to bring about environmental changes to the region. The Moken, whilst living on the edge of an extremely fragile eco-system, receive only limited help from the Burmese government. Although rudimentary health care is available, the local nurses receive only limited supplies of medicine to treat diseases such as malaria which is on the increase in the area. Waterborne diseases thrive in fresh water that accumulates in the garbage washed ashore on the beaches where there are numerous Moken villages. With any project that hopes to affect a change in a region such as Mergui the first step is to earn the trust of local indigenous populations. The goal of SEE&SEA is to improve the quality of life for the Moken so we can work together for a sustainable future through aid programs and educational projects.
During the 2010-2011 diving season Thailand Dive & Sail collected unwanted glasses to distribute amongst the Moken people. The appeal was a great success, over 50 villagers with impaired vision received glasses to help improve their quality of life. In March 2011, Thailand Dive & Sail with Dr Andrea Marshall, distributed the glasses with literature aimed at educating the fishermen to use more sustainable fishing methods, to protect precious coral reefs, to stop fishing for sharks and to say no to Thais wishing to employ them as blast fishermen. The campaign also gave us valuable insight into the lives of the Moken which enabled us to set our goals for the future. For more details of our 2010-2011 campaign please click here.
For the up-coming 2011-2012 dive season Thailand Dive & Sail, whilst continuing to collect glasses will expand SEE&SEA to tackle a more serious problem facing the Moken. Malaria diagnosis and treatment is sorely needed and we hope to provide enough medicine to treat those with the disease. As part of our continued commitment to the future of the region it is important to prevent the spread of malaria. Thailand Dive & Sail want to provide mosquito nets for all households that make up the Moken villages and to run beach clean-up programs to clear the trash that becomes the breading grounds for mosquitos.
If you wish to help Thailand Dive & Sail help the Moken we need reading glasses, funds for malaria medicine and mosquitos nets and sponsorship for beach clean-up programs. Please contact us for more details of how you can help.