Doi Tung sits in the Golden Triangle, an area once known as the center of opium production in the world. In a single generation, it has gone from poverty, and human and arms trafficking to a place where people are happy and productive. Through the vision of HRH Princess Srinagarindra, the Princess Mother, and the Doi Tung Development Project, the 29 villages and 11,000 people of Doi Tung are now drug-free, self-sufficient and an example for the rest of the world. The solution to many of today's problems could lie in the SALD approach, initiated by the Princess Mother who was a true visionary. SALD is an acronym for Sustainable Alternative Livelihood Development and under these principles the Doi Tung Development Project became self-sufficient in 2001, only 14 years after it began.
Where once the people gathered to trade opium, arms and humans, there is now a thriving market for tourists and locals alike, full of happy content families going about their daily lives free from the oppression of poverty.
We have a passion for human stories. As the editors of Rear Curtain magazine, we believe images hold the potential to share some of the most powerful stories that connect us no matter where in the world we live.
In 2012, we traveled to Northern Thailand and visited the Golden Triangle, an area once known as the center of opium production in the world. There we discovered how the real world problems of poverty and a lack of opportunity could be successfully tackled through a simple approach. By respecting the intelligence and goodness of those needing help, the Doi Tung Development Project has changed the lives of people living there, for the better.
This essay demonstrates how the principles of the Sustainable Alternative Livelihood Development (SALD)model brought change and development through cooperation between the projectand the people involved. This approach could be introduced to other communities that face similar social and environmental issues and be just as successful. All it takes is a commitment to people that need the help and a belief in them as well as time and the ability to trust the process.
~ Ray Ketcham and Sabrina Henry
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