Enote 61 – Songs, Parties, Scholarships

March 12, 2010

A refugee child speaks:

Dear Friends,

Sorry about the late enote. I had much to say but my computer broke down in February and simply would not work, so I had to wait until I returned.

Tamla's Group

A refugee child speaks:
We visited the children at Tamla's orphanage and they greeted us with a song. We were told that it had been written in Karen by a young refugee, and we asked for a translation. Here are two verses:

"When everyone worries and there is no hope, / When all face trouble and despair, / Some leave us, their home, and their work, / Some move to distant lands." /
"Oh God, please listen to our prayer, / Forgive us and place your mercy upon us. / Oh God help us, and give us a good leader, / To show us the way back home."

Despite the children's smiles and enthusiasm, we left a little disheartened, and talked on the way back about their hopes for the future.

Can graduates from the CDC go to Rajapaht?:

That's the question we asked ourselves when we visited Dr. Cynthia's school called the Children's Development Center or CDC. The school is primarily intended for children of the staff of Dr. Cynthia's Mae Tao Clinic, but also for the children of migrant workers in the area, and also for some of the many orphans who show up along the border seeking refuge. The school, which we started over ten years ago and now has over 1000 children, uses the Burmese language and teachers, and is not accredited in the Thai school system. However the Thai Ministry of Education has expressed a desire to accomodate foreign children into its schools. What remains is to find a way to help the children learn enough Thail language and culture to suceed in higher education in Thailand.

A Rajabaht is a teacher's college, now finding university status in Thailand. The branch of the Kamphengphet Rajabaht in Mae Sot (near to the CDC) is only about five years old and is seeking students. Liz and I visited the principal there, and said we --supporters of dozens of their students over the last several years-- were interested in helping CDC graduates to enter her school, and to that effect we have given two scholarship awards to those students selected by the CDC staff who could enter the Rajabaht this year.

We have left it to the CDC and Rajabaht staff to work out the details, and we hope for the best. The picture below on the left shows the very first nursery school teacher we hired for Dr. Cynthia with her husband the headmaster of the CDC. The school itself is shown in the background.

Alumni Party                  

Party anyone?:
Over the last few years, as our alumni have begun to accumulate, we have begun to give dinner parties to students who have graduated in the major cities that we visit. This year we received a very special prize. Anug Win Shwe, and his wife Shelia Aye, two of our older graduates invited us out for supper one evening. We have had some of the best fish there that I can remember having in Thailand. What surprised us even more was a donation they gave to BREF of 10,000 baht. At the current exchange rate of 32.5 baht to the dollar that's about $307! That is the first time, the first of many we hope, that a refugee family has donated to our work.

The picture above on the right shows, Nongkran, who just graduated from Rajapaht in Chineese language studies; Victor Samboo, principal of Eden Valley high school at Mae Hla camp; Sansanee, who graduated from Naresuan University and now works for COERR a Catholic refugee agency; and Peh Dee, a graduate of Mission College and a teacher of English at Eden Valley highschool.


  • Gave an alumni party for some 15 students in Chiang Mai.
  • Traveled to Mae Hong Son.
  • Met Kyaw Hla Sein, Pu Meh and Rosy to discuss our school for the Karenni children.
  • Met with Khu Oo Reh, Aung Sun Myint and some back-pack medics to discuss the Karenni Teachers Project.
  • Gave an alumni party to 5 students in Mae Hong Son.
  • Traveled to Mae Sariang and visited alumna Peh Htoo who works for the Karen Womens Organization.
  • Traveled to Mae Sot and met with Dr. Cynthia, Eh Thwa, two back-pack medics, the CDC staff, and Rajabaht principal.
  • Gave an alumni party to 17 students in Mae Sot.
  • Traveled back to Chiang Mai for meeting with Sai Yee Thip about the Loi Tai Leng school.
  • Final review with Chris about work this year.
  • Returned home with a stop in Kauai, one of the Hawaiian islands to visit friends.

All in all it was a very busy and successful trip.

Thank you very much for your interest,


Your day is not finished until you've done someone a favor.