The opening of the kitchen, dining hall and laundry area for the Safe House
The following speech was given by 5 SIAST students at the opening of the kitchen, dining hall and laundry area for the safe house at Mae Pa Farm.
Hello, Everyone. As some of you may know we are from Canada and here with the organization that wants to better the lives of the Burmese. The five of us have done many different kinds of fundraising to be able to provide you with this building and we are so happy to do so.
We heard about the project, the girls, and the situation they were in and we all felt we had to do something to help. For us there was no ignoring it.
After meeting you we saw how wonderful each of you are. We feel even more proud to be a part of this project and your lives. We are happy that we are able to give you girls a safe place to live, a place where there are no worries, where you there will always be someone there for you.
We will always be thinking of you, you all have a very special place in our hearts. We want all of you to know that each one of you is special and you are an important individual. We would love to see you complete school and reach your full potential; we know that you can achieve great things. Know that there is always going to be someone there for you!
We see how much you care for each other and hope that you care for yourself the same way. Your future is bright. Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you will land among the stars.
Thank you and God bless.
The students delivering the speech were: Jesse Mehler, Janessa Malinowski, Kaitlyn Juba, Michelle, Kornuta and Ben Colclough.
Kacey's second trip to Thailand
December 3, 2012.
I came to Thailand two years ago with Global Neighbors, and I have to admit that some of the stark contrasts between our life and those of the migrants and refugees had faded. Now t hat I am back here again my drive and determination to help these people has come back full force.
Today we visited New Light School. We spent the morning teaching the kids about snow. We showed the younger kids how to draw snowmen, and taught the older ones how to cut snowflakes from paper.
The kids so New Light School were all smiles today, and it makes my heart smile t o see that. I can see how much happier these kids are compared to two years ago. They were so eager to learn, and they even started improving and adding their own designs to the drawings. To see them talking to each other and helping each other was so great. We ARE making a difference. One person at a time.
Our Story. (November 2012 Work Tour)
Our story began in the early part of 2012 when we met Dave Heppner at the Compassion Resource Warehouse in Victoria whilst helping to load a 40 ft container to Thailand. We have been part of the "warehouse" for a couple of years helping to sort, bag, box and load medical/school supplies, clothes, tools, sewing machines, toys and everything in between that is useful to developing nations. Graham discussed with Dave about making two foot powered wood lathes as he is a wood turner and thought they would be useful to refugees as a possible way of earning a living. Dave thought this was a good idea and suggested we come to Thailand in November. We were at the Farm when the container arrived containing the two lathes. We spent our days unloading the container and distributing the goods amongst various schools, orphanages and refugee camps and medical clinics. Graham was able to demonstrate how to use the lathe to a school in Burma and the students were very interested. The lathe and tools were left at the school along with plans for making more in the future as required.
Our whole trip was full of different experiences and we were amazed at he amount of work that has been accomplished and the ongoing projects that Global Neighbors are involved with, they are making such a difference to many lives. It was a life changing experience for us.
Thank you to our fellow travellers, we so enjoyed your company and we had lots of fun. We really hope to return to Thailand and play a small part with Global Neighbors.
Gillian and Graham Cox
Tales of a Global Neighbor Traveller. (December 3,2012)
I was on the November 2012 trip with Global Neighbors and I first must apologize for not updating the web site with our many experiences. The only excuse I can give is that I was too "played out" in the evening to do anything!! We worked in +31° temp. with 75% humidity – I didn’t think there was a humidity that high!!
Regardless thank-you for caring about us and we’re back "safe and sound" in Canada.
This was my fourth trip to Thailand with Global Neighbors and I enjoyed the "experiences" this time as much as the first trip The Global Neighbors "farm" has expanded unbelievably since 2010. The teaching classrooms, dormitories and completion of the outdoor kitchen / dining room, which we were part of, left me in "awe".
Our time was busy because so many things were happening. A container of goods arrived the second day we were there and 20 some students and our team unloaded the container and stored everything on shelves in our warehouse – 18 bikes, 20 serving machines and two pianos!! We were blessed to have Graham & Jillian as team members as their group has assembled and packed the "C" container in Vancouver. Graham was the last to lock the doors in Vancouver and 1st to open them on the "Mae Sot Farm". Their stories of where the donated goods came from and how they packed the containers was a real bonus to the trip for me. Over the next week, we delivered a lot of these goods and I can tell you that every item out of that container was put to good use in migrant villages along the Burma border and inside Burma.
I had the opportunity to work on the dining hall helping to pour the floor (pail by pail) and later with installing the roof tiles. I also spent a morning picking cucumbers and the fields – I very much enjoyed the "sign" language rapport with my fellow pickers.
I marvel that Global Neighbors seems to be able to fit the mold "a hand up not a hand-out". They are providing much needed facilities infrastructure to facilitate further education for teachers but also the opportunity to promote peace among the ethnic groups coming out of Burma.
I would ask how the teacher students get to school, the instructor would say ‘just over that mountain" which usually means 10 days foot travelling through the jungle!!
If I tell you all my experiences, my letter will become a book, so I advise you to go see for yourself, go on a work tour, it’s a game changer!! Canadian neighbors in action, it’s a wonderful feeling.
Thanks to my fellow travelers, you were a super group of people to work with. Luc and Dave, you looked after us so well, huge thanks
As I sit in front of my lap-top today, I want to say "Thank You" first of all to Al for agreeing to give voice to my words.
Today is Transfiguration Sunday. You have listened to the story of The Transfiguration of Jesus as Mark described it to the early Christian community.
The elements contained within the Transfiguration story have always fascinated me, but today that story is even more poignant because I have stood at the base of the Refugee Camp at Mae-Lah - once the home of Henai-Thoo and Rosalie. I have looked up the hillside to house after house built upon the steep slope, and I have climbed at least half-way up to Henry’s School, perched on the slope of the hill that leads to Burma and what was once a safe home for the Karen Folk, now forced to live in exile, deprived of their farms and their livelihoods. The alternative to life in the Camp is death! There is no other choice.
Mark and the other Gospel writers tell us that when Jesus stood on the mountain surrounded by three disciples, he was "transfigured." That part of the story is familiar to all of us. We know, too, the reaction of the disciples . . . especially Peter . . . in response to that experience. They wanted to do something special – to "mark" the space; to capture this unique experience for all time.
Standing at the base of the refugee camp, I realized for the very first time that the Transfiguration experience is about more than Jesus being surrounded by light. If it were only that, then the story would be similar to – and just as fantastical - as the tale which J R R Tolkien describes in The Two Towers, where Gandalf the Grey is illuminated for his friends as Gandalf The White. It would be a wonderful story, in and of itself, but there it would end.
What makes The Transfiguration Story meaningful for us is that the disciples have a response to it! They have seen Jesus transfigured – seen Jesus in a light they have not seen before; and this experience has transformed THEM! How can one who is faithful not be changed by such a vision? The beauty of the story rests not so much in the mystery of the light that surrounds Jesus; it resides in the ways in which the disciples themselves change because of what they have seen!
Peter himself alludes to this in his first letter to the early Christian Community, when he writes, "We have seen for ourselves. We ourselves have experienced this." And Peter has come down to us in history his post-Easter work have been possible without the experience on the mountainside? Easter Sunday propels the disciples into the world to tell their stories; the Transfiguration gives them the shape and the scope that those stories will take, as well as the confidence – in time – to tell all the stories to others.
One of the experiences that has touched me most deeply here in Thailand when meeting refugees from Burma is their willingness to sing for us! I cannot help but think of the Psalm that talks about the rivers of Babylon where we sat down and wept. How can we sing to the Lord our songs in a strange land? The Karen folk have no difficulty singing to the Lord in a strange land – be it a small group of children; an entire school of children; several classes of children; or even a dozen men maimed by land-mimes . . . the songs ring out, and they are full of confidence and hope. A group of school children, gathering first thing in the morning, stood on a patch of bare soil in front of their classroom and sang to us, "We are the world. We are the children. We can make a brighter day, so let’s start living!" It is the first time I have heard this song in a context that moved me. These were not self-indulgent rock musicians singing out of their ego-centricity; these were children, recognizing that their world could be better, and that if it is to become better, then they, too, are part of the solution! How moving is that! And how in keeping with the experience of the disciples who see something new and recognize that they are part of the telling of the stories that would give shape to that illumination.
How can we sing songs in a foreign land? We sing because we must! Music is a primary force, and it is integral to the human experience. We sing because it gives us strength. With voices raised together, we are stronger than we would be as individuals. We sing also because it fills us with hope. To sing "We are the World!" is also to sing about our vision for the world and our dreams of a better place for you and for me. We sing, because it gives us power! Others can take away our homes, our freedom, our documents, our rights; but our singing remains ours alone, and so long as we can sing to our God, we have power to express our vision and our love! This is what the People of Israel discovered in ancient times; this is what the people of the Karen Community are expressing as they stand before us. It might be their gift to us, but it is just as surely their gift to themselves!
The other aspect of The Transfiguration Story is that Jesus invites witnesses to the mountainside to experience it. Not everyone; not all of the 12; but a select few. Over the past few months, I have wrestled with the question of whether I should be paying so much money to come to Mae Sot, Thailand, myself, or whether I should in fact just have written a cheque for the same amount, which would go to Global Neighbours to support the work that is going on here. Being here for the past week has reassured me that it is not only my money that is needed; what is also needed, and this might be even more significant, is our presence! The Karen communities in Thailand need us to see for ourselves what they are experiencing, so that we can go home and tell their stories to those around us. They also need us to be here as an affirmation that they have not been forgotten! The 15 members who form this trip’s Global Neighbours group represent the reassurance to the Karen villages that the world continues to care for them and with them. That is a gift beyond price, and that, too, is an example of Transfiguration – an illumination that shines a light on a situation and helps us look at it in different ways.
I have been moved to tears once during this trip. It happened when I listened to the men who have been blinded by land-mines and who have lost limbs … with the exception of one – a 13 year-old boy who is blind because of child-hood measles. I cried because these are victims of humankind’s brutality to one another, and it could be – no, SHOULD be - prevented. I cried because, unlike the children I have seen to date, I question my ability to have any hope for their future. I cried, also, because their singing was so powerful and so harmonic and so inspirational that it seemed – even for a moment – that nothing else mattered except the singing and the gift of the song. Whatever
Rev Tony Thompson (Traveller Feb 2012)
APPRECIATION OF DONATION (Dec 2012)
Dear Dave ,
Trip gives student new perspective on life
By Matthew Liebenberg
A recent trip to Thailand gave Kacey Palidwar a close-up view of the daily struggles of life in another country.
While born and raised in Nipawin, she is currently a student in the Architectural Technologies program at the SIAST Palliser campus in Moose Jaw. In December 2010 she participated in a two-week trip by 15 students to Thailand to help rebuild a school and teach computer skills at another school. They also delivered supplies to children at different schools and visited a refugee camp.
"I'd want to say it changed my life, but that is so cliched," she said. "It definitely opened my eyes to what I only thought existed in movies."
As a result of their busy schedule during the trip and everything she experienced, Palidwar said it took her a while to make sense of it all.
"It really took like a week after I got home to understand it all and put it all together," she mentioned. "I definitely have a different perspective on the world, how we live our lives over here and what other countries are going through and experiencing."
This was the second trip by SIAST students to the town of Mae Sot in western Thailand. Due to its location on the border with Myanmar (Burma), the town has a large population of Burmese migrants and refugees. The previous trip in December 2009 resulted in the creation of the group Global Students Helping Students, which is coordinated by SIAST Architectural Technologies Instructor Reg Forbes.
The intention is that students will undertake an annual trip to Thailand to use their skills to the benefit of others. The activities of Global Students Helping Students are carried out in close cooperation with Global Neighbors Canada Inc., an organization working with orphaned and displaced children in Mae Sot.
Prior to their trip, Palidwar and her fellow students raised $15,000 towards the reconstruction of Hlee Bee School, which accommodates about 200 children.
"The previous one was flooded out, it pretty much just fell right over because it was made of bamboo," she explained. "If we hadn't intervened they would have no school at this point."
The new building is a more sturdy concrete and steel structure. The construction work was already completed when they arrived, but the students assisted with the finishing touches. They painted the walls, built desks for the computer lab and set up the six computers they donated to the school.
"We got to meet all the kids and the teachers, it was a really good experience," she said.
The students used the additional money they raised before their trip to buy cameras for a school in the Mae La refugee camp. Each student also brought along a suitcase full of items such as food, clothing, soap, towels and sheets for distribution.
"At most of these schools the kids were orphans, so they don't have a whole lot," she said.
They did distributions at Shwe Tha Zin Learning Centre, Ah Yone Oo School, Sky Blue School and New Light School, which was the school built by the previous student group in 2009. They also visited Wide Horizons, a post secondary school, and Agape Orphanage and Learning Centre, which is very close to the Burma-Thailand border.
At Hsa Thoo Lei School and Orphanage the students taught their technical programs in two sessions to the Grade 11 and 12 learners. They showed them how to draw a basic floor plan in AutoCAD, how to import it into Google Sketch Up and how to create a 3-D rendering from that. The local students also learned how to use some aesthetic techniques in Photoshop.
Despite knowing a fair amount of English, Palidwar said it was still a challenge to communicate with these students.
"It did not hinder their excitement to learn," she noted. "The best part of this experience was when the kids yelled out 'Teacher, teacher! Will you help?' We got a lot of satisfaction out of teaching these kids some technical skills that will put them ahead in the work force."
At the Mae La refugee camp they visited Henry's School and Arthur's Orphanage. According to Palidwar there are about 45,000 registered Burmese refugees in the camp, but a similar number that is not registered.
"It was supposed to be a temporary camp, but now it has been there for over 20 years," she said. "There's a lot of people in a small space and only so many are registered, so a lot of them are considered ghost citizens."
Witnessing people's struggle to survive has changed her views about her own lifestyle and life in Canada in general.
"I found it hard to enjoy the things I normally enjoy and to just get back into my life from beforehand," she said. "We just have it so good in Canada that you never think that there's anything worse out there. … We're very, very lucky to live in the free country that we have."
A Few Reflections (SIAST Team, December 2010)
From small towns to large cities through out Western Canada, we are Global Students Helping Students. (December 17, 2010)
To Architectural Technology students and to the students at New Light Learning Center age, religion, culture or the language barrier doesn't stop us from learning. Doesn't stop us from Hearing their stories, their needs and
It made us all proud to drive by the old school that was in a store
The children's faces were no longer dull as we handed out clothes,
We are giving the chance for each student their to be a child, to be
VisitIng New Light Learning Center was a reminder to myself and to the
Bradley K. Swayze
As a child, I never really gave thought as to why someone would want to be a teacher, today I realized how much satisfaction one can get by doing so.
Today was a great day and one that everyone should experience. We started out by going to the Global Neighbors farm and touring their land. Then we sorted simple things that we take for granted every day into piles to give away at a school in the afternoon. Little things like soap, shampoo, conditioner, towels, utensils, and others were packed into bags for distribution. It’s amazing how they seem like every day normal things for us, but is longed for here. After we finished packing, we went for lunch. After lunch we went back to the farm and I was able to help the farmers harvest their rice while others in my group were sorting clothes for later distribution. After we finished at the farm, we drove out to Ah Yone Oo School. I was fortunate enough to be able to give the students their bags and direct them to my colleagues for them to receive blankets. We had about 95 bags of supplies in total. It was such an amazing feeling and you could tell how grateful some of the parents were. When we gave the students their bags, they were so thankful and excited to see what was inside. It’s a completely indescribable feeling that I had knowing that the littlest things were helping these people so much. Even though there is a language barrier, I felt like we understood each other. A few knew English which was very nice and some even thanked us in English which was a shock to me at first. It is a very pleasing moment that the kids are able to communicate with us. Their teacher is doing very well with teaching them English. Overall, the feeling I got at that school was just that my heart went out to them. It was very rewarding giving the kids and families their bag of supplies and I think everyone should be able to experience this type of situation at least once.