Qnote 16
April 17, 2013

Dear Friends,

As I write you today, 16 years and 16 days after our founding on April Fool's Day 1997, I am prompted to think about the changes in our organization. It started that first year, with considerable help from co-founder John Novak, as a "mom and pop" organization which raised $53,270 for its first program of grants. BREF has now grown to raise over $250,000 a year; it has a nine member Board of Trustees, and a large group of co-workers from Asia as well as volunteers from America. Today I'd like to talk about those American volunteers (including one from Australia and Thailand) who travel each year to Thailand to interview, select, and mentor university students. We call them Trustee Representatives, or TReps.

The generousity of these people is remarkable. Each TRep pays for all their expenses including round-trip travel from the US, food, accommodations and transportation in Thailand, and in addition has donated generously to our work. Some have done this for eight years.

Meet Barbara:
Barbara Meet Alyson:
Alyson Alyson Illich first joined us in 2005 and traveled with us in the Kanchanaburi, Sangklaburi areas. She became very interested in our work and the following year brought her two friends Barbara Rydon, and Janice Santikarn to join her in the Mae Sot area. Alyson joined our Board of Trustees in October of 2009. She has taken a great interest in the work of BREF and is a very active Board member. She thinks a lot, not-only about her particular area of Mae Sot, but about the work of BREF in other countries, and her insightful comments make important contributions to our meetiings. We are deeply indebted to Alyson for her work leading the "Mae Sot" TReps, for her special insights.
Barbara, the second of the triumvirate of Alyson, Barbara and Janice, is from Melbourne, Australia. The three of them apparently met in Bangkok when each was having a child. They have been friends ever since, and use this volunteer time for us as a chance to get together and renew their friendship. Barbara has a sunny personality and is a great deal of fun to work with.
Meet Colleypaw:
ColleypawMeet Janice:
Janice, is also an Australian. She is married to a Thai and lives in Bangkok. Both she and her husband have achieved considerable merit as academics. Her husband Steve, spent time on the research staff at Harvard, and Janice did post-doctoral work under Melvin Calvin at the University of California. She also is a writer of children's stories. All three of these women, as indeed our other TReps, take a great interest in their students. They give advice, find ways to help, and nuture them through their university careers.
Colleypaw is the Karen refugee who traveled with us to India this year, and also accompanied us and Hannah on the project trip in Thailand. She lives in Chiang Mai and in the past has been helpful in giving us contact with some very good refugee students. We are still working out the details of her work for BREF.
Meet Hoppy and Judy:
Hoppy & JudyMeet Doug:
Doug You've surely seen the Winfields scattered throughout our enotes before. Hoppy and Judy started working with us in Chiang Mai about seven or eight years ago, and they have been to Thailand every year since. They are in charge of our students in Northwestern Thailand, covering a large area which includes Mae Sariang, Mae Hong Son, and Chiang Rai as well as Chiang Mai. They take communication with their students very seriously and insist those students remain in close contact with them. Hoppy joined our Board of Trustees in 2007, and is now in his second five year term. They live nearby so we have the pleasure of getting together throughout the year.
Doug is a Californian who has just completed his third year with us, and we are delighted with his care and concern for his students. Doug has good connections in Thailand including a fine Thai lady, Daruna who travels with him to help with translation. When Doug sees a problem he goes out of his way to fix it. His latest attemp at this is to return to Thailand this year to teach an English class in Sangklaburi. Doug has taken on the work formerly done by Judy Noyes, and Barbara and David Shirley.
Meet Our New Volunteers
Meet Hannah:
Hannah Meet Susan and Roger:
Roger and Susan Last February, as part of a vacation they were taking in Thailand, we brought Susan and Roger to visit refugee students in Mae Hla camp and elsewhere along the border. As we expected, they were impressed with the people they met and the work we do. It was not long before we began to talk about ways they might help us. Neither felt they could work effectively with university students as TReps, but they were interested in other aspects of what we do including office work, and exploring funding for new projects. As I write Susan and Roger are doing both of those things.
Hannah had talked with us before and traveled to Thailand to visit our projects with the intention of seeing what she might be able to do to help us. We took an ambitious trip crowding in almost all of our projects in one week. We met recently having recovered from that experience, and Hannah has agreed to take on oversight of several of the projects we saw.
How About You?
In closing this enote, I would like to invite you to consider your own interest in our work. Susan, Roger and Hannah have helped us broaden our own ideas of the ways you can help. Possibilities we currently have in mind include: The latter two require some visits to Asia. The former can be done solely in this country although at least one trip to Thailand to meet the people is highly recommended. Let us know what interests you. We look forward to your help.

Best Wishes to all,