The Burmese school in Lang Suan, Thailand, is a beautiful example of what one concerned human being can accomplish upon seeing a need in his community and addressing it. Colin probably wouldn’t tell you any of this unless pressed to do so, but I am not operating under any such constraints.
Out of his own pocket, he rented a small one-room concrete building in a none-too-great part of town, hired a couple of Burmese teachers, and put out the word in the Burmese community that a school was now available for their kids. Because some or most of them are there illegally or quasi-legally, the kids were not eligible to enroll in Thai schools, and even if they had been able to, they’d have been woefully out of synch by virtue of speaking little or no Thai. Now, though, they have the opportunity for an education in their home language, even though they are living far away from home. Colin pays for the rent, the utilities, the teachers’ salaries, the incidentals.
Last month, the school became the first Burmese-language school outside Burma to secure accreditation from the Burmese government, meaning that kids who finish, say, 4th grade in this school are eligible to pass into 5th grade in Burma when they return home. This is huge, and completely unprecedented.
I have to say, this is the sort of ground-zero effort that really resonates with me, much more than dashing off a check to the United Way.
The problem, and it is a problem shared with many such schools, is that the shoestring budget does not allow a lot of extras. The kids go through supplies (crayons, pens, pads, etc.) like the proverbial hot knife through butter. A larger screen TV would be wonderful, so that thirty-some students wouldn’t be huddled around a laptop screen to learn lessons or watch a recess-time DVD. A nutritious school lunch program would be a godsend. If the spirit moves you and you would like to help out in some form or fashion, email me, and I will put you in touch with the principals. You will be supporting an exceptionally worthy cause, and a bunch of sweet and deserving kids will thank you profusely from afar.