Enote 11 – Boy with AIDSJune 25, 2004
It has been a while since we last contacted you. I did not realize that it has been almost three months since we sent you our last enote from Thailand. That really gives meaning to the use of "occasional" to describe the frequency of our enotes. Our excuse, inadequate though it is, is that we have been very busy. Each year we face a major task when we return from Asia, and make decisions on all old and new scholarship applicants and projects. The final decisions are made by our Trustees at one of our biannual meetings, and Liz and I spend days in preparing our recommendations. This year we are supporting ninety-three students at the university level, over thirty students at the high school level, and some eighteen educational projects in Burma, Thailand, and India. The students have to be selected from about double that number of applicants.
Although there are moments when Liz and I feel the burden of our work, they are quickly suppressed by the dozens of statements of gratitude we receive from all those we, with your help, serve. Here are the last line of a long email just sent to me last week: "Thank you very much for being kind to me. You are very greatful to me. May God Bless You. best regards, moo".
Web site renovated
We did have time to complete a badly needed renovation to our web site. The original one was written in HTML which is rather tedious, and thus the final product was a little primitive. I finally bit the bullet and learned Front Page, which helped a lot. We have pages describing our staff, our programs (including an annual report for 2003), a sample enote and a very short introduction to the ethnic groups of Burma. That page includes links to further explanation for those interested, and it also has a colorful map of Burma, which we think you will like. However it will be obvious to some that I am not particularly artistic, and I am sure the site could be greatly improved by someone willing and able to make suggestions. I have also included an easy way for you to support us through the site. Please look at it and use the response page to make suggestions, praise is also welcomed. The site's location is http://brackett.colgate.edu.
Reflections on the Trip
Now that we have shaken the dust of Asia from our shoes, we can look back at a very busy and successful time. As always in that complex land, our diverse experiences included some joy and some sorrow.
During our trip north along the border to visit our school at the Maw Kwee village (subject of enote 9) Liz and I stopped in Mae Salit, a small village near the refugee camp we lived and taught in on our very first visit to Thailand in 1992. There Naw Tamla invited us to attend a wedding of four Karen couples, one of the grooms was her youngest brother. The wedding was a very big and festive occasion. A party was given the night before with two bands and several singers. A bishop and a priest came from Burma, and four other priests from Thailand, and of course, many other visitors from near and far.
I was delighted to see one of the very first young students I had taught at camp Gray Hta. Then a very clever and pretty young girl; now a beautiful young woman. I took this picture of her dressed in her finest for the wedding.
Earlier, on a trip with Dorothy and John Terrill (reported in our Spring 2004 Newsletter) to visit the school at Bee Law Khee, we stopped at Paw Lu Lu's Safe House in Huey Mali. The Safe House is a place providing food, shelter and minimal care to refugees whom Thailand wants to deport to Burma, but because they have been disabled by the war are no longer able to care for themselves. Amidst all of the good things that happen to us, and there are many, many such good things, the war continues to leave its mark. This picture of a young AIDS victim, sitting on his bed, a cup of water, some simple medicine, and his meager worldly possessions in a plastic bag, looking directly at me, not in pain or anger, just with a great big question, "Why?". It startled me at the time; now it haunts me.
Met with the Board of Trustees to decide on all projects and awards.
Met with the Hamilton Area Advisory Council to discuss future directions for our work.
Rebuilt the Foundation web site.
Gave a public talk in Hamilton.
Distributed payments and communicated with some 130 students and project leaders.
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