When the students at Arthur’s orphanage sang Silver Bells, I couldn’t help but tear up. Just a few minutes before, as we were enjoying refreshments after the climb up the hills of the village, Dave asked the founder of the orphanage if there was anything they needed, any way we could help. Her response was that God would provide the daily bread, they were happy just to have enough food to survive. They have such a concept of faith in God that is hard for me to understand, and so as I was sitting in their church listening to all the children sing about the shoppers rushing around with their treasures and silver bells, I couldn’t believe they could sing about such things with so much gusto knowing that, shopping (something we consider a chore in the holiday season) is something they won’t be doing this Christmas or possibly in their lifetime. After the singing was over, the girls put their make up on us, something called Tanaka. In her nearly perfect English Buwah said ,Please don’t forget us. Please write when you have free time. We pray for you and we pray you come back to visit us. She didn’t even have to ask, I could never forget them, even if I tried. We went there to help them, and somehow they are the ones praying for us. I can’t imagine a more wonderful, grateful people.
This experience here in Mae Sot and surrounding area has been one that has opened my eyes and changed my outlook on life. We have visited several sites including schools, orphanages, and refugee camps. All have one thing in common. Every face you see has a big smile. These people have been through so much, things that we from Saskatchewan have only heard of from news stories and novels. Some children from the Hsa Thoo Lei School shared their stories with us about where they came from. These stories were heart wrenching and almost unbelievable, children of 13 or so told their stories about running from Burma soldiers, being captured, escaping, and some told of famine, poverty and death. To me these kids are heroes and people to look up to, and this is something I would do again in a heartbeat. Their whole outlook on life and positive attitude is so inspiring and will be something I will take with me back to Saskatchewan and carry with me all my life.
Being part of the team that helped Greg teach the students AutoCAD was one of the greatest experiences for me. These students knew basic computer skills but were willing to tackle a complex program that us as Architect Technologies students struggled learning when we first started school. Each student attending our class was very willing to learn and worked hard at learning some basic skills. They wanted to know more and how they could learn the tricks for AutoCAD. I spent two full days in the class room and became good friends with one of the students name Tha Thaw. He was a student that didn’t seem to give himself enough credit for his hard work and talents such has singing and playing guitar. After one class, we were talking and he said to me that we are like brothers. Those few words meant so much to me, especially considering lots of these students don’t have families. Those words show what kind, caring, and accepting people they are. I feel blessed to have been able to teach a skill that might open a door for them in the future. I worry for their futures because of their past and also because I have seen incredible potential and I hope it can be fully reached. They are so deserving.
The construction of New Light School appeared to be the same as the construction of any other school until we visited the current classroom. Tucked away amongst the busy streets of Mae Sot was a small school full of children that can bring tears to your eyes with a simple bow of their heads or crossing their arms in respect. With the rush of the streets outside and multiple subjects being taught in each room they still had such focus and attention, eager to attain as much knowledge as they were given. Besides being forced to learn with minimal books or resources, they also deal with the issue of going to school hungry. Many children come to school with no food and taking only what is shared between the other students that are fortunate enough to have a lunch to pack. After seeing their current conditions, the construction of New Light School took on a new meaning. It is not just building class rooms, it is building futures. The children of New Light School, never ungrateful, never unkind, forever in my heart.