Mu Koh Surin

Forty-eight miles from the North Andaman coast, the Surin Islands rise like a gem from the sea. For centuries, the Moken (Sea Gypsies), a nomadic tribe of sea-faring fishermen, have lived on and around these islands. They have no written language, their small bamboo homes are built directly on the sand, and they live very simply, relocating when the resources are no longer available—traveling where the fish are swimming. Because of their oral history, the Moken villagers have achieved a degree of fame within Thailand. They had an understanding of tsunamis passed down over the years from a previous occurrence in 1907 when one villager saw the water recede and called everyone up onto the highland just before the water returned in the form of a giant wave. When the tsunami occurred in December, all of the villagers (except for one who was at sea) and several tourists were saved. In only 10 days, they rebuilt 56 new huts in perfect rows all on one small stretch of beach.

NATR has been supporting this community through the provision of tools, fresh food, mosquito nets, clothing and two repaired boats. Members of the community are also involved in making model Surin boats and weaving baskets, which NATR purchase for resale. In addition, when members of the community come to the mainland for medical care, NATR has supported their needs.

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