Ko Lao is a small Thai island set in the Andaman Sea with a sweeping view of the extreme southern tip of Myanmar: Kawthung and Victoria Point. The islanders are Mogen, so-called "sea-gypsies". The Mogen were historically sea-borne nomads, migrating seasonally up and down the Andaman coast in search of fish and pearls. In recent decades the Myanmar and Thai governments have put a stop to the historical Mogen movement between the two countries.
These people experience strong prejudice in both Myanmar and Thailand and neither country has granted them citizenship. Their language has only recently been written down and efforts made to preserve it.
Recently, the Ko Lao Mogen have received Thai identity papers, making their children eligible to attend Thai schools. But despite the large number of children, and unusual for Thailand, the island had no school. European parents of children killed in the 2004 Andaman tsunami donated funds to Bangkok's Mercy Centre to build a school for the Mogen on Ko Lao.
In 2012 Build a School in Burma partnered with Mercy Centre Thailand to provide solar panels, inverters and connections so the new school will have fan ventilation, refrigeration, computer power and lights.