Enote 48 – Aye Aye ThantDecember 04, 2008
We first met her, the youngest of three Shan sisters in 2004 when she applied for a scholarship. She was hoping to study medicine, but when she was unable to do that she signed up for a gemology course. Liz erupted at that. Surely you can find a better alternative than that. She finally ended up in a very difficult 5-year program of science and law at Naresuan University, a provincial university in Thailand. One year a visiting professor of law came from one of Thailand's most distinguished universities in Bangkok. The professor, a specialist in human rights law, lectured on Thai law regarding citizenship and immigrant people. Luenhorm got up courage and later knocked on her door to tell the professor that she was one of those people who had suffered the discrimination being described. Since that time Luenhorm has been able to get an ID card, and now works with the professor on various projects, during summer vacations.
Now Meet Pooki:
She is a Karen nursing student we support at a regional school in a town south of Chiang Mai. Pooki has always lived in Thailand, but as a member of a minority she has been unable to receive full citizenship, was fearful to travel and was unable to open a bank account. I have to say Liz connected the dots and suggested the two young women contact each other. Perhaps the Shan Luenhorm could help the Karen Pooki. Earlier this month we were delighted to get an email from Luenhorm: "I have the good news about Pooki, she already got THAI ID CARD now. Regards, Luenhorm"
That's what we really like to see. For the rest of her life, Pooki will remember that she got help with a tough problem from a Shan, and will know, even though they don't know much about one another, Karen and Shan can still be friends.
After Luenhorm finishes this year, she wants to return to her people -there are an estimated 2 million Shan people in Thailand- and help them with their inevitable legal difficulties in an alien land.
Finally Meet Aye Aye Thant:
Another Karen, this woman is perhaps the most intense politically active person we have met in Thailand. She is always searching for examples of injustice. One night we took her along with other students that we support in Bangkok, out to a café for supper. As we sat down she asked rhetorically, "Do you know what these people are paid for their work? Only a few hundred baht a night. It's unjust wages." She's a feminist, a very hard worker, and apparently absolutely without fear, in describing her plans for political protest when she returns to Burma. She is also very grateful for her education. As shown by a 'Thank You' letter she recently wrote, and which I reproduce exactly as she wrote it below.
My name is Aye Aye Thant. I am studying at Rangsit University at Philosophy, Politics, and Economics program. At first I would like to say thank you very much for your donation. Without your donation, we, the future stars from Burma cannot bright. We got the light from you and we can share our light to our miserable Burmese people who stay under the dark military regime. The futures of our miserable Burmese people are depending on the future stars from Burma who are studying with the help of you. Without your light, the future stars can not bright. When Burma rewrites her history about to restore the democracy in Burma, she can not omit the donations from you. The educated Burmese students who got their support from you will tell the history of Burma. Your donation is very important for me and my people to rebuild my country. May God bless you.
Sincerely Aye Aye Thant
Just last month we were distressed to learn that Aye Aye Thant became ill with ovarian cancer. She has had an operation and will take chemo-therapy soon. We have just committed $1,000 to help with her medical bills from the Donna Lee Harvey Memorial Fund which has been established to help with medical problems of our students. Health care is very good in Thailand and we are cautiously optimistic that this feisty courageous young woman will survive to continue her work for her people.
Sep. 2: Met with Kay Roberts, donor to the Fund.
Sep. 16: Mailed out 800 DVD’s as our annual fund appeal mailing.
Oct. 4: BREF Trustees Meeting.
Oct. 4: Display of items at an “emma’s revolution” concert, a UN Association Event.
Oct. 10-17: On holiday at Cape Cod.
Oct. 18: Talked and showed DVD at event hosted by Russ and Cristy Brackett.
Oct. 19: Short talk at First Parish Church, Weston, MA.
Nov. 20: Talked at the Refugee Resettlement Center in Utica.
Nov. : Reported on first year grant, and received second year grant from B. K. Kee Foundation for over $40,000 for work in India.
Nov. : Beginning preparation for next trip to Asia, starting Jan. 4 (let's hope the airport is open by then!)
Dec. : Still raising funds for our work in Thailand so we can continue existing scholarships and have a new “class.”
We are always interested in your ideas and suggestions. Please contact us at any time.
Best wishes to you.