As we have come to learn Htoo Chit has created a wide wake in his path doing great things for many individuals and the Burmese community as a whole. Apparently we are not the only ones to recognize this as today a Burmese film crew arrived to begin filming a movie based on Htoo Chit’s life.
May 11, 2012
May 7, 2012 euronews.com
Thailand: Hope for Burmese children There are an estimated two million Burmese migrants in Thailand but only a quarter of them are officially registered. According to the International Organisation for Migration, 200,000 of them are children. They come to Thailand to escape political persecution or to find better paid work.
Since 2005 The Foundation for Education and Development has been running an education project for Burmese children in Thailand. It costs seven dollars a month to send a child to this school, and the fees also cover transport and lunch.
As well as Thai, the children learn English, maths, science and social sciences. In 2006, the Thai government allowed around 100 young Burmese children to enrol at state schools but it was not easy.
Who knows how long these children will stay in Thailand? It could be weeks, months or even years. But with programmes like these, at least some of them will get an education.
Phang Nga Province, May 9, 2012: Over 350 people gathered today in Khao Lak to celebrate the opening of the United Learning Center- a center dedicated to educating the children of Burmese migrant workers here in Thailand. The school will serve the needs of over 300 children ages 4-17 with the goal of integrating them into the Thai community.
Two of the new students reported that the new facilities swept them off their feet.
May 5, 2012 (or 5/5/55, 2555, in the Buddhist calendar - - very auspicious)
Just returning from the blessing of the house of the Learning Center’s Director; Burmese monks offered prayers for peace and harmony and the community celebrated with a traditional Burmese breakfast……yum.
On the way home, we passed a fruit vendor that had stopped to offer an elephant two pineapples.
Exchanging wide smiles with the driver as we passed, we shared the spirit and feel lucky to be enjoying the love of the people around us.
Of course we stopped to take some elephant close-ups and even posed with the amazing creature.
Just another morning on our lovely adventure.
April 25, 2012
Who thought building a playground would be so much fun or would take such an interesting path? We are in week two of our time with FED and every day we continue to appreciate the rich mix of people gathered together with the common purpose of improving the lives of Burmese migrant workers here in Thailand.
Today started with a visit to a rubber plantation; when we arrived the women were congregated in the meeting space with a facilitator from FED’s WEDA (Woman Empowerment and Development Association) program. We were greeted by the patient patriarch, Kin Maung Oo, of the small community (about four families) who answered our many questions and gave us a comprehensive tour of the facilities and plantation. During our tour he was very positive about his relationship with the plantation owner and explained the 40 / 60 split of proceeds from the sale of rubber harvested (40% to the community / 60% to the owner). We also learned about the healthcare services available to him with Thai work permits (he showed us his) and the challenges of a plantation that due to aging trees, produces less rubber.
As we were loading up to leave, Kin Maung Oo stepped into the entrance of a small building and began speaking loudly. We heard younger voices responding and after some animated “back and forth” between the parties, three adolescent boys emerged and jumped into the back of the truck with us. Ah, how I remember my father stirring my brother and me to get out of the house!
We arrived at the new learning center and met with the designer of the playground, Tah Wah. The company he works for, Child’s Dream, had arranged to work directly with the local Burmese community to construct the project. Our three new pals from the rubber plantation tumbled out of the truck and took instruction, picking up grinders and taking the rough edges off the newly installed playground equipment. We all pitched in and just as we were in full swing the sky opened with a huge downpour. All the adults (five) picked up the tools and ran into the building; all the children (twelve) placed their tools under shelter then ran into the center of the school yard to play a spirited game of soccer in the heavy rain. What a sight! But at the end we were able to construct some amazing things and made sure to test every one out…
Who thought building a playground would be so much fun or would take such an interesting path?
Tim Walch and Edmund Sulzman
December 1st, 2011 was a GREAT day! It began with an one hour drive to the town of Pang Nga at 6am, before the sun was awake. We arrived at a field with a stage and tents. Each tent was reserve for one of the eight NGO’s participating in/sponsoring the day’s events. After setting up the FED booth with hand made HIV/AIDS posters and FED banners, we were driven to a nearby Thai school to “walk.”
It was 8am, the time at which all students sing the national anthem. Trucks with students from different schools (both Thai and Burmese) unloaded and the students lined up. I finally realize that this “walk” was like a parade/fundraising walk that happen in the states…such as the Revlon Run/Walk or AIDS Walk, but in full force! Students held banners and hand made posters, dressed up as condoms, and wore hats adorned with blown up condoms. The long line was lead by a marching band and the sections were conjoined by Thai dancers. The students cheered as they passed out pamphlets and condoms to onlookers.
As we arrived on the field, the festivities began. Youth groups from around the area performed various dances and the NGO’s hosted informational booths, handing out condoms and providing activities for the students. The activities included answering questions, in relation to HIV/AIDS, for prizes and painting shirts to spread awareness.
It is amazing to see mobilization in action, especially when the mobilizers are children bringing together a community for a “HEALTHY THAILAND.” This isn’t anything I expected when I first signed on to work with FED…what a great surprise!
FOR PICTURES, CLICK HERE
-Christina LeRubio, Volunteer (Los Angeles, California- USA)
Last Friday and Saturday, September 30th and October 1st, 30 students from Tonkamin and Parkweep learning centers braved torrential rains to join FED staff and volunteers at the Youth Outreach Center. The students began with some exercises and games to get to know each other, and then they made drawings of their houses, favorite food, favorite animal, and families. All of the activities the students participated in on Friday helped them brainstorm what they would draw in their sketchbooks on Saturday.
The above photo is of students drawing their “brainstorm diagrams” to prepare for making their sketchbooks on Saturday.
In the picture below students draw in their sketchbooks and decorate them with stickers and glitter.
The sketchbooks are part of a project undertaken by a group of schools in the UK. The students in these schools are exchanging sketchbooks of their own making for sketchbooks made by students in Southeast Asia. Many schools are exchanging sketchbooks with students in India and the sketchbooks created by FED learning center students will be the only sketchbooks representing Burmese students. The sketchbooks will then be displayed in the UK in an exhibit aimed to raise awareness about the differences between the lives of children living in the UK and those living in Southeast Asia. The exhibit aims to draw attention to the lives of students like those at FED’s learning centers, promoting an interest in the issues that face Burmese migrants among individuals living in the UK.
The heavy rains that started Wednesday night and continued through Thursday led to the flooding of a number of local communities from the Khao Lak to the Takuapa areas. FED has visited a number of these communities, supplying them with food and water and other necessary support.
The community at the Thokamin rubber plantation was affected most severely, as flooding washed away a bridge, isolating the community from access to town even after the heavy rains had subsided.
FED Executive Director, Htoo Chit, continues to visit communities affected by the flooding, ensuring that they receive support during the floods, whether that entails a need to relocate or access to food or health care.
Today, Miléna and I (two volunteers) engaged in a Women’s Exchange at Thokamin community, aided by our translator Nini Win. Mi Sein, a WEDA employee, led the workshop. She began the morning with a role playing game to bring everyone together, and then taught the women about proper hygiene and healthcare. She covered topics from puberty to birth control to pregnancy. The women’s exchange provides women with a safe environment of women in which they can ask questions about topics in a private space where men are not involved.
Inga was there, taking note of the exchange for her doctoral dissertation, and there was much chatting and smiling among the women. Talking about these topics in an open and dynamic way is important when it comes to spreading knowledge and making sure the women retain the information they have learned. Mi Sein is a very engaging speaker and she was visibly able to reach the women in a significant and enduring way. Of course, there are certainly ingrained cultural habits that may interfere with the proper use of birth control, but gaining an understanding of their personal healthcare options is a very important first step for the Burmese migrant women living in communities like the Thokamin rubber plantation.