Enote 25 – VolunteersFebruary 24, 2006
I had just sat down to begin this enote when Liz handed me an envelope which had been slipped under the door of our hotel room in Mae Sot. It was a valentine “For a Special Couple”, the first I can remember we ever received as a couple, and a good reminder of the date. Today our trip is half over and we must press on for we have much yet to do.
Occasionally persons interested in volunteering their talents have contacted us to find a way they can help. If anyone is currently interested, we would recommend a month or two, at Kyaw Hla Sein’s vocational school in Nai Soi. People may contact us for details.
This year we are fortunate to have join us Judy and Hoppy Winfield. Because Judy has been heavily involved in refugee resettlement and resettled many Karen people in the US, she and her husband know them well, but had never seen them as oppressed, stateless persons in Asia. Their own comments follow.
We are pleased to have the opportunity to travel with Tom and Liz. Meeting teachers, students, and visiting schools and projects has been a highlight of our trip. American money certainly goes a long way in Asia. You can sponsor a teacher for less than $150 a year. We are impressed with the Brackett’s knowledge of Thai/Burmese culture & their commitment to ensuring that Foundations dollars are wisely spent.
Thailand is such a beautiful country, economical and very user friendly, with gracious people and fabulous food. Our only regret is that we did not do this sooner!
Judy and Hoppy have had a good chance to see our refugee friends and co-workers in the Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son areas, and will soon have the chance to do the same in Mae Sot. The first picture shows Judy interviewing Nantikan, a student of ours at Payap University. For herself Nantikan says, she would like to go to a third country, but her parents are not interested in moving to a new culture, a new language and a new way of life.
The second picture shows Hoppy engaged in a discussion with Julay about the latter’s favorite subject, politics. While Julay supports a free, and democratic Burma, he also supports strong leaders. We are told, he supports the prime minister of Thailand who is currently under fire for the tax free sale of several billions of baht from his personal holdings. We can agree with Julay that politics is a complex subject.
The final picture is of Liz and Judy, explaining the principles of sound budget and accounting practices to Kyaw Hla Sein, who has a noble dream of a vocational, boarding school for his people, which he has had running for about one year.
Jan. 25 - 26: Returned to Bangkok and Mission College and visited with ten students there.
Jan. 27 - 28: Interviewed five students at ABAC, and nine students at Ramkhamhaeng University.
Jan. 29: Met with the DEAR Burma project in Bangkok. This is a large school for the undocumented immigrant people of Burma. They are working in the poorest of jobs, as housemaids, gas station attendants, and very low paying factory jobs. The project offers instruction in Thai, English, and computing.
Jan. 30 – Feb. 03: Traveled to Kanchanaburi and Sangklaburi, visiting three students from Rajaphat Kanchanaburi, and one from a vocational college in Kanchanaburi. Also visited Drum Publications, Htee Wah Mee, and Htee Lay Pa two schools we have supported in remote villages in the area. (Htee Lay Pa is found at the end of a 3 ½ hour trip, we suffered on the bed of a four-wheeled drive pickup truck. Let me never again complain about the six hour drive to Champai.) Also visited Pi Lo Ki, and another new school across the river Kwai. Met Judy and Hoppy Windfield who are accompanying us for the next twenty days.
Feb. 04 – 10: Traveled from Bangkok, to Chiang Mai, and Mae Hong Son. Met with students in universities, rajamangkala, rajaphats, and some commercial schools. Also reviewed projects with Ka Lah Law, (the Karenni teachers project), Kyaw Hla Sein (the vocational school), Khur Hsen (the Shan Loi Tai Leng school), and traveled to Mae Sot for the next phase of our trip.
Here is hoping this enote finds you all happy and well, and that you were all able to celebrate Valentine’s Day, as we were, with satisfaction.
Tom & Liz Brackett