Help Nurture and Educate Young Refugees.
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Like many Thai towns along the Thailand-Burma border, Mae Sot is a sanctuary for Burmese refugees in their flight from the upheaval of civil war in their own country. Tens of thousands of Karen and other Burmese minorities subsist on the fringes of the Thai economy and await a brighter future. For 20 years, the Mae Tao Clinic has provided life-saving care to Burma's displaced population, especially its children.
There are 286,000 Burmese migrants living in the Tak province, and the overwhelming majority are under the age of 19. Parents often send their children to Thailand in effort to further their education and avoid the risks of unsafe child labor. Boarding houses give these children a stable environment in which to continue their education, either in Thai schools or migrant learning centers. However, there is not enough consistent donor support for the growing number of boarding houses, apart from Mae Tao Clinic's Dry Food Programme (DFP), which provides the children with dry food rations, and hygiene and bedding supplies.
The DFP provides the primary nourishment for 3,000 migrant students via rice, tin fish, oil, yellow beans, salt, and sweet powder. Without these essential food donations, many boarding houses would be unable to provide for the children.
You can help this essential, shoe-string budget program continue to nurture these vulnerable children. Just $10 provides food for a student for a whole month.
Report from the Field
YOUR donations have helped provide monthly dry food rations and hygiene packs to students living in boarding houses along the Thailand-Burma border. Your support has helped these children get out of areas of ongoing unrest and into safe and secure boarding houses, where they also get access to quality education. Your donations have helped young adults like Eh Shee and K, both of whom will be graduating in the next year!
Eh Shee (pictured above) grew up in a remote area with no school and little opportunities. When she was only 6 months old, her father passed away on the battlefield. In 2012, she, along with her mother and sister, moved to Thailand so her mother could find a job and send Eh Shee to school. Her mother is now a farmer and her sister teaches English and Karen (a local language).
K (pictured above) has been in the boarding house since 2010. Her mother sent her there to get an education, as there were no schools in the remote village she was born in. K rarely has contact with her mother, since her home village is still underdeveloped with little technology. She feels so lucky to be able to live in the boarding house and get an education. ”I feel very secure and am warm-hearted to live with many friends in the boarding house, who are like my sisters, and boarding house staff are like my parents,” she says.
Thanks to donors like you, 1800 children from 23 Boarding Houses accessed basic dry foods in 2016. Access to food not only keeps them healthy, but it also boosts their education, allowing the children to give their full attention and energy to studying. Being in these boarding schools gives hope to children who might not have any other options. Children like Hsar Ni K’Mwee Htoo are benefiting from these funds.
Hsar is a 16-year-old girl living in the Hsa Thoo Lei boarding house who has been there since she was a child. Her mother was raped and became pregnant with Hsar, but when Hsar was born, there was no one willing to take care of her and her relatives could not afford it. As she gets older, her relatives want her to come back to work for them. The Hsa Thoo Lei school will not let her relatives take her back because she is only 16, not 18, and more importantly they want her to focus on her education. Hsar says she likes living in the Boarding House because she makes friends and has access to education. She likes to play football and volleyball, read, and play piano in her free time. Her favorite subjects are English and Burmese. Hsar would like to be a doctor when she is older so she can help poor people who cannot access health care services.
Mae Tao Clinic, founded by Dr. Cynthia Maung in 1988 to serve the flood of displaced Burmese people surging across the border into Thailand, has served tens of thousands of Burmese refugees living in the border region of Mae Sot, Thailand. In November 2007, the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy named Dr. Cynthia Maung as the winner of the 2007 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award.
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