DARE Network is a grassroots national NGO (non-governmental organization). DARE Network provides culturally appropriate non-medical treatment and prevention education to reduce substance abuse and associated social problems within the communities of the displaced ethnic people from Burma, along the Thai/Burmese border.
DARE Network envisions the strength of ethnic people from Burma to use the power of recovery from addiction as a non-violent means to freedom.
Mother and children hiding in the jungle (Photo courtesy of Free Burma Rangers)
DARE Network is the first and remains the only organization that comprehensively addresses substance abuse within the refugee and migrant populations along the Thai/Burmese border.
The military government of Burma is one of the largest producers of opium, heroin and methamphetamines in the world. The production of these substances not only fuels the economy but also enables the government to work systematically to eliminate the ethnic peoples of Burma.
The military government of Burma also aggressively promotes an agenda that inflicts murder, violence, forced labor, and rape on its people while limiting opportunities for education and employment. To cope with the daily traumas, poverty and extreme losses, many people have become substance dependent.
In 2000, after witnessing the atrocities committed against the ethnic people of Burma and the subsequent social problems associated with alcohol and drug dependence along the Thai/Burmese Border, a Canadian Addiction Recovery specialist and the leaders of local ethnic groups felt compelled to make a change in the situation.
Together they developed a plan to address the growing problem of substance abuse within the displaced ethnic communities of Burma.
In October 2001, DARE Network known at the time as Community Addition Recovery and Education (CARE) trained addiction workers from Karen, Karenni and IDP communities.
A family flees the SPDC (Photo Courtesy of Free Burma Rangers)
This first training, in Mae Sariang, taught skills based on traditional eastern and modern western approaches to addiction to the new community addiction workers to treat for substance abuse while also leading prevention and education sessions in the refugee camps. Concurrently, DARE Network built centres in Mae La Oon, Mae Ra Moe, Mae La, Umpiem, Noe Poe camps, and in one IDP camp. With the completion of the training and construction of the DARE Network Centres, community addiction workers began recovery treatment and prevention and education sessions.
In 2002, DARE Network moved it's offices to Mae Hong Song, where trainings were conducted for another year in the Karenni camps and to migrant Wa, Palaung, Lahu, Shan and PaO community addiction workers. In 2003 the main DARE Network office moved again to Mae Sot. During this year, DARE Network conducted its training inside the Mae La the largest refugee camp in Thailand. DARE Network also expanded its camp activities by building DARE Centres in Karenni Camps 1 and 2. In January, 2005, the organization officially changed its name from CARE Project to Drug and Alcohol Recovery and Education (DARE) Network and set up it's current office in Mae Sariang.
With a strong treatment program in place, DARE Network developed the DARE for All program to promote education and prevention. In 2007 the DARE Network joined Ruam mit Foundation for Youth and was formally recognized as a foundation, Ruam mit DARE, by the Royal Thai Government Ministry of the Interior. With DARE Network’s new status, the organization continued to expand its capacity by introducing family based programming in addition to youth specific programming.
The DARE Network continued treatment and prevention and education activities in 2008, while expanding youth programming to include a traditional music program, ultimate frisbee for teenagers and solvent abuse specific programming.