Burmese Community Celebrates the Opening of The United Learning Center in Khao Lak
Phang Nga Province, May 9, 2012: Over 350 people gathered today in Khao Lak to celebrate the opening of the United Learning Center - a center dedicated to educating the children of Burmese migrant workers here in Thailand. The school will serve the needs of over 300 children ages 3-17 with the goal of integrating them into the Thai community.
The United Learning Center is the vision of Mr. Htoo Chit, Executive Director of The Foundation for Education and Development (FED), a non profit organization created to serve the needs of the Burmese migrant community in the south of Thailand. In his speech to the assembled crowd of parents, students, donors, administrators and Thai community leaders, Mr. Htoo Chit thanked all those who had graciously given their time and resources to making the opening a success. “This is a proud day for the Burmese community, we are thankful to all of our donors, volunteers and community leaders. Our children now have teachers, classrooms, health care facilities, and playgrounds to help them grow and flourish.”
The ceremony featured prayer services and a blessing from the Khuk Khak Monastery monks, and student performances of traditional Burmese, Thai and Moken community dances. The building donor, Mr. Umeno, owner of a Japanese restaurant group Umenohana , addressed the children and urged them to ‘enjoy the school and work hard.” Mr. & Mrs. Umeno gave each child a box filled with new pencils to assist in their upcoming studies. Other majors donors include, the Annika Linden Foundation, Child’s Dream Foundation, Khao Lac Community Appeal, and Act Now Children’s Fund.
After speeches by Mr. Chit and the donors; the FED Board President, Ajan Kraisak Choonhavan, assembled the children on the stage to say thank you to the crowd in the three languages that they will study at the school, English, Thai and Burmese. Then in a typical and altogether appropriate fashion, the children dashed off to try out their new playground… a new school was officially opened.
For pictures of the event visit our facebook page by clicking here (Photos by Emmanuel Randon)
The Foundation for Education and Development (FED) is pleased to announce the opening of our Unified Learning Center on May 9th, 2012 in Khao Lak, Phang Nga Province. The school will provide education and basic health care services for the children and youth of the Burmese community located in Phang Nga Province. According to Htoo Chit, Executive Director of FED, “Our school offers the children of Burmese migrant workers the opportunities to learn to read and write, to learn the Thai and English languages and ultimately assists them in their integration into Thai schools and society. As well, the school will house a health care clinic offering basic health care and child services - all of these services would not be available to them otherwise. With the opening of this school, we are giving the Burmese youth a fighting chance to succeed and thrive in the Thai community.” Mr. Htoo Chit, who arrived directly after the 2004 Tsunami, has worked tirelessly since that time to provide the basic needs to the Burmese migrant community. He has been recognized for his work and has been awarded the ASHOKA Fellowship. FED was recently recognized by the French Ambassador to Thailand with the French Republic’s Human Rights Prize, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”. At a ceremony recognizing FED’s efforts, the French Ambassador to Thailand called FED, “one of the most outstanding NGO’s in the world.”
States Mr. Chit, “ Burmese migrant workers in Thailand face many challenges. This facility allows these workers to enroll their children in a school that will nurture and educate, thereby allowing them to focus on their work and their ability to provide a livelihood for their families. These are basic rights many of us take for granted.”
“We also want to thank all of our donors who understand the needs of the Burmese migrant population. Without their contributions this school and health clinic would not be possible,” says Sandra Arboleda, Director of Development. “ In particular we want to thank Umenohana, The Annika Linden Foundation, The Khao Lak Community Appeal, Act Now Children’s Fund, Child’s Dream, The Japanese Embassy to Thailand, the Japanese Volunteer Center and our globalgiving supporters.”
FED was founded in 2000 under the name of Grassroots Human Rights Education & Development (GHRE).FED along with providing education and health care services for the Burmese community, also provides woman’s empowerment activities, promotes job opportunities and fostering of safe working conditions for Burmese workers, provides legal assistance to their constituents, attempts to raise awareness of human rights violations and migrant worker issues against the Burmese community and looks to build bridges between the Thai and Burmese communities.
FED’s drive for providing an education to Burmese migrants is so that education can be used as a tool to break the cycle of poverty that afflicts these children and their parents. Most of the families of migrant children have themselves received little or no education and as such it is extremely difficult for them to find any work other than low paid, unskilled labor jobs. The jobs that migrants tend to do in Thailand are referred to as the 3 D’s; Dirty, dangerous and difficult. These worksites usually include rubber plantations, construction sites, fisheries and sawmills. Providing a learning space for the children not only improves their future prospects but it also keeps them safe from harm by removing them from dangerous worksite environments. This also offers peace of mind to busy working parents.
Without education this cycle of poverty will continue. Providing Burmese migrant children with an education also means that the time at which they enter the labor force is delayed, and when they do begin to work, we hope that a good education will provide them with the skills to demand better job opportunities and a decent living wage.
A word of thanks is in order to you, our globalgiving supporters for your benevolence towards Burmese migrant children and your generous support of FED’s efforts. FED is confident that a continuing partnership will result in brighter outcomes for the Burmese migrant children of Phang Nga Province. Attached you will find a complete report of our educational activities from September to December 2011.
Once again, on Behalf of our Board of Directors, staff and Burmese community we thank ALL of you for your support.
On behalf of FED and the local Burmese migrant community, we would like to extend our sincerest gratitude and appreciation to those who have generously contributed to the GlobalGiving project aimed at providing education for Burmese children. Burmese migrants in the Phang-Nga province move frequently as a necessity of the labor they do and as a result their children have trouble gaining a consistent education. This lack of cohesion leads to a disruption in their studies and many of the students have trouble with self discipline when they are constantly moving to a new school. By providing learning centers at many of the migrant working communities in the area FED has established a safe environment where students can learn from a standard curriculum, regardless of which learning center they attend. Additionally, next year a unified learning center will open, combining many of the learning centers and providing students with an even more cohesive and supported education.
On behalf of FED and the local Burmese migrant community, we would like to extend our sincerest gratitude and appreciation to those who have generously contributed to the Global Giving project aimed at providing education for 265 Burmese children. While donations can still be made in support of this project, all donations made only on June 15th, 2011, will now be matched at thirty-percent. We, as well as the Burmese children recipients of these fundamental gifts, are immensely thankful for the responses, the support, and the time you have given in pursuit of this cause. While education, especially for youth, is of the utmost importance and beyond the confines of a price or monetary value, these are projects that FED will continue to provide thanks to the community of support we are fortunate enough to have made with you. As we maintain communication with our valued supporters, please do continue to look out for ways you can support the Burmese migrant community through the work that FED is doing and through our future Global Giving campaigns. Thank you again for your support and compassion.
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