The transition to new leadership for BREF has been proceeding smoothly, if somewhat irregularly. Case in point, I'm still writing this enote and Liz is still involved in banking, money transfer and TRep issues. However Russ Brackett, and Mark Sommer have completed a trip to Thailand, and Dianne Becker is still on her trip to India, all of these visits are to review and monitor our work going on there.Some information from Russ and Mark about their recent trip to Thailand which I'd like to share with you.
This left most picture below is of Myint Wei, the director of DEARBurma. You may recall that he runs a school for Burmese immigrants in Bangkok. There he teaches about 1000 young adults who work as servants, janitors, in gas stations, and other entry level jobs. Russ describes him with these words, "ambitious, creative, exuberant, an enthusiastic operator."We started the day bright and early (6am) at Dave’s. Dave is a Canadian who runs a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that specializes in breakfast, with English, American/Canadian, and Thai offerings. Great coffee, grown by local hill tribesmen.He also has two flat screen TV’s, tuned to the Super Bowl this morning. We got there early to claim front row seats. The place was packed, mostly with American medic volunteers, here for a training course in “community medicine”. The only other Patriots fans in the place were, coincidentally or maybe not, a couple sitting at our table. The Patriots are hated even in Thailand. Anyway, as suspenseful as the game was, the bigger issue for us was whether we could push our plans for the day an hour later so we could see the end of the game. Shortly after halftime, we got word we were good until 10am. The game-ending interception was at 9:59. We lingered to make sure the Gronk wasn’t whistled for a personal foul as the Patriots were trying to run out the clock, and then left to a jeering crowd. Our driver made up time, driving his pickup like he was in a video game down a two–way highway, so we managed to see the game and meet all our other obligations. [I hope this picture shows enough for you to believe that yes indeed you can watch the superbowl in a small restaurant in Mae Sot.]
Mark and Russ then proceeded to visit Mae Hla Refugee camp and Hsa Say Polo's Mae Ramat Blessing House. I have a picture of them with Hsa Say Polo and her husband at the boarding house. Russ tells me that he had just finished a ferocious game of marbles, apparently with the boys at the boarding house, where he lost all of his marbles. (I hope he means that just literally.) As I write Dianne, the Chair of our Board of Trustees, is in India meeting with our project directors and students. She travelled with a friend to Aizawl, and were met at the airport by Pianga, whom Dianne had met on a previous trip, and Kimi, who has been helping us for the last several years. I must say that it feels a little strange, not making the annual trip to Asia which we had done for the last 22 years. The long cold winter has once again impressed itself upon us. But we are cheered by the fond memories of our past trips and by the new vigorous activity of our younger leaders.