Rohingya mother and child
We are excited to share 2015 was yet another successful and rewarding year at FED as we provided over 400 Burmese migrant children in southern Thailand an opportunity to access their right to education through our two learning centers. Without these learning centers, our children would not have the opportunity to go to school and would more than likely fall victim to child labor in Thailand's fishing, rubber, and construction industries. Support from friends like you make this all possible. THANK YOU--Your contributions do make a difference!
Feature Story: Educating the region's most persecuted children
by Kieran and Hannah, FED Interns 2015
For decades Burmese military regimes and Buddhist extremists have systematically led an ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, a Muslim ethinic minority group from Rakhine state in western Burma. In recent years violent clashes have left thousands of Rohingya dead and tens of thousands more displaced into refugee camps. Unwanted and unrecognized as citizens in Burma, thousands of Rohingya have fled the violence in wooden and often unreliable ships arranged by corrupt brokers in hopes of finding new lives abroad in countries such as Malaysia. However, in many instances these boats are lost at sea or land in Thailand where the Rohingya are either sent back to Burma or held in detention centers where any hope of a new life and freedom is all but lost.
In mid-2015, a group of 51 Rohingya women and children arrived in the Khao Lak area of Southern Thailand after fleeing ethnic persecution in Burma. Separated from their husbands and fathers, who were sent to detention centres, they were placed in a shelter run by the Thai government. Since that time, FED has been working with the shelter to offer services for the women and children while they await resettlement.
Soon after their arrival in the shelter, FED arranged to enrol the Rohingya children at the Unified Learning Center, our elementary school for Burmese migrants. Many of the children had never attended school before and we were excited to offer them the opportunity, however a number of challenges became clear almost immediately. First of all, because of their lack of education, many of the Rohingya children were at an academic level far below other students of the same age. We were faced with the difficult decision of where to place the students; would it be better to have them in classrooms that matched their skills, or would the embarrassment of working with much younger students negatively affect their ability to learn? More importantly, except for English class all of the courses are taught in Burmese, which most of the children do not speak.
Since the students were most engaged in their English class, and since English skills are very valuable given their uncertain futures, FED has began teaching special classes to the Rohingya children in the afternoons. In doing so, the children can continue to integrate with the other Burmese students in the mornings and at lunch, while having the opportunity to learn English with their Rohingya peers in a more comfortable environment in the afternoon. We are excited to report that the children are incredibly eager students, and have made great progress since the special classes began in early June.
In addition to offering education, we have recently begun organizing fun social activities. To celebrate the end of Ramadan, we worked with the shelter to coordinate a number of activities for the women and children. Refreshments were brought on the day the fasting ended, and FED donated a new outfit to each child. This week, we took the children on a field trip to the local beach, where they spent the day swimming, playing games, and practicing English.
We hope to continue expanding our programming with the Rohingya, to make their time in Khao Lak a more positive experience, and to equip them with skills that will help them in the future. Our next project will be to offer courses for the women during the day, to teach them skills such as sewing and handicrafts. Our goal is to improve their experience in the shelter by engaging them in activities, and also to provide them with abilities that they may eventually use to generate income. As our ambition for the Rohingya project continues to grow, we urge our supporters to consider making a contribution to this worthy cause. An increase in funding will allow us to continue to provide vital services to the Rohingya in Thailand, and as you can see from the pictures, a little can go a long way.
Youth Unity Camp
A Student Camp was held on the 23rd and 24th of December at the Thai Navy Base in Thaplamu village. The purpose was to strengthen friendships and unity between Thai and Burmese students in the local area. Twenty students from 2 Thai schools, 30 students from FED Learning Centers and 12 teachers participated in peace building and integration activities as well as learned about the unique and diverse ecological environment of the beautiful Khao Lak area. Events like these are vital ways to bridge the gap between Thais and Burmese creating a more understanding and socially inclusive society for future generations.
A farewell note from Teacher Sophie
Here's to all the amazing people I have met during my time in Thailand. Thanks for making it so difficult to say goodbye. So lucky to have you all in my life. Going to miss all the amazing times I've had here. I've never been happier. I enjoyed every moment of teaching English at FED, the Rohingya shelter, and the Burmese community. Let's hope somebody learned a little more English while I was here. That's all that matters. Now onward to new adventures!
Thank you Sophie for all your hard work and dedication over the past year and a half! You have had a profound impact on countless lives. Your energy, dedication, and compassion for others will be greatly missed!
Looking for a new native English Teacher
With the departure of Teacher Sophie in January 2016, our English program is without a native English teacher. FED is in search of a new native English teacher to start in May/June of 2016 at the beginning of the new academic year at the ULC. The position is responsible for teaching grades 5-8 as well as the ability to support donor reporting and willingness to participate in numerous cultural extracurricular activities. If you or someone you know has a passion for teaching and are looking for an adventure of a lifetime, please let us know! Inquiries about the position can be made to FED Development Director, Mark, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Exciting Happenings Ahead in 2016!
As we usher in a new year, we at FED are hard at work developing new ways to provide opportunities for migrant children and youth to advance their education. FED's Education Program and Development Department are hard at work designing a Vocational Education program intended to offer migrant youth a chance to improve their English language, business, IT, and hospitality skills. The tourism industry of Southern Thailand is booming and by equipping our students with these skills we will prepare the next generation with the tools necessary to obtain better jobs which will empower them to help break the poverty cycle that has entrapped migrant families for decades. Stay tuned to find out more about the progress of this project and how you can help in future reports!
Migrant Student in the Classroom
A safe school equals happy children