Borderline is a café, fair-trade handicraft shop and art gallery based in Mae Sot, Thailand, supporting Burmese migrants and refugees on the Thai-Burma border.
Borderline Women’s Collective, Gallery and Tea Garden, located in Mae Sot, Thailand began with three women’s organisations seeking to establish a shared marketing space for women from Burma and living along the Thai-Burma border to sell their hand made items. The women’s groups also hoped that by having a collectively managed market they would build their capacity for running income generation projects with the communities with which they work. In May 2004, the Borderline Women’s Collective opened.
Located just across the border with Burma, Mae Sot has for decades felt the result of the military dictatorship that ruled Burma since 1962. As a result of repression and civil war, hundreds of thousands came to Thailand for safety and work, in addition people came to take advantage of better education and healthcare.
In 2003, the plan was born to create a special place where Women groups could sell their products, something that was very difficult to do on their own. Soon a teashop was added to the plan and when a place was found, there was enough room for an art gallery.
Borderline started by sharing funds and a small grant from the Canada fund which enabled to buy a computer and several items for the teashop. During the first years workshops were funded by small grants from diverse donors. Since around 2010, all segments of the collective have been run on their own and been able to support outside projects.
- To create an exciting community space for exhibiting and selling art and handicrafts of those living and working along the Thai-Burma Border.
- To enable the development of artists’ skills and the capacity of women’s organizations in creating and marketing their work.
- To explore concepts of art and the role of the artist in community.
Who we support…
The activities of Borderline support a variety of groups in the Border area. Our member groups are able to sell their products and find other market places. Our artists members have the opportunity to sell artwork which often match a months salary at factory or other work place. Borderline also offers full time jobs to 5 or 6 young people.
What we offer…
Currently Borderline has 6 separate components. Besides the Handicraft Shop, Tea Garden and Gallery, Borderline offers Cooking Classes, finds new markets through mail order and create products that fit the standard of Borderline and the need of the community. Bread, Peanut Butter and other food items can be bought, all made or created at Borderline or by sister organisations in Mae Sot.
Some of our special events…
Through the years Borderline has organised many events. Each year on or around March 8, we have a special evening or day to celebrate International Women’s Day. We also celebrate each year that Borderline exists, usually around June or July.
In collaboration with CBO’s and NGO’s we have organised fundraisers for Nargis, the Tsunami in Thailand and later in Japan, for fires in several refugee camps, for the Mae Tao Clinic and some smaller organisations.
For 15 years we have been a partner with My Story Photo Project and helped organise the exhibition after each year’s workshops.
On our 15th anniversary we organised a special small street market where 13 organisations could present themselves and sell their products. In March of 2020 we did a similar event on IWD. This collaboration is likely to have a follow up.