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International

Program Background: Southeast Asia

For nearly three decades the McKnight Foundation has sought to improve the lives of the most vulnerable peoples of Southeast Asia.

Since 1983, The McKnight Foundation has supported the people and communities of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Originating with an initial grant of $10,000 to the American Refugee Committee to provide basic health care to refugees living in camps on the Thai-Cambodia border, the program has continuously sought to improve the lives of refugees, landmine victims, ethnic minorities, exploited women and girls, and other marginalized communities.
 
In 2005, after comprehensive program assessments, research on regional priorities and needs, and the Board’s direct interaction with local organizations and populations, the Foundation redefined the Southeast Asia program to focus specifically on sustaining and improving the livelihoods of the most vulnerable people in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
 
In 2009, the program revised its guidelines to focus directly on efforts to increase self-determination and improve livelihoods for indigenous and ethnic minorities; to increase community resource rights; and to support balanced approaches to the management of natural resources, both to benefit communities and to protect biodiversity.

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