Enote 69 – A busy TripFebruary 12, 2011
Since I wrote you last January, I have been so busy that I have barely had time to catch my breath, much less write to you. So I'll try in this note to bring you up-to-date on the details of our trip.
We left Dhaka for Calcutta on Thursday January 13, and made it to Aizawl on the following day. Although we usually have stayed at the Ritz hotel which has a good dinning room and a beautiful location at the very top of the city, this year we stayed at the Clover Inn, whose main advantage is that it has wireless internet service. It is located next to David's Kitchen also a good place to eat, and to hold meetings with our guests. Both the hotel staff and the restaurant staff were very accomodating to us and tried to satisfy our every need. During our stay in Aizawl, we met with several school committees, the Aizawl CWO, the High School Committees of Saiha, Lunglei, and Lawngtlai, many students, and our helpers, Chin Chin, Pianga, Tulanga, Chhhungi, and Kianlova. After a short time we took a trip to a trip to Champhai, and Zokhawthar.
Champhai and Zokhawthar:
These places, high in the mountains, close to the Burma border, are very beautiful and very, very cold. The picture on the left shows Liz with the Champhai Chin Women in front of a gigantic poinsettia. The right picture was taken from our lodge room overlooking the way to Zokhawthar. It shows the only flat land we have seen in all of Mizoram.
This year we did not meet our fund raising goals, so we have had to cut our support in all our programs about 5% in order to reduce our expenses. However we did hear about a village where very poor children simply could not afford to buy uniforms for school. In our previous lives, both Liz and I would have considered school uniforms the least important of education expenses, but we now realize how important these are for the children. So even though in another world arranged according to our priorities we would not have given this support, we did promise a one-time gift of school uniforms to the poorest children of Saikhum village. On Sunday January 23, we left Aizawl for Calcutta hoping never again to be as cold as we had been.
Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Bamboo School, and Sangklaburi:
Back in Bangkok on January 24, we set about reviewing new applications and seeing continuing students. On Wednesday we had a small party for graduating seniors at the Bua, one of our favorite Thai restaurants. A new TRep for the southern area, Doug joined us, and is shown at the right with one of our graduating seniors.
Doug is well connected in Thailand, and was able to bring along two Thai women. One was a retired professor -Doug's research advisor- at Chulalorngkorn, and the other, his aunt through his Thai wife, is a retired librarian from Kasetsart university. Both have studied in the US and both have perfect English. Not only were they a tremendous asset to have, but they were a great deal of fun. Over the next few days from the 24th to the 30th, we met students from Kanchanaburi, and Thong Pha Phum to Sangklaburi, and we stopped at the Bamboo School. This place is a combination, school, hospital, orphanage, and ambulance service to the local people of Bong Ti village. Catherine Riley-Bryan, a New Zealander is the visionary leader of this community. She is shown in the picture on the right with her latest adoptee, an abandoned child.
Loi Tai Leng and Mae Hong Son:
Loi Tai Leng is the second largest of nine Shan camps on the border between Shan State Burma, and Thailand. It is reached from Chiang Mai by a long difficult journey, finishing with a one hour climb up a rough, steep road to the top of a mountain. We arrived to spend the 64th anniversary of their independence day, and observed this camp strongly promoted national culture.
The picture shows the Loi Tai Leng school as the major feature along the top of the hill with dormitories down the hill on the right. A small medical facility is at the far left. We had a good opportunity to talk with a few teachers, and the head master of the school.
In Mae Hong Son we met a graduate of ours whos name is Purity. She works for the UNHCR, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, as a translator for Karen, Burmese and English. She assists refugees in the application/interview process, as they are questioned about their reasons for seeking asylum in a third country. When Purity first came to see us about a scholarship, she came from Burma, and we were uncertain about her long-term commitment to refugees. Liz and I have been very pleased that Purity has stayed on the border to help her Karen people.
- Jan. 24 Departed Bangkok for Kanchanaburi.
- Jan. 25 Met with Nancy in Thong Pha Phum. and Catherine at the Bamboo School.
- Jan. 26, 28 Met with new students in Sangklaburi.
- Jan. 30 Returned to Bangkok and met with Myint Wei director of DEAR Burma.
- Feb 2-4 Flew to Chiang Mai. Met with Eh Hser director of Hod Blessing House.
- Feb. 4 Held party for seniors and alumni.
- Feb 7 Spent Shan National Holiday in Loi Tai Leng. Met with head master of the National School.
- Feb. 9 Met Rosie, director of the Nai Soi School, and Aung Sun Myint director of the Karenni Teachers Project.
- Feb. 9 Held party for seniors and alumni.
- Currently, Feb. 12, meeting with project directors Sai Yee Tip and Sha Bwe Moo.
Soon on to Mae Sotand the last part of our trip.
Best Wishes to all of you,