October 15th 2018
Emmanuel School is a small Anglican primary school in Mae La refugee camp. The camp, which has a population of 35,401 (August 2018 figure) is the largest of nine camps strung along the Thai-Burma border, which between them have a total population of 97,202 (August 2018 figure The Border Consortium). Mae La camp is about 40 km from the town of Mae Sot, a Thai town with an airport.
The school is nominally Anglican, but is open to children of all religions and includes Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and Animists. There are currently 157 students, 81 boys and 76 girls, and 9 teachers. H4FA sends four quarterly payments to pay teachers, buy school equipment and stationary, make repairs and pay for any other necessities for the running of the school. The school is run by Emmanuel Church, the school committee, the teachers and parents and they send us full reports each quarter. We endeavour to visit at least once a year.
The school was founded in 2002 when it became crucial to integrating new, often traumatised, arrivals from the war zones on the other side of the border. For some of these “internally displaced persons”, this was their first experience of formal education, something prized by the Karen. It grew from a Sunday school attached to Emmanuel Church, into a primary school to accommodate the overflow from existing camp schools of these newly arrived children. This was at a time of an escalation of the civil war within Karen State.
Since January 2012 peace negotiations with the Burma Army have been ongoing. With the NLD’s landslide victory of 2015 in Myanmar and the “peace process” there were hopes that the camps would be disbanded and the people able to go home. Recent political developments, a strong Burma Army presence in Karen State near the border and sporadic breakdown of the ceasefire now make this less likely.
You can view the latest report from the Head Teacher, Gloria, by following this link: Emmanuel School Report 2018
This year as well as Emmanuel School continuing to grow and flourish there have been two new exciting developments:
Four outstanding students from Emmanuel School are currently being sponsored by PSRB/H4FA donors to continue their education at Noh Boh Academy a little further north on the Thai Burma border.
This Academy is supported by Christchurch Anglican Church in Bangkok and provides for students in their late teens. It has the great element of being situated outside of the refugee camp. Students are drawn from Thailand, the camps, the Karen and Burmese migrant population and directly from Karen State across the border. It provides education to a higher level than is possible in the camps.
Three out of the four sponsors have generously provided for the education of these students in memory of someone they loved and admired and all four have guaranteed that the support will continue during the full term of the students years at Noh Boh. A year’s education currently costs £300. The names of the sponsors and of the students are withheld for confidentiality but we are pleased and proud to announce the names of those whose memory is being honoured in this way.
Our first sponsor reacted to a trip report in which we wrote about an Emmanuel School girl student who had come top out of all the primary schools in the camp, her education at Noh Boh is to quote her sponsor “ in memory of Major John Winstanley who received a MC while with the Royal West Kents on the infamous tennis court at Kohima. He later became an eminent ophthalmic surgeon. He regarded the Karen people very highly”. Descriptions of that battle in The Road of Bones by Fergal Keane, and the extraordinary courage of the medical officers show them to have been taken beyond any test of human courage that could have been imagined. We are very honoured to have a student sponsored in Major John Winstanley’s memory.
A teenaged boy is sponsored in memory of William Raleigh Head, also a British officer who served in Burma, and another in memory of Rev. Peter Tubbs of Sandy. The fourth student’s sponsorship is simply a very generous act by one of our donors, giving this girl student also a wonderful chance despite the obvious setbacks of being brought up in a refugee camp.
We are grateful for the generosity of these donors and know that the students are doing their best to take full advantage of their great opportunity.
2 School dinners for the children each week for two years:
The Tadworth and Walton Overseas Aid Trust http://twoat.org/ has very kindly provided Emmanuel School with enough money for them to buy initially the necessary kitchen equipment, and then week by week the food, to cook and serve up a nourishing and healthy lunch for the children twice a week.
This comes at a time when the Border Consortium https://www.theborderconsortium.org due to donor fatigue has had to cut rations in the camp to a minimum. The camps have existed since the 1980’s and with hopes that Myanmar was beginning to be more democratic and peaceful, donors began to give less to the Consortium leading to a cutting back of rations. Although the latest political developments have been negative, donors have not yet increased giving and the camps inmates live on very little. This makes it particularly welcome that TWOAT has been able to make this very generous gesture towards the primary school children at Emmanuel this year and next year. It will make a very considerable difference to their health and happiness and to the general atmosphere at the school. Children can concentrate better when they are not hungry. Thank you TWOAT.
The headmistress of Emmanuel School sent this message “The Emmanuel primary school committee, the parents and the children are deeply thankful and appreciative of H4fA’s contribution and financial support for Emmanuel primary school teacher subsidies, education learning aids, food, art materials, game and sport equipment, student & teachers motivation gifts for the 2018-2019 academic year.
May God bless all the H4FA staff members and all the donors who help and support the Emmanuel primary school, our new generation to receive the best education.“
You can view the latest report from the Head Teacher, Gloria, by following this link: Emmanuel School Report 2018 and see the school’s message to us further down.