Enote 09 – Greeting our arrivalFebruary 18, 2004
News from the Hill-Tribe Area
We have just returned from the border country north of Mae Sot. This country is rather primitive. The first road was built just over a dozen years ago and electricity has just been installed up to Mae Salit, but not beyond. There are no ways of rapid communication with the outside world, and thus we have been out of touch. We spent several happy days on this trip visiting old friends and making new acquaintances. We also met with parents of the hill-tribe children we support at the Kler Day School.
A Visit to Maw Kwee
You may recall that our last brochure discussed the beginnings of a new school for hill-tribe children at Maw Kwee, a small village about a half dozen kilometers north of Mae Salit. This story is about our first return trip to that village.
As the truck approached the start of the trail leading into the village, we were surprised to see a group of about 20 men including the village leader gathered to meet us. All insisted on shaking hands with us as soon as we stepped out of the truck. They had come complete with a harpist, pictured at left, to escort us to the village. The trek, no longer an easy walk for this aging couple, was made considerably more pleasant by the joyful tunes played. The path at some points was very steep and the gravel had a tendency to give way under our feet causing us to slip, but Liz and I were never in danger of falling down. At the slightest misstep we were immediately grabbed by very strong men and held until we regained our balance. (I was reminded of a time many years ago when Liz and I were being accompanied on another such walk. An elderly Karen lady was crossing a foot bridge made from a simple log, just in front of Liz. When she got half way across the bridge she suddenly stopped, thinking that Liz might need a hand in crossing she turned around in the middle of this bridge, walked back to Liz and offered her hand and then proceeded to walk backward across this one log while holding Liz's hand to support her.) As we began to approach the village we were met by the remainder of the village aligned on both sides of the path we followed. We were first greeted by the teachers and children and then by the women of the village.
The villagers had decided to hold the school closing ceremony on that day, and so we all assembled in the school building to hear songs from the children, and talks from Lu Lu Paw and True Pa Na the teachers, Saw Cree the village leader, and Saw Lay Taw the project director. Liz and I were asked to give our comments and to hand out prizes for the students. A little excitement was created by the collapsing of the bamboo floor, caused by too many people crowded into the school. That moment quickly passed and the entire ceremony was enjoyed by all. It was followed by a banquet given at the teachers house.
- Visited the Bee Law Khee School across the River Kwai with friends and supporters Dorothy and John Terrill.
- Visited with several students attending Ratchabaht Kamphaengphet in Mae Sot.
- Met with other project directors and friends in Mae Sot including Dr. Cynthia, Tip, a Thai Karen we have worked with in the past, and Curt & Cathy, directors of a water purification by filtration project.
- Visited Dr. Cynthia's school, a school we have supported since its beginning four years ago, which now teaches over two hundred children.
- Met with prospective students at Mae Hla refugee camp, and Mae Salit.
- Attended a Karen wedding ceremony for four couples, also attended by the Bishop of Pa'An and seven priests.
- Met the Rev. Stylo, who works with us to support the boarding house at Loikaw, the capital of Karenni State in Burma.
- Had a very interesting discussion with the parents of the Kler Day school assisted by Naw Tamla.
We hope this note finds you all happy and healthy. Please write us with any questions or comments. We will be happy to respond.
Tom & Liz