Provide Education for 470 Burmese Migrant Children

by Foundation for Education and Development (GHRE)
Vetted
Our grateful and motivated children.
Our grateful and motivated children.

It has been an eventful couple of months with plenty of activities, development, and heartwarming events. At the same time we currently experience a country in grief over the dead of the Thai King Bhumibol. In this report we pay our respect to the king, and we would like to show you our project highlights. We also would like to invite you to visit our renewed website where you can now stay connected with daily updates: www.ghre.org

 

Firstly we pay our respect to the beloved King Bhumibol

When Thailand's prime minister abruptly flew back to Bangkok to meet the crown prince as concerns grew over the health of the king, the whole country stood still. An earlier official statement was released that described King Bhumibol's health as "unstable". Later that day Thailand was hit by a shockwave of grief. Now after a month, the country is still consumed in grief for their beloved King, and a new King is not yet in place. While the exact timeline is uncertain, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn is the undisputed heir, and he will eventually become King. Meanwhile the country, including us, have been wearing black/dark clothes for over a month now to pay respect to King Bhumibol.

 

Young Empowered Professionals - Vocational Training

We have continued offering the specialized vocational classes for our new Young Empowered Professionals (YEP) program. We developed this program in the hopes of creating new opportunities to our students. YEP is established as a link from our school to a more specialized education in Hospitality; including IT, Thai, Advanced English, and general Business skills. As a future extension to YEP, we are in the process of developing a Social Enterprise Endeavor with Umenohana as the primary partner. The main objective of SEE is to open a restaurant/café that assists, trains, employs and prepares students of our school for the working world. Currently there are four motivated students attending the first classes of Advanced English in Hospitality and Restaurant operations. These students have been rapidly progressing in the breadth of their English vocabulary, their comfort conversing in English, their customer service skills, and their understanding of restaurant operations. They have also taken active initiative in the SEE, and are collaborating with FED staff and volunteers in determining its branding and product selection.

 

Legal Empowerment Training

On September 10th and 11th, in collaboration with the Solidarity Center, FED organized a two-day Legal Empowerment Training for Migrant Workers in Phang Nga at our Unified Learning Center to raise awareness among the migrant workers about their rights, and the legal services that are available to them and their families.

 

The Children on the Move Program

The Children on the Move Program provided photo and video editing training for its students on September 24th and 25th. The training was attended by 17 students from the Unified Learning Center. Through this training, the students gained hands on experience in photo and video editing. The folling month, the Children on the Move Program provided theatre training for its students. Through both of these trainings, the students had lots of fun and got to exhibite their creative talents.

 

Heart Warming Student Donation

Through our Student Bank Project, that teaches students how to save and manage money, a student saved up 900 baht in one and a half years.Her parents decided to move back to Burma, and she insisted to show her gratitude to our school just before she left.She decided to donate 300 baht from her savings to the school. We were very touched by her motivation and kindness.


Amazing Volunteers

We were lucky to have some great volunteers the last couple of months, including a group of students from ISAK (International School of Asia, Karuizawa) - Japan. We are always pleased to hear that volunteers are willing to commit their time and effort to support our teachers and office staff with new ideas and a strong helping hand. Especially our students, who love to have volunteers around to teach them English, creative arts, learn new games and hang around with in the library singing English songs and reading English books. In return, our volunteers have a first-hand Burmese experience and learn so much about their culture, being a migrant in Thailand and their challenges in life. When their stay comes to an end, which always comes too early, they become much-needed international ambassadors to our organization.

 

Thank you for reading our report. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to our project. Without your help we wouldn't be able to do this great work. We thank you for believing in our cause. We will do the best we can to keep you involved in our work. Please have a look at our renewed website, where you can also subscribe to our monthly newsletter. We are dedicating volunteers and in-house IT skills to develop a great transparent website, so you're able to stay tuned! Love and peace.

Who isn
Who isn't nervous for upcoming exams?!
Lunch time - thanks to our donors.
Lunch time - thanks to our donors.
You will be missed - our beloved King.
You will be missed - our beloved King.
Our upcoming Young Empowered Professionals
Our upcoming Young Empowered Professionals
ISAK Volunteers teaching English class
ISAK Volunteers teaching English class

Links:

Student is excited about the renewed library
Student is excited about the renewed library

It has been an interesting couple of months with loads of activities and development. In this report, we would like to highlight a few of them and we want to invite you to pay a visit to our renewed website where you can now stay up to date with our daily activities: www.ghre.org

Young Empowered Professionals - Vocational Training
We began the first of many specialized vocational classes for our new Young Empowered Professionals (YEP) program. We developed this new program in the hopes of creating new opportunities to our students. YEP is established as a link from our school to a more specialized education in Hospitality; including IT, Thai, Advanced English, and general Business skills. As a future extension to YEP, we have also started to develop a Social Enterprise Endeavor with Umenohana as the primary partner. The main objective of SEE is to open a restaurant/café that assists, trains, employs and prepares students of our school for the working world. Currently there are six motivated students attending the first classes of Advanced English in Hospitality.

Anti-Drug Campaign
Our students collaborated and participated with the Khuk Khak Thai Highschool in an Anti-Drug campaign. With a 1000 people strong, we walked the streets for an hour, waving the ASEAN flags, to advocate and raise awareness among the local Thai and Burmese community in order to fight the distribution and use of illegal drugs, which is a growing problem in both Thailand and Myanmar.

Renewed Library
We've been trying to organize and make our library more accessible and inviting to our students. The library was once a room that was little used. We invested in bookcases, tables and chairs, and made the area more spacious to read, study or just to relax and take a break. We've been successful in our efforts and students now love to come here every day to grab their favorite books, play games and sing songs. It's now also a place where volunteers enjoy to sit and mix their working time connecting with the students.

Fire Fighting Drill
The Takuapa Fire Department and Takuapa Municipality conducted a fire fighting drill at our school. This activity was supported by our Safe School Program. Our students learned how to act in case of fire. They were provided with knowledge regarding different types of fire extinguishers and the proper ways to use them in an emergency. It was a very exciting exercise and an activity long talked about by our students.

Amazing Volunteers
We were lucky to have some great volunteers the last couple of months. We are always pleased to hear that volunteers are willing to commit their time and effort to support our teachers and office staff with new ideas and a strong helping hand. Especially our students, who love to have volunteers around to teach them English, creative arts, learn new games and hang around with in the library singing English songs and reading English books. In return, our volunteers have a first-hand Burmese experience and learn so much about their culture, being a migrant in Thailand and their challenges in life. When their stay comes to an end, which always comes too early, they become much needed international ambassadors to our organization.

First Young Empowered Professionals class
First Young Empowered Professionals class
Kids reading in the renewed library
Kids reading in the renewed library
Our students participating in Anti-Drug campaign
Our students participating in Anti-Drug campaign
A fire fighting drill conducted at our school
A fire fighting drill conducted at our school
First a fun photo - then ready to go to class!
First a fun photo - then ready to go to class!

Links:

2015 was an exciting year as Burma first democratic elections in decades yielded a landslide victory for Noble Peace Prize winner Aung San Su Kyi’s National League for Democracy party. Hope for the future has never been brighter for the citizens of Burma. Consquently, FED has seized opportunities to serve and defend the rights of Burmese people at home.

In 2015 FED began supporting the education recovery efforts and took a leading role in the peace and reconciliation movements of rural Kayah State - a land in northeast Burma torn by civil war for much of the past 60 years. Even with this progress, the road to recovery for Burma, a nation consumed by conflict, rights violations, and poverty will take time. FED has not lost sight of this and its founding mission to serve the Burmese migrant community of Thailand. Currently Thailand’s economy provides employment opportunities to an estimated 4 million Burmese migrants, roughly 10% of Thailand’s workforce. Migrant labor drives the Thai fishing, construction, and agriculture industries where migrants fill low-level jobs deemed undesirable by Thais.

The Thai Military regime that took power in May 2014 remains entrenched as the governing body of the nation and continues to receive international pressure to return to democracy as well as address the remaining human trafficking and modern day slavery crisis within its borders. In 2015 FED’s Migrant Development program launched a 3-year project specifically targeting the human trafficking and exploitation issues in the Thai seafood and fishing industry. Our team works tirelessly to address this problem, rescuing numerous victims of trafficking and helping them recover and reintegrate into society.

The FED Education program, our cornerstone and passion, continues to impact over 470 migrant children and their families, by providing the opportunity to receive a quality education in a safe environment. Without FED, these children have few educational opportunities and would likely fall victim to child labor exploitation at very young ages. Educating these children will ensure the next generation of Burmese children become the teachers, doctors, businessmen and leaders the country so desperately needs.

In 2016 FED has ambitious goals to develop and promote new opportunities for our children to advance their education beyond 8th grade through vocational training and the Thai non-formal education system.

During this time of change and unpredictability within the region, FED prides itself in remaining a constant and persistent voice for Burmese people, defending their rights both at home and abroad.

Migrant Workers in Mae Sot, Thailand
Migrant Workers in Mae Sot, Thailand
Happy children at FED School!
Happy children at FED School!

Links:

Rohingya mother and child
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!

--Teacher Sophie

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 mark@ghre.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
Migrant Student in the Classroom
A safe school equals happy children
A safe school equals happy children

Links:

 The students at the ULC had a busy month filled with visitors from all over the world. FED welcomed volunteer groups from the States, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. A group from the University of Bangkok also came down for a couple days to teach English.

This was a great opportunity for students to practice their conversational English skills. For each volunteer group, the ULC students wrote out a set of questions to ask the English speakers. They each interviewed several volunteers, asking about their families, backgrounds, hobbies, and interests. The students were challenged by the different accents of the volunteers and had to learn how to adapt to these changes. They also practiced answering questions about themselves to the volunteers. During their free time, the students spent time with the volunteers, finding every opportunity to interact and practice their English.

After each volunteer group left, the students presented the information about their new English-speaking friends in class. Students compared and contrasted the volunteers’ interests with their own. They learned a lot about the different nationalities of the volunteers and realized that even though they live on the other side of the world, they still have a lot in common.

Grade 4 started a new unit about where questions. They received new vocabulary about locations and practiced identifying and spelling them correctly. The students answered the question, “Where is Sophie?” and identified her location according to the pictures.
They also started learning about daily routines. They learned how to identify when they do certain routines. For example, I get dressed in the morning. I come home in the afternoon. I eat dinner in the evening.
The students had fun creating conversations with partners and performing in front of the class. Their favorite part was creating certain actions for each daily routine. Grade 4 has been broken into 3 separate teams. Each team is awarded according to their performance in English class. This has become a great motivation for the students to spend time outside of class studying English.

Grade 5 started a unit on past, present, and future tense verbs. They were given a set of verbs each week, made flashcards, and memorized the past, present, and future tenses. Afterwards, they wrote out sentences with the verbs and performed the sentences in front of the class.
They also had a mini-unit on locations, learning to ask and answer questions, such as, “Where are they? Where is she? Where are you?”
The students will continue to learn more verbs throughout the year and will be asked to memorize the past, present, and futures tenses of each word.

Grade 6 started reading the story of Cinderella. With the help of a narrator and several enthusiastic actors, the students performed the story in class. They practiced their past tense writing by answering questions about what happened in the story. This month, they spent a lot of time with grammar exercises, learning how to ask and answer questions about if and when.
They also continued their unit on The World. They learned to compare and contrast cities, countries, and continents. They identified which cities are in which countries, which countries are in which continents, etc. They also compared the sizes of different countries with each other and identified them on a map.
They started a small unit about global problems, specifically natural disasters. The students were very interested in discussing the current issue of the Myanmar flood. They identified the location of the flood on a map and talked about the issues surrounding the flood. They brainstormed ways they could help the people who were affected by the flood. FED received donations from the students, teachers, staff members, and people of the community for the flood in Myanmar.

The English department received a donation of textbooks from a past English volunteer in Switzerland. The new English textbook, English Vocabulary in Use has been an exceptionally useful teaching tool for the older students in grades 7 to 8. The students enjoy the interactive lessons that come with challenging worksheets and weekly quizzes. The English curriculum will now incorporate more lessons from this new textbook donation.
Grade 7 continued their unit on The World and explored a new chapter about global problems. They compared and contrasted natural disasters vs. man-made problems. They discussed the issues surrounding these problems and how they can reach solutions. With the new vocabulary in the unit, they had enough material to partake in daily classroom discussions.
They discussed the problems that Thailand and Myanmar are currently struggling. During this unit, the students were actually able to spend a lot of time talking about the flood in Myanmar. Students discussed the dangers of flooding and the threats of disease, homelessness, and many other issues. The unit on global problems was primarily discussion-based, which the students enjoyed.

Grade 8 also began using the English Vocabulary in Use as a primary resource for their new unit. Every student has enjoyed learning from this textbook, including those who tend to struggle with focusing in class. It has been an exceptionally useful addition to the class. More copies of this textbook will be requested.
Grade 8 continued the same unit on The World as Grade 7. They also started learning about and discussing current global problems. Similar to grade 7, they were enthusiastic to use this chapter as an opportunity to discuss current problems in the world. They brainstormed solutions to the man-made problems (pollution, homelessness, unemployment, etc). They also spent a lot of time discussing the flood in Myanmar. At the end of the unit, the students were asked to write a list of problems Thailand is facing and how they would find a solution to each one.
The students will write their final unit exam on The World in August, where they will answer questions about global problems and write short answers about solutions.

Rohingya Class
Thanks to the help of two Canadian volunteers, Kieran and Hannah, who arrived in mid-June, Rohingya class has continued to run smoothly. We welcome Rohingya students of all English levels. It is a highly interactive classroom as the levels of English vary tremendously. Kieran and Hannah have helped with lesson planning and carrying out the activities in class.
A highlight of the month was bringing the Rohingya students out on a special excursion to the beach. The students had a great time playing games, singing songs, and swimming together. It was a special time for these students to spend time with their English teachers outside of school.

The Rohingya students have been improving tremendously. Their conversation skills are picking up quickly and they are starting to write on their own. The younger ones have memorized the alphabet and can write their numbers from 1 to 10. Some of the older ones have learned to speak and write out simple sentences. It is encouraging to see this new group of students take on the English language in such an enthusiastic manner. There has been great feedback on this additional English class provided for the Rohingya students. We hope the children will stay in Thailand long enough to equip them with enough basic English training.

Grade 8 student
Grade 8 student
Rohingya Student at ULC
Rohingya Student at ULC
Grade 6 Student
Grade 6 Student
 

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Organization Information

Foundation for Education and Development (GHRE)

Location: Takuapa, Phang Nga - Thailand
Website: http:/​/​www.ghre.org
Project Leader:
Mark Del Greco
Development Director
Phang Nga, Thailand

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