Enote 32 – In Huay Malai

January 07, 2007

Back In Asia Again:

On Monday January 8, after a short flight from Syracuse the preceding day, we took the Thai Airways flight non-stop from JFK to Bangkok. I highly recommend it. At 17 hours it is the quickest way to make the trip.

As Liz and I continue in our work, we appreciate more and more that it is about relationships, and events in the young lives of our students. And there are many, many more than we can report. After a brief respite to adjust to our surroundings, Thai food, air-conditioning, conversation about the recent bombing in Bangkok, we started our interviews of continuing students in Bangkok. We saw Jinaputta, our only Buddhist monk student, Zau Phan, and Ye Htut. The latter is a very bright student at Mahidol, who has already started writing articles about the current conditions in Burma. Against the background of the recent coup in Thailand, we had a very good discussion about the problem of implementing democracy in Burma. If democracy ever does come to that poor country, it will be because of well intentioned intelligent persons like Ye Htut.

Kanyar, after trying to set an appointment and changing it a few times –this was all confusing to us because her English was not good enough to make clear the reason— finally had a mutual friend explain that she was needed at court in her role helping abused children receive some modicum of justice, or at least release from their abuse. We finally met her last night after returning from a party we gave with about seven students to celebrate the upcoming completion of a very difficult degree in engineering for one of them.

Interviews in Huay Malai:

Last Friday we left Bangkok for Huay Malai, a small village, characterized by Karen residents: --many of them refugees, substantial poverty, and a strong Christian ethic . Huay Malai lies in a remote area of western Thailand near its border with Burma. Paw Lulu, keeper of the Safe House and resident of Huay Malai, had arranged for us to interview twenty students from her town, who wanted support for attending high schools, and vocational schools in the area. Some may recall that Huay Malai is also the site of a rather well-known, missionary hospital, the Kwai River Christian Hospital.

JaruneeAfter a three hour road trip, and five hours of interviews we were beginning to tire when I heard a statement from one students which captured the life of these people with astounding clarity. It was in response to my question “What is the single most important thing, we should know about you?” In response this high school senior woman said, ”Even though we have many difficulties in our lives, we are happy to live and to love one another here.” To me this spoke volumes about relationships in this loving Christian community, and the nurture it provides to its people. Later that evening we spoke to Darapon, one of our alumna who studied medical technology, and returned to work at the hospital. She spoke of her interest to do further study, perhaps in Australia, but always to return to Huay Malai. I have not yet met a person who has lived in this community for a number of years, who does not want to return.

Off tomorrow for India.


  • Nov., Dec.: Completing Fund-raising activities for 2007.

  • Dec.: Newsletter Mailing.

  • Dec.: Trip Preparation.

  • Jan. 8-9: Flight to Bangkok.

  • Jan. 10 to present: Student Interviews: at Ramkhamhaeng, and Rangsit universities.

  • Jan. 18: Flight to India.

    Wishing you the best of the New Year,
    Tom & Liz Brackett

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