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Qnote 15
March 8, 2013

Dear Friends,

Loosing my qnote preparation software was a precursor to loosing my entire computer which simply refused to start about two weeks before our departure for home. Fortunately I was able to save all the data on my hard drive and thus am able to bring you this note, about one and a half months since I wrote you last. My apologies for the long delay and the long note.

It has been a very busy couple of months. On Feb. 4 we met Roger and Susan Bauman (friends from Hamilton) in Bangkok, and traveled with them to Mae Sot and Mae Hla refugee camp to visit a possible new project with K'Paw Shee and Lolo Taw. (See pictures showing a class room in the school located within the camp, and the principal K' Paw Shee and his wife Lolo Taw. Lolo Taw was a student of ours who graduated in 2010.)
Mission SchoolK'Paw Shee & Lolo Taw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then returned to Bangkok to attend a meeting with Douglas Walker. He is a grants advisor with the International Foundation, and he wished to see our "Thai staff". We brought Colleypaw, Hannah McClennen another friend from Hamiltion, and Sha Bwe Moo who works with us to help fund a group of schools in the Karen IDP area of Burma. He is also currently studying for an advanced degree in forestry. We were happy to join in a vigorous discussion about our goals and methods. That afternoon all of us except Sha Bwe Moo visited Myint Wei at DEARBurma. This is the large school for migrant workers in Bangkok that is held on Sunday there only day off. The school teaches Burmese, English, and computer use, and it also serves as a gathering place for migrant workers to meet one another and discuss issues of common concern.

The following day we went back to Mae Sot and met Dr. Cynthia and her teaching staff, and visited the school. (The first picture shows Cynthia between Liz and me, Hannah on the right and the school staff. The second was taken in a clssroom where I'm having a fun discussion in an English class with the students. Liz says the students are far and away the best advertisement for the school.)
Cynthia and StaffCynthia School

 

Finally near the end of our stay in Asia we travelled again with John Littleton to see first hand the conditions of the Rohingya people and the effects of the education program, which we support, run by Children on the Edge, a U.K. NGO. Unfortunately it was a very rushed trip. We were able to stay only two days in the country, but in that time we were able to visit both the program for refugees in the Kutapalong camp, and the program for working children in Cox's Bazar. I was also able to have a good talk with Tin Soe about the prospects for our helping one or two very worthy young adults with higher education.

The visit to the schools was a deeply emotional experience for Liz and I. I hope the pictures below will start to explain why. Work ResultMalnourished Boy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first shows the product of the labor of some of these children. Waste paper is bundled and sold for recycling. It might seem like a good idea, but it is not highly valued. Children earn about ten to twenty cents a day doing such work. And as you can see in the next picture they are not very well fed. Although I didn't try, I felt that my thumb and middle finger could touch while surrounding this fellow's upper arm.

Only the lucky ten percent get to go to school, the rest may look in as is shown in the picture below. John and I discussed the dilemma of providing a complete primary school --not that we provide a complete primary school--for some, at the cost of excluding many others from school entirely. How do you choose who can attend and who cannot? Occasionally midst all the smiles and excitment attending our visits, comes an unspoken but very direct appeal, "Why can't I go to school?", "Will you help me?". Liz and I have not yet learned how to ignore these appeals; they haunt us and drive us to continue.Kids Watching ClassHaunting Look

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are now home catching up on lost sleep, and enjoying chilly weather in Hamilton. Thank you for your patience reading this very long enote.

Best Wishes to all,

Tom