SIAST Group 2012
The opening of the kitchen, dining hall and laundry area for the Safe House
The following speech was given by 5 SIAST students at the opening of the kitchen, dining hall and laundry area for the safe house at Mae Pa Farm.
Hello, Everyone. As some of you may know we are from Canada and here with the organization that wants to better the lives of the Burmese. The five of us have done many different kinds of fundraising to be able to provide you with this building and we are so happy to do so.
We heard about the project, the girls, and the situation they were in and we all felt we had to do something to help. For us there was no ignoring it.
After meeting you we saw how wonderful each of you are. We feel even more proud to be a part of this project and your lives. We are happy that we are able to give you girls a safe place to live, a place where there are no worries, where you there will always be someone there for you.
We will always be thinking of you, you all have a very special place in our hearts. We want all of you to know that each one of you is special and you are an important individual. We would love to see you complete school and reach your full potential; we know that you can achieve great things. Know that there is always going to be someone there for you!
We see how much you care for each other and hope that you care for yourself the same way. Your future is bright. Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you will land among the stars.
Thank you and God bless.
The students delivering the speech were: Jesse Mehler, Janessa Malinowski, Kaitlyn Juba, Michelle, Kornuta and Ben Colclough.
Last day in Mae Sot
We woke up with the realization this was our last day in Mae Sot, we had met so many amazing people over the past 10 days. We had one last day to pack full of experiences and today was no different from the rest but yet different. Morning market after a Muslim breakfast, the market has everything from fresh fish and meat; clothes; electronics; spices, fruit and vegetables. We shared the narrow aisles with scooters and bikes who seem to have the right of way.
We then toured Mae Tao clinic, which is a hospital for migrant displaced Burmese. The clinic provided all around care, including eye care, dental care, maternity (3,000 babies were delivered in 2011) and amputation and prosthesis services. The amputees are primarily victims of the land mines in Burma. We were fortunate to meet Dr. Cynthia who started the clinic and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace prize for her work in Thailand for the Burmese people.
A local artist, Maung Maung Tin, acted as our guide through the clinic and then honoured us with a showing of his work. He has an ability to capture the spirit of the Burmese people in his paintings.
We ended our day with the girls that will live in the safe house the team has raised money for and worked on this trip. They entertained us with songs both English and Karen. We laughed, sang, danced and cried when we said goodbye. They are,very special children.
Write up by Michelle Kornuta (December 12, 2012)
December 10th, 2012.
Hi all. Here is the write up for December 8. We had a really good day today with our trip into the little Peace Council school in Burma. My only regret is that we did not bring more stuff. The little teacher, Wah Wah was so thrilled with everything. We should have had a huge load of baby clothes as there were babies galore. We gave almost every child one of those little bags with the knitted animal or doll inside or one of the toy cars or trucks from toys for god's kids group. It was unreal the kids and teachers were so thrilled. I don't think I've experienced that before. We did bring some food and women's clothing as well, but as I say we should have brought way more.
We also did the food distribution at the dump and I know it was pretty shocking for the travellers although I definitely have seen some improvements through the years. It's hard to even write that! Imagine finding improvement about any part of living on a garbage dump.
I had something sad happen to me at the school in Burma that I am kicking myself for. We had about 15 or so slightly older girls making bead bracelets and necklaces. It seems all the girls just love to do this. Anyway, I noticed one girl sitting off to one side so I went and invited her to join the other girls. She was very beautiful but dressed in really dreadfully dirty clothing. Anyway she joined the group and made a little necklace.
Sometime later as we were preparing to leave she came up to me very quietly and handed me the necklace. I tried to say thank you but at the same time I wanted her to understand that what she had made was for her. It turns out all the girls thought they had to hand back what they had made. We had to get Henry to come over and explain that they could keep their jewellery. I felt so bad!
Anyway, the trip was a huge success and I am anxious to read the write up by one of our student travelers.
December 8, 2012
We started off the day at the farm today. We got some planting and staining done for the garden as well as prepared for a few distributions and cleaned up the warehouse. Everything went well but after lunch came the fun part!
We went out to Huay Kha Loke boarding school just outside of Mae Pa. Jim (the headmaster) and the kids happily greeted us and helped us unload the truck. Once all the students arrived from the dorm, we started handing out clothes to whoever wanted them! Some of them were so proud and were showing them off to their friends, especially the little girls who got cute dresses!
When all the clothes were handed out, Jim took us on a short tour of the school yard. We got to see his self sufficient pig barn system and the ponds with 500 catfish. It was really nice to see that they were working to help raise money for their own school. Before leaving we got to see their garden, geese, turkeys, and even their new puppies who were only 8 hours old.
I think the best part of the day was just seeing the pride on the faces of Jim and his students for their school and all the projects they are working on to benefit it!
A Story by Kaitlyn Juba
SIAST Traveller's story by Jesse Mehler
Tuesday December 4
Kacey's second trip to Thailand
December 3, 2012.
I came to Thailand two years ago with Global Neighbors, and I have to admit that some of the stark contrasts between our life and those of the migrants and refugees had faded. Now t hat I am back here again my drive and determination to help these people has come back full force.
Today we visited New Light School. We spent the morning teaching the kids about snow. We showed the younger kids how to draw snowmen, and taught the older ones how to cut snowflakes from paper.
The kids so New Light School were all smiles today, and it makes my heart smile t o see that. I can see how much happier these kids are compared to two years ago. They were so eager to learn, and they even started improving and adding their own designs to the drawings. To see them talking to each other and helping each other was so great. We ARE making a difference. One person at a time.
Our Story. (November 2012 Work Tour)
Our story began in the early part of 2012 when we met Dave Heppner at the Compassion Resource Warehouse in Victoria whilst helping to load a 40 ft container to Thailand. We have been part of the "warehouse" for a couple of years helping to sort, bag, box and load medical/school supplies, clothes, tools, sewing machines, toys and everything in between that is useful to developing nations. Graham discussed with Dave about making two foot powered wood lathes as he is a wood turner and thought they would be useful to refugees as a possible way of earning a living. Dave thought this was a good idea and suggested we come to Thailand in November. We were at the Farm when the container arrived containing the two lathes. We spent our days unloading the container and distributing the goods amongst various schools, orphanages and refugee camps and medical clinics. Graham was able to demonstrate how to use the lathe to a school in Burma and the students were very interested. The lathe and tools were left at the school along with plans for making more in the future as required.
Our whole trip was full of different experiences and we were amazed at he amount of work that has been accomplished and the ongoing projects that Global Neighbors are involved with, they are making such a difference to many lives. It was a life changing experience for us.
Thank you to our fellow travellers, we so enjoyed your company and we had lots of fun. We really hope to return to Thailand and play a small part with Global Neighbors.
Gillian and Graham Cox
NEW TPC TEACHING CENTER AND DORMITORY BUILDINGS
In February 2011 discussions began with three other NGO`s (Non Government Organizations) in Mae Sot regarding the building of a training facility on our farm. It is the most exciting project to date. Global Neighbors is in charge of constructing the building and the other NGO`s are in charge of programming. Construction of the ``TPC`` building began in June 2011 and was completed mid January 2012. There are already 46 students in the program. We held the grand opening on Feb. 20, 2012.
It is an exciting program, as the students that comprise the student body are from multiple ethnic groups within Burma. In the past, some of their ancestors have been warring against each other. Here they begin to work together, live together, study together, and dance together. It has developed a realization that there are more similarities than differences, and it is this realization that will be needed to rebuild a peaceful Burma.
The TPC students will become Teacher Trainers in Karen state, Burma. They will backpack into the various villages - - some traveling as many as 10 days - - to deliver school supplies and also to equip the 4,700 teachers to become better instructors to over 100,000 students. Many of the teachers in the remote areas have no formal training. There will be immediate benefits for the students.
In Feb. 2012 the construction began on the dorm building that will house the teacher trainers. We have enough funds to build half of the structure. Your support in completing this project would be appreciated. You can donate through Canada Helps :
Or send a cheque to:
Global Neighbors Canada
RR#5 Site 21 Box 30
Prince Albert, Sask
A Traveller's Perspective (Work Tour Feb 2012)
Thursday, February 16th, 2012; 5:30am in Mae Sot (4:30pm on Wednesday in Prince Albert)
Yesterday was one of the harder days so far. We began at the Warehouse, loading two vans and a truck with bags and boxes, and the desks, to be dropped off at 2 different villages. The first village was in the midst of a farming area, carved into a hill, exposed to the daily sun. The school was a brand new one – a simple floor, no furniture at all, a sort of thatched roof; I am sure the desks were welcome there. The children were lined up greeting us, and we were waved into the small laneway by the villagers. It was a "small" village of new immigrants from Burma but they were so glad to see us. We were taken on a tour of the village (all of 5 minutes to get around) and then invited to come into a hut by one of the village women, who served us peanuts cooked in oil and cake as well as tea. It struck me watching her welcoming us into her home that while we might not consider her home to be anything but a hovel, it is, for her, a real home, and she occupies it with a dignity and a self-worth that her current circumstances cannot strip away. We laid out several large tarps and placed what we had brought on them. Then families came in turn and received what we were handing out: dried vegetable mixture, dried apple chips, cucumbers, chili peppers, garlic, onions, cabbage, sardines, bok-choi, and oi; plus a pillow case of clothing; we had enough for 40 families with some leftovers for the village to share. We laid blankets, sheets, and quilts out on one of the tarps and stepped back to allow the village elders to distribute these.
On our way to the next village, we stopped at a village that had recently experienced a fire: 31 homes had been destroyed; at least two people had been burned – one was still in hospital; the other, an older woman, showed us her arm, which still needed treatment. The villagers had already built a dozen new huts and were making holes in the ground for several more . . . 16 holes laid out in a 4 x 4 plan, each of which would anchor a thick bamboo pole forming the outer perimeter of the hut; then bamboo poles would be laid lengthwise to create a floor, and also in a triangle shape to form a roof, which would be thatched over. There was a team from Spain working with this village, and the one Spanish woman (early 20’s. I would say) informed us that it costs about 7,000 bhats to build one house (that is about $250 tops!) Hopefully, Global Neighbours can provide some support here.
The next village also had another group visiting, which had been there all day, so our tour leaders decided that we would simply drop off the clothing and food we had brought with us and move on, so we ended up at an established school, which we had helped build about 4 years ago. One of the young folk with us was on that earlier trip and expressed his amazement at how much the buildings had grown; the middle school had doubled in size. There were children playing soccer and volleyball. There were gardens that the children themselves cared for. There was a church and a weaving business. The girls (grade 11 age) who took us around spoke very clear English and were delighted to have visitors. There were 3 young American workers at this facility – one from Chicago, one from North Carolina, and one from ??? For all the negative things that I think about the US, there are good folk from there as well!
We drove through mostly farming area: corn, garlic, small onions, sugar cane, roses (fields and fields of roses!), potatoes, and other vegetables; it is harvest season for some of these, and much of the work is done by hand! I would say that the agriculture here is thriving. The soil is a shade of red not unlike that found in Prince Edward Island, or along the edge of Thunder Bay.
We also stopped in a mountainside viewing area to relax and have a picnic lunch and take in the amazing water falls . . . a sort of fanning out effect of water flowing over rocks and around trees, separating and coming together again in different patterns, all in the midst of a huge forest. How huge? Some of our group went on a small expedition and found a tree trunk so big that it overwhelmed the trees around it . . . probably 6 to 8 meters across at the base!
With so much time spent out of doors, I got sunburnt across the back of my neck and on my face . . . in spite of wearing a hat! And I was covered in red dirt from head to toe! My white socks were reddish-brown by the end of the day, and I even had to wash my sandals! I realized that I have not worked so hard nor gotten so absolutely dirty since I was a teenager and worked with the neighbours during the summer holiday, haying! And still, this is nothing compared to what I have been seeing around me.
Today we will spend much of our time at the warehouse, I think, . . . the cargo container from Prince Albert was on the highway yesterday and should have arrived in the early evening. It needs to be unloaded and sorted, and then we have to prepare 160 separate bags for the next "distribution" . . . I am learning a whole new set of terms here as well, just in the context of what we are seeking to do!
Rev Tony Thompson
Monday February 13th
Today is our first full day at Mae Sot. Our group of 15 are a mix of first timers and many timers. As always the first day everyone is eager to get started…anxious to accomplish the work set before us, and anxious to meet old friends and spend time making new friends. We started our day by making a brief stop at the Friendship Bridge. It was early in the day but here people were busy setting up their stalls that literally hang between the two countries of Thailand and Myanmar. In the background, we could see the jumble of tarps, bamboo that make up the homes of the people who live here. The poverty is always shocking. Many school age children who live here attend Agape School which was our next stop.
To arrive at Agape School before classes is a treat. Children play in the school yard, many in uniforms, but many come from families that couldn’t possibly provide a such a luxury. We noticed several kids were barefoot. Hard for us to imagine as most wear flip flops that can be purchased for about 19 baht, less than $1. So many kids all running and playing with no supervision. This is something not seen in our country. Although the children are poor and so very needy, there is a certain amount of joy to be seen within the school area. The headmaster Dave is overflowing with joy and this joy is so evident when he speaks to his students, his staff and our group. This is a man who truly serves.
Later at the warehouse we worked diligently preparing for a distribution of relief supplies for about 70 families. Earlier in the day, we had noticed a beautiful little girl, but to our utter horror we realized that the writing on her little jacket made very graphic reference to sexual acts. We knew that we could not ignore this, but what should we do? As we sorted supplies at the warehouse we watched for some beautiful outfits for this child. When we met this little girl later in the day we were able to swap her jacket for several new things. She went off happily and we felt a sense of relief that we were at least able to do this much. We have no doubt whatsoever that she had no idea what her jacket said. It is unthinkable that a piece of child’s clothing could be manufactured with this disgusting content on it.