Enote 14 – Engineering StudentsJanuary 12, 2005
Liz and I arrived after a long flight from wintry Hamilton, -23 hours in the air, and about 34 hours from door to door-, to a balmy Bangkok. No remorse for those of you settling into woolens, overshoes, and the long winter ahead, just an invitation to come along sometime, to visit and help us with our work.
Thet Khaing offered to pick us up and guide us to SIIT, the Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology of Thammasat University. He and the other two students we were to meet there, are the only three we support who study engineering. On the way over he told us about his work for the Burmese refugees who are suffering from the recent effects of the tsunami. He was the organizer of a program involving many students from universities all over Bangkok to contribute to the victims. He told us that he had so far collected over 60,000 baht (about $1,500), and he is still collecting more funds. Last weekend he joined a few other students traveling to the Phuket area, to oversee personally the distribution of those funds to families of Burmese construction workers. He reports that there were 800 Burmese living in Thailand lost in the tsunami, and many more missing.
We were reminded of a recent visit to a refugee family who had just immigrated to the United States. They had collected pennies, and with the additional help of their church community were planning to send $300 to the AIDS victims at Dr. Cynthia’s Clinic.
It is encouraging to know that so many of our friends and students we support are so interested to share their meager resources and to support their people. If peace and stability are ever to come to the tortured country of their origins, it will be through the efforts of people like these.
Meet our SIIT Students
The picture shows our engineering students. They are from left to right The Reh, Hsar Kyi Lar, and Thet Khaing, a Karenni, a Karen and a Burman respectively.
After a slow start two years ago, they are all in their third year, studying civil engineering. Their original plan had been to help to build the badly needed infrastructure of a free Burma. But increasingly events have suggested that will not be possible in the near future. So now they are rethinking their future. As Hsar Kyi Lar said, soon the United Nations will come to our refugee camp with a choice for all of us: do you want to stay in camp as a refugee, go back to Burma, or seek asylum in the West? It is hard to imagine how we would choose under those same circumstances.
Jan. 12 – 15: Meeting students in Thammasat, Assumption, RamKhamHaeng, and Bangkok University.
Jan. 16 – 24: Travel to Mizoram Sunday through one week Monday, and meet with committees, students and new refugees in Aizawl, Champai and Zokawthar.
Jan. 25 – 27: Travel to Nagaland Tuesday through Thursday, and meet with students at Patkai College.
Jan. 28 – 30: Return to Bangkok, and meet with Mission College students.
Jan. 31 – Feb. 4: Trip to Kanchanaburi, and Sangklaburi and meeting with students and teachers.
We wish you all the best for the coming year,
Tom & Liz