The circumstances of a refugee in
India are rather different from those in Thailand. In Thailand refugees are
generally confined to camps, not allowed access to public schools, and are in
constant fear of arrest at the whim of the Thai police. None of these
confront the refugee to India, but deep, devastating poverty is every where,
and life is a constant struggle for survival.
A society where life is dirt cheap, where no social services of any kind are
available, and where compassion is usually too costly to consider, works a
grim logic on the people. I will attempt to illustrate this by a few examples
we picked up on our trip Zokawthar a few days ago.
With the help of small committees of teachers and other refugee people, we
support over one hundred students at various levels of study in India. Most
of them are doing quite well in their studies. LalDimMawii, pictured at the
right, is chair of our committee in Zokawthar. Here are some excerpts
selected from stories she told us.
LalChhanHina 11 years of age, broke his leg playing football in 2001. He stayed in a hospital
in Champai for several weeks, but they failed to find the brake in his leg.
Finally his family took him to Burma for an operation to repair the leg, but
the job was poorly done and the bone developed an infection. He has been to
Burma for four operations to kill that infection, and he must go back again
to remove some “rotted bone” in an attempt to secure his recovery. In passing
it was added that his father died some years ago. LalChhanHina is a very good
student and despite his frequent illness and missed school, he completed
class 4 with a 1st division pass. He is pictured at the left. As his picture
shows, moments of fun can be had even for the disabled refugee in Zokawthar.
LalThanKimi withdrew from class 3, and would not return. Her teacher punished
her for not completely memorizing an assignment. The teacher demanded that
she pull on her ears and complete 200 deep knee bends without stopping. She
tried but fell over after 60 knee bends, and was unable to continue. She
became afraid of the teacher and simply refused to return to class. Her
mother was too frightened to complain to or about the teacher. Obviously she
failed class 3. After some encouragement and persuasion by our committee, she
is starting class 3 over again as school begins this year.
LalTanPuii, a 12 year old girl failed class 3. We were told by way of
explanation that her parents are divorced, and she lives with her father, two
younger brothers and a younger sister. The father was hit by a automobile and
can no longer work properly. Because she is the oldest girl in the family,
she is the substitute mother, cleaning, cooking, and caring for her siblings
simply does not leave enough time for her to study.
Liz and I are particularly interested in having one or two of you join us on
our trip to Mizoram State of India. As the picture of a small section of the
capitol city of Aizawl shows, it is a very scenic place, but you wont be
there just to enjoy the visual spectacle. You will be engaged with people who
are amazed and deeply appreciative of the generosity we share with them. Liz
and I enjoy our work with these people immensely, and we want some of you to
share in the interesting and fulfilling work we do. Come join us in Mizoram
State, one of the more remote and unusual parts of the world.
Jan. 12 - 15: Interviewed
university students from Thammaset, Rangsit, Mahidol, Bangkok University
and Sukothai Open University.
Jan. 15 – 16: Traveled to
Calcutta and Aizawl, and met with the Chin Education Committee to discuss
Jan. 17: Met with Regional Chin
Women’s Organizations from: Saiha, Lunglei, Lawngtlai, Sairang, Sangau,
and Bualpurii. Received reports and discussed future of program. We spent
some time with each group discussing the importance of mentoring their
Jan. 18 – 20: Traveled to
Champai and Zokawthar, met with students and committees.
Jan. 20 – 24: Returned and
completed work with students and committees in Aizawl, and traveled to
Tom & Liz Brackett
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