Enote 50 – Kanchanaburi and the River KwaiFebruary 02, 2009
Kanchanaburi and the river Kwai:
Fortified by a short stay in Bangkok, accompanied by our stalwart TRep Judy Noyes and David and Barbara Shirley, we set off on the Kanchanaburi trip. Those of you who remember World War II and the Japanese occupation of southeast Asia, will know that Kanchanaburi was the locus of many atrocities committed by the Japanese upon the allied prisoners of war. The city itself has a large cemetery containing the graves of American, British, Australian and other prisoners of war. Further north in the province along the railroad that passes over the river Kwai, is a place where prisoners were required to work in an emergency effort to dig a cut through the rock for the train. Torches were used at night so work could proceed 24 hours a day, and the place gained the name hell-fire pass. An engraved plaque mounted at one end describes the help of a doctor who cared for the sick and dying. It ends with these words, ”WHEN YOU GO HOME, TELL THEM OF US AND SAY WE GAVE OUR TOMORROW FOR YOUR TODAY.” Just thought I’d pass it along.
Because of the large diversity of conditions we see here, this trip always seems to provide emotional highs and lows. Starting out one morning with an unsettling visit to the Paw Ker Taw village school, which left us wondering whether or not to continue our support there, we had a delightful afternoon visit to a school which we helped for several years until it was taken over by the Thai. It is now part of the Daw Cha Daw program and is prospering. The following day we visited Paw Lu Lu’s Safe House, a place of sanctuary for the diseased, the disturbed, and the very old. Although it is a gracious gift from Paw Lu Lu, the Thai Burmese Border Consortium, and other benefactors, it is not an easy sight to see. The next day Judy Noyes had a marathon day of interviews. We finally closed the day with a party for our graduates. The picture on the left, starting from the left shows: Kanyar, from Ramkhamhaeng, she works in Thai courts in Bangkok translating between Thai, Mon, Karen and Burmese for boys and girls abused by Thai employers; Moo Moo from Rajapaht Kanchanaburi, she works in an orphanage in Huay Malai helping the manager with office work. She also has befriended one of the orphan children who you see second from the right; standing is Nampeung, she graduated from Mission College, and now works for the MSF (Doctors Without Borders), ordering supplies and traveling to the Burma border to visit her Karen and Mon people; Finally Mali is an accountant who also graduated from Rajapaht Kanchanaburi and now works in Huay Malai. The young man is Kanyar’s brother and is hoping to get support from us. Not shown is one more young woman, Somsri, who graduated from Bangkok University, and also works as a manager at the Kwai River Christian Hospital. It is nice to end our day on a high.
To all of you who may be shoveling snow, or otherwise dealing with a difficult climate, we encourage you to think about warm sunny Thailand. Come and visit sometime.
Best wishes to all,