Raks Thai is a Thai NGO, affiliated to Care International (Raks means “care” in Thai.) Mr Lertpayub admitted that the work in a big structure has advantages, but also disadvantages.
For example, Raks Thai had to adapt its logo to the one of Care International. Further, the work of Raks Thai is supervised by Care which means additional administrative work for Raks Thai. Mr Lertpayub has further compared the structure of Care International with the UN: The one contributing to most money, is the one making the most important decisions. In South East Asia these are mainly Care US and Care Australia.
But the work in a big organisation has advantages as well. Means and knowledge can be put together and used commonly, the NGO is more renown and cross-border projects can be financed.
We have further asked Mr Lertpayub if the military putsch has brought any consequences for the work of NGOs. He said there are no major differences for Raks Thai. He could, however, imagine that NGOs which work on political topics, or topics relevant to policy, could feel more pressure.
Raks Thai works on several projects in different area like victims of violence, addicts, HIV, education, agriculture, forestation and others.
Raks Thai also works with Burmese immigrants who want to settle in Thailand.
This is a subject we were very interested in, because Mr Lertpayub did not speak of “refugees,” but “work migrants.” There are currently thousands of Burmese refugees in Thai refugee camps which only wait for their repatriation. Many leave the camps in order to work in Thailand, for most of the time under illegal conditions. Without a work permit, most are exploited.
We have not insisted on the subject, because the topic is not one of Raks Thai’s main subjects. Raks Thai already makes an amazing work in different areas. Further, there a more specialised NGOs like the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders.
At the end we have asked Mr Lertpayub how one can officially register their NGO in Thailand. This would be an interesting step for us, because we would benefit from the one-year visa “O” instead of extending our tourist visa every three months.
A registration is possible at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Labour. But according to Mr Lerpayub the proceedings are complicated, protracted and actually not doable without the help of an English speaking Thai person.
Mr Lertpayub told us than many, especially small NGOs, work with tourist visa and cross the border every three months in order to extent the visa. We have decided to do the same for the moment.
The meeting with Mr Lertpayub was interesting for us in two regards: We now know that it is possible to work with Burmese refugees without risking an expulsion of the country and we have learned that we can work for Omakua using our tourist visa.
Mr Lerpayub has further connected us with the Raks Thai team in the North (Chiang Mai). We will be able to visit a project of a big NGO directly on the field.