Made our first trip into refugee camp yesterday. Very difficult to get access now that Thai military are running country. Not allowed to take photos of the camp, just people we met. Over 40,000 people live in this camp. Very crowded and depressing. Camp has been here 20 yrs. so many people have never known freedom. However, there are some wonderful pockets of hope in this camp. Baptist Post Secondary School with over 500 bright students who are learning English and skills that will help the people when they leave camp. Some are immigrating and send back money or sponsor their families.
Large Baptist church in refugee camp with over 200 students living in dorms. Met pastor who also plays a mean base guitar. The church was given instruments, including 25 violins, 1 yr ago. Unbelievable to hear how well they play and sing. Music is therapy here and helps people deal with the traumas they’ve endured. There is singing everywhere we go – and they are all pitch perfect!!
The “at risk”girls living at Global Neighbours “farm” where wonderful facilities have been built for them and their Phillipino House Mothers. These girls were rescued before they were likely to be sold to the sex trade. There are 26 of them.
They are thriving and getting an education. There is hope!
We’ve been to Burma twice more. Yesterday, to a remote village to visit a school and bring much needed supplies. We drove in by truck (standing in the box for about 45 min.) then crossed a river/border and were taken in on motorbike. Great fun. Really saw things up close and personal. Today, we went to an orphanage to have a birthday party for them. The staff had prepared a wonderful meal for us. Earlier, we painted 2 classrooms in a school. What a difference a little paint makes. From drab, dreary and dirty to bright and sunny. Wow. The children stood at the door and windows gazing in at the transformation and sang us songs, some in English. Priceless! Tomorrow we’ll be going into a large refugee camp for the time. Apparently, we’re one of the few to be granted permission to go in since the military took over governing the country. Looking forward to the experience.
The whole experience with Global Neighbors was amazing for me, Luc. One of the best weeks of my life. The people in our group were all the kind of people I would choose as friends: dedicated, selfless, generous, considerate. The connections that Global Neighbors have made in Mae Sot are impressive. I really like the approach that Global Neighbors has of working with the people and groups already in place and providing support. So important for the people to take ownership and have a stake in whatever project. Also, Global Neighbors insistence that projects be sustainable is so important. I will be telling Global Neighbor’s story when I get back to Regina with the hope other people may decide to make the journey.