How do you change the customs and habits of an entire group of people who have been set in their ways for generations upon generations? How can you even communicate with an entirely different culture coherently? How can you propose to help when all they think you're doing is hindering? Well it isn't a cake walk.
Firstly, you must identify the specific problems you wish to tackle. With the tribes in Northern Thailand the problems that Fields to Forks wants to tackle is the malnutrition and food security issue.
Secondly, you must identify why these problems exist at all. What in their culture, SES, environment, traditions, etc. cause these problems. For the past year, this is the research that been done. They have conducted interviews with several villages in Northern Thailand, they have collected environmental samples and conducted environmental studies to understand the local agriculture and what is available to the villagers, and they have observed the overall lifestyles of the villagers.
Thirdly, you must design a way to deal with the problem and come up with a solution. The project already has several different dimensions and several researchers working on it. Dimensions such as bringing different seeds to create a more nutritionally beneficial diet, teaching the local people how they can use their land in different ways to use it to its full potential, and even bringing different sources of protein to the villages. Personally what I am working on, with several other students, is creating educational and promotional sources of media (videos, brochures, etc.) for the villagers. Next weekend we will be going to one of the villages to take videos and pictures and include the villagers in them so that when we will give them our message and our advice it will be more relatable.
Finally, after all the research is done and all the preparation is complete, it is time to begin the actual process of helping and making sure that it’s sustainable. The entire idea of projects such as this is to help the people to help themselves so that they can become self-sufficient. Unfortunately, I will not be present during the end of this project but I am so happy to even be part of it at all and I'm so grateful to the experience I will gain to help me start my own research project for my patients in El Hongo, Mexico.