The ICT Project and Bannok TV projects have been combined - The two projects work closely in so many areas, it was decided to bring the teams together, literally, under one roof.
The Mirror Foundation has one of the largest Internet presences within the Thailand NGO community. The IT Development Programme uses the internet to maintain a substantial online community for volunteers, to design websites for other NGOs, to raise funds, and to spread information about the hilltribes to the rest of the world.
The Mirror Foundation believes that the internet is the most far-reaching, adaptable and useful tool for mass communication. The Internet is a voice for the underprivileged, a teacher for those willing to learn, a fundraising network for worthy projects, a market to sell local handicrafts to the world and forum for like-minded individuals who wish to exchange ideas.
Since the introduction of the internet to Thailand, the Mirror Foundation has been exploring new ways of using its networking power to address social needs. From the first year, the Foundation used the internet to seek book donations, and has now received in excess of 200,000 books. More recently, we have used the internet to campaign against corrupt local politicians and have compiled a database of census records as a part of our Thai Citizenship Project, which local officials can access to greatly speed up the process of acquiring Thai citizenship.
Now, the IT Development Programme is at the heart of everything we do and has a wide variety of roles: to educate about and promote hilltribes and our work with them; to raise resources through the establishment of an on-line community; to establish and maintain a volunteer teacher network that will attract new volunteers and allow old volunteers to continue to make contributions to the community; to give information technology start-up advice and help to other NGOs and organizations wishing to establish an internet presence; and to support Mirror Foundation enterprises in a similar way, for example, www.ebannok.com, our handicrafts project e-commerce site.
Of the many forces eroding hilltribe life, one often overlooked is the lack of positive media role models. While the hilltribe youth are bombarded with images of Thai "superstars" and idealized Westerners, the media coverage given the hilltribes is split between negative or pitiful news stories and tourism commercials for Northern Thailand. Seeing the need for positive media images of hilltribe people as well as an information forum capable of reaching the remote villages of Mae Yao, The Mirror Foundation created Bannok TV (www.bannoktv.com).
Supporting Bannok TV is an extensive Video Community Archive. The Archive is a multimedia collection documenting traditional ceremonies, songs, customs, costumes, farming processes, weaving methods and hunting techniques. Using the archive, the Group makes educational documentaries for hilltiribe people and lowland Thais alike, allowing the viewers to take pride in their culture or discover a beautiful culture within their own borders.
The programming developed for Bannok TV is not solely produced by the staff. Under direction from members of The Mirror Foundation, local youth have planned, written, shot and edited their a number of short videos in their tribal languages. Among the topics covered by these videos are village drug abuse as seen through the eyes of the young people and the sense of separation felt by the young people when observing the traditional skills of their grandparents which have failed to be handed down over the generational gap.
Bannok TV has received funding from the World Bank and the Global Catalyst Foundation.