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Qnote 12
January 14, 2013
Dear Friends,

It's been a busy week since we started our journey on Jan. 7 at 7am in Syracuse. From there we took a 2 hour flight to Chicago, followed by a 13 hour flight to Tokyo, and then a 6 hour flight to Bangkok, counting waiting in airports and taxis to and from them, the trip was 31 hours from door to door. A day's respite included a delightful, unexpected conversation with Wati Aier, a Naga theologian we worked with several years ago, and whose daughter lived with us one summer in Hamilton. The next day found us with Colleypaw, a new Karen volunteer, back on the plane to India to visit our Chin friends.

We arrived on Friday after a stimulating landing (visibility was so low we circled the airport for about half a hour before giving it a try), and seem to have been in an endless series of meetings and interviews ever since.

You may recall that last year we were subject of an investigation by the criminal investigation department (CID) of India -I never dreamed I would Meetingachieve such a distinction in my elder years-, and as a result were instructed to stop our work in Champhai and Zokhawthar. We have had two meetings with young women from those villages as part of an effort to restart that program. The picture to the right shows Liz and Colleypaw standing, and from left to right Mahlimi, Doni and Kimi. Colleypaw is a Karen who is working with us this year. We have brought her to India to participate in our program with the Chin, and later on we will travel with her and Hannah McClennen to visit our projects in Thailand. She has already shown herself to be of great help in student interviews and with our project leaders.

Mahlimi and Doni are respectively from Zokhawthar and Champhai and are now in the process of rebuilding committees to help us wioth primary education. We have decided to try an experiment this year by limiting new students to a four year literacy program. Children selected primarily on the basis of poverty will enter a four year program (classes 1 through 4) which should be enough to give them the ability to read and write.

One delightful episode involved a university student named Saithangpuia. He is studying pharmacology at a nearby school. I began my usual series of interview questions finding out that after he finishes his Bachelor degree he wants to continue study to the Ph.D. Young BoyOlder BoyNothing ususal here, it seems that all students in Mizoram wish to study as long as possible. He then smiled at me and asked, "you don't remember me?" Well my memory has never been very good, and it certainly is not getting any better. "I can tell you something which you will remember. You have been supporting me since I was a young child." Then it occurred to me, "You won a science prize as a young boy". It just so happened that I had a picture from 2006 in my archives. Take a look at Saithangpuia now and then.

As we look forward to our return to Thailand with its ever new challenges and possibilities, and its warm weather (it is cold here in Aizawl as low as 40° F.), we take pleasure in remembering incidents like this.

So long for now. Expect another note in February.

Best Wishes to all,Tom