Enote 15 – Trip to NagalandFebruary 04, 2005
The real point of this enote is to tell you about a new opportunity related to the recent Tsunami disaster, but first we bring you up-to-date with a brief summary of the past two weeks.
After a hectic few days interviewing students in Bangkok, we left for Mizoram State, India on January 16. Monday and Tuesday we met in Aizawl with several Chin organizations helping us with supporting primary, secondary and college students. Wednesday we made the auto trip to Champai. After 7 hours, 200 kilometers and 3,500 to 4,000 curves we arrived at a very nice lodge overlooking the rice paddies and the hills of Burma. We met three village leaders who were driven out of their land a week ago, and gave them a small amount from our personal funds to help their families accompany them. The following day we spent at ZoKawThar, a small village right on the border of India and Burma. Back to Aizawl on Friday for more committee meetings with women’s organizations from Saiha, Lunglei, Lawngtlai, and Sirang, all towns in Mizoram. Over the weekend we met individually with nearly fifty high school and college students, selected by the committees and supported by you. The following Monday we left Mizoram for Calcutta to get the plane for Dimapur, Nagaland.
A Visit to Nagaland and a new project
Dr. Wati Aier and his wife Alongla, are our partners in helping five Karen students at Patkai Christian College in Chumukidima. They have been very valuable serving as hosts, almost parents, to our young students as they study in this strange land. As we shared an evening meal with them, we talked about the tsunami and its devastating effects on the people.
They told us of their hopes to start a program for the tsunami victims of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Although these islands lie in the Andaman Sea south of Burma, they are governed by India. As you probably know, India has been reluctant to accept aid from the West, and news of the needs there is hard to obtain. In fact we had heard nothing about the effects on these islands or of any needs of the villagers there. It turns out that Dr. Wati had sent his Academic Dean, Dr. Wati is Principal of a Theological Seminary, to the islands to assess the needs and has found out they are indeed great. (Although good figures are hard to come by, estimates of the dead range as high as 20,000 to 30,000 people.)
Dr. Wati plans to send four recent graduates of his school to survey the needs of the orphaned children, and to establish a school and/or a boarding house to provide basic education, counseling services and a home like environment. We discussed many details, and became convinced that even though the project does not fit exactly into our stated policy (it does not deal primarily with refugees), we could be of great help by providing seed money to support the workers as they get started. Being assured that the project was entirely secular, we agreed to give support for the first 6 months to the team, at a cost of about $3,000. The islands have an interesting racial and ethnic make-up, having Hindi, Bengali, Karen and other more primitive groups of people. The Karen migrated there from Burma when the British still controlled both countries, and are primarily in the fishing industry.
Several of you have asked us about ways you can donate to Tsunami relief with assurance that your funds will be put to good use. We believe, this to be a unique project in which we are confident the funds will be put to good use.
A Trip to Htee Ler Klay and Bee Law Khee
As I write, we have just returned from three very happy, very busy days visiting our friends who help us with two schools in Kanchanaburi Province. We were joined by a very enthsiastic young woman whom we met through an email from Paul Bartlett, whom some of you remember from Colgate and Hamilton. Alyson was a classmate of Paul’s at Princeton, and continues to keep in touch with him. Paul, one of our enthusiastic supporters, suggested she might be just the right person to join us. He was right on. Alyson quickly became a member of our team and was very helpful in sorting out the rather complex situations we ran into in dealing with the circumstances of our two schools, Tee Ler Klay, and Bee Law Khee. Thanks a lot Alyson, we hope tos see you again. Liz and Alyson are shown holding flowers each presented to us, one by one, by the 42 primary students at Tee Ler Klay.
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.
Our best to all. We are having a tremendous trip,
Tom & Liz