Disclaimer: The children I teach, due to special circumstances, need their identities to remain anonymous. Therefore, I am unable to publish any photographs of them. But trust me, they are ADORABLE!
A couple of weeks ago, I was teaching Conversational English and the topic was "democracy." The students, acting as Congress, were to come up with ways to make their school better.
The students were very realistic about how they were going to improve their school. They understood that improvements meant money and they knew there wasn't any. The changes the students wanted to implement were simple and their suggestions revealed exactly how they felt about their education.
Being children of (mostly illegal) migrant Burmese workers living in Thailand, these children do not have access to education in Thailand. The only way these kids get any form of schooling is through the work of NGO's like GHRE that provide the education pro bono. Many of these students are eventually forced to drop out of school in order to work and help support their families.
The "measure" that the students unanimously passed was LONGER class periods, extending their existing 45 minute lessons to 55 minutes. Because the students all have responsibilities at home, they couldn't stay at school later in the afternoon to make up for the additional time. Every single student was willing to cut their lunch period short in order to have the longer lessons. Why? "Because we want to learn more before we have to stop to work."
It breaks my heart that these kids are such bright and eager learners, but without the necessary opportunities available to them. In a much kinder and fairer world, these children would have the same rights to education as many of the children in other countries, without fear of getting pulled out of school to work in rubber plantations, fisheries or the like.
This lesson was an eye-opener to how lucky we are in the Western world to receive education and never fear having to leave school early to help feed your family. I just hope that soon, everyone in this world will have this same opportunity.
If you would like to help support education for children in lesser circumstances, I highly suggest you make a donation to GHRE, or any other educational NGO for that matter. The work these organizations are doing are phenomenal and they can all use our support! If you cannot provide monetary assistance, consider volunteering abroad the next time you travel. It will give you a travel memory unlike any other and the incredible feeling you get from giving back is reward enough! I recently wrote a guest blog about international volunteering that you should read if you plan to volunteer abroad.
Last but not least, as I have spent three months with these children and have come to care about them very much, if you have any old children's games, toys, clothing, books, etc. that you would like to donate to them (and I know they would be absolutely OVER THE MOON about it), please send them to:
PO. Box (13) Takuapa Post Office
Takuapa, Phang Nga Province 82110
If you want to organization a collection of items for donation, but are worried about the cost of shipping to Thailand, send me an email and we can come up with something!
Let's help make a brighter future and a more just world for these lovely children to grow up in!
© Connie Hum 2010